I love my cat dearly, but why does he insist on decimating my furniture?
I’ve spent a small fortune on scratching posts over the years, but my cat finds it so much more satisfying to sink his claws into the corner of my couch or headboard. For several years I had a sleeper sofa from IKEA that he absolutely destroyed with his near-constant clawing—no amount of yelling, pleading, or claw trimming yielded results.
So, when I recently moved into my new apartment and sought to purchase a new couch, I was determined to find a material my cat wouldn’t totally shred up. I dragged my boyfriend around to furniture store after furniture store, quizzing every salesperson on the best pet-friendly upholstery fabrics. Turns out, they were all entirely prepared for the question. Here’s what I learned.
When you think of pet-friendly fabrics, leather often comes to mind. And you’d be right. Hair doesn’t stick, it's easy to wipe odor off, and there’s nothing for cats to sink their claws into. As such, leather is a solid choice if you’re trying to prevent your cat from going in on your furniture, simply because it won't enjoy it as a scratching post.
However, leather is prone to getting scratched, so if your cat likes to run around the house at full speed, launching himself over furniture like a parkour pro, you might end up with big, unsightly scratches across your expensive couch. Keep that in mind.
Hamilton Leather Sofa (West Elm)
This beautiful sofa has a 1950s-inspired frame, and it comes in a variety of leather shades, including black, several browns and tans, and even navy blue.
Carleton Leather Sofa Bed (Wayfair)
This sofa transforms into a queen-size sleeper if you’re ever hosting guests, and it comes in 15 different genuine leather finishes.
Chamberlin Recycled Leather Sofa (Urban Outfitters)
If you like a retro-inspired vibe, this sofa is the perfect option with its clean silhouette and metal legs. It’s even made from recycled leather that’s super soft and subtle.
Another good fabric option for those with cats is microfiber or microsuede. These fabrics are more budget-friendly than leather, and they use very fine, tightly woven threads that are hard for cats to dig into. However, it does tend to be a hair magnet, so it’s best to pick an upholstery color that’s closest to your cat’s fluff.
Lewis Sofa (Joybird)
Joybird offers a number of “pet-friendly” fabrics, including this Bentley Pewter option. The fabric is tightly woven for durability, but it’s plush, with a chenille-like finish.
Ibiza Sofa (Wayfair)
This sofa has flared arms and button-tufted cushions for an elevated appearance (for less), and you can choose from black or brown to match your pet’s fur.
Giovanny Reversible Sectional (Wayfair)
If you have a big family, you might need a larger seating area, such as this microsuede sectional that can seat five or more people—plus a few animals (because they’re now invited on there).
I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t Sunbrella an outdoor fabric?” The brand does offer awnings, boat coverings, and other outdoor materials, but it’s become so popular that many furniture companies have started offering indoor Sunbrella upholstery. The indoor versions typically have a softer feel than canvas-type fabrics, but still retain the durability and convenience.
Sunbrella is widely regarded as one of the most pet-friendly fabrics you can buy today, and if that doesn’t stop your cats from clawing, we’re not sure what will.
Carlisle Upholstered Sofa (Pottery Barn)
Pottery Barn is one of the best places to shop for Sunbrella furniture, as you can get almost all of their sofas in a variety of Sunbrella colors. This particular couch, with its English roll arms and deep seat, will cradle you in comfort and style.
William Hybrid Recliner Sectional (Wayfair)
This large three-piece sectional is available in not one, but five Sunbrella finishes, and it even includes a power reclining seat and USB charging ports.
Bryant U-Sofa Bumper Sectional (Joybird)
This cushy sectional is available in a number of Sunbrella finishes, and you can arrange its five pieces in a variety of ways for all the flexibility and function you need.
If you’re trying to protect your existing couch from further destruction, there are a number of products designed to deter clawing. The bad news is that they don’t always work—it really depends on how determined your cat is—but they’re worth a try. Here are two popular options.
This is essentially a large swatch of double-sided tape that you can place over the corners that your kitty likes to scratch. The idea is that your cat won’t enjoy the stickiness of the surface and will stop clawing at that area. However, the tape itself isn’t the most attractive, so you’ll have to be okay with the unsightly appearance of your furniture for a while.
You can also try this anti-clawing spray, which is basically just a blend of smelly herbs that your cat won’t like. You’re supposed to apply it several times a day to your furniture to deter your furry friend, but reviewers report varying degrees of success—some say their cats actually grow to like the smell! Good luck.
Have other ideas for how to have a cat and own nice furniture? Tell us in the comments below!