Living in a household with cats isn’t always easy – especially when they are actively (or passively) putting an end to your furniture.
But you already knew that when getting into this relationship. Sometimes, no price is too high to pay if it would mean bringing one of these lovable furballs home.
The good news is that having a cat doesn’t mean giving up all hope on owning nice things. You can always plan accordingly around those coughed up furballs and sharp claws.
And when it comes to the number one piece of furniture everyone wants to protect against cats? You’ve guessed it, it’s the couch.
Something about that big sturdy structure makes it the number one target for most cat claws. That’s not the only way the cat might destroy it either.
If you’ve ever had your lovable furbaby vomit or pee on the couch, you’ll know just how much of a disaster it is to have to clean.
So how can you make sure that your couch will stand up to the unruly feline? It starts with picking the correct couch material.
Before we get into which material is best, take a moment to understand just what it is you’re defending the couch from. Here’s what you’ll need to consider for your specific cat:
Cats scratching at the couch is unsurprisingly one of the things that will guarantee its ruin if left unchecked.
If your cat is scratching the couch, you need to understand that they aren’t doing it just because they are bored. Cats instinctively scratch to help them mark their territory and maintain their claws by removing the frayed outer layers of their nails.
In cases like this, you’ll be looking for a material with the absolute worst feeling texture for the cat’s claws. That means avoiding any surfaces that the cat can sink their claws into easily or any material that has loose and textured weaves that it may pluck at.
- Urine & Vomit
Hopefully your cat hasn’t peed or vomited on your couch, but if you’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing it, you’ll know that emptying bottles of Febreeze on the couch won’t be enough to completely drown out the smell.
Materials that let these nasty liquids seep in will only make it even more of a nightmare to clean. Even after removing the odour, that little accident may still leave your couch permanently stained.
If you know your cat well, and it’s claws don’t have a preference for undesignated scratching posts of the furniture kind, you might decide to go for a material that is less scratch-proof but easy to clean.
Fur isn’t likely to destroy anyone’s couch, but it sure is going to make keeping it presentable a headache… and potentially trigger some nasty allergies. This is something to consider if your cat loves cuddling up on the sofa.
Unfortunately, lots of common couch materials inevitably attract fur so you’ll need to decide how much of a deal breaker this is going to be for you.
Whatever it is, make sure to choose a color for your sofa that matches the coat of your kitty friend if possible. This will greatly help to conceal how fur-ridden your couch actually is.
How do the various couch materials stack up to cats?
Finding a material that can stand up to everything that a cat might throw at it is going to be tough, so be prepared to compromise on how easy to clean or how claw-proof it is.
When it comes to the everyday couch, there’s not too many things that it can be made from. Let’s go over how each one scores in a household with cats:
Leather is touted to be a great material choice for homes with pets. Fur doesn’t stick to it and most “accidents” can simply be wiped off.
Sadly, leather is also a material that many cats enjoy scratching and anyone who says otherwise can consider themselves very lucky. The truth is that cats have preferences, and many of them do enjoy sinking their claws into leather.
Take it from testimonials of the many unfortunate leather sofa owners who discovered this the hard way.
Being so expensive as well, it would be an ultimate shame for a gorgeous leather couch to be torn to shreds so it’s better to stay far away from this material unless you’re sure your cat won’t come after it.
Just like leather, faux leather is equally good at resisting fur, urine, vomit and almost anything the cat can throw at it… except for the claws. It also looks and feels just as classy as the real deal.
Faux leather does have one glaring advantage over real leather when it comes to cats however, and that’s the price.
Getting a faux leather couch is going to be less than a third of the cost compared to a quality leather couch which makes it a far better choice if you’re unsure whether your cat enjoys clawing this kind of material.
It’s difficult to judge how well cotton stands up to cat claws because it depends on the weave of the cotton fabric. Cotton can be softer and more loosely woven, or more durable and canvas-like.
If you are going for a cotton couch, the best option would be to find something thick and tightly-knit like duck cotton.
Regardless of the weave however, cotton is highly absorbent just like most natural fabrics. That’s your cue to keep it away from cats that aren’t potty trained.
Linen couches have been gaining popularity as it blends well with the farmhouse shabby-chic aesthetic. It is also one of the worst fabrics you could pick for a home with cats.
Expensive, absorbent, and highly clawable, it’s probably a good idea to avoid any linen or linen-blend sofas.
Polyester, Olefin, Acrylic
On the more synthetic side of the fabric spectrum are couches with fabric made of polyester, olefin or acrylic. Like cotton, how well these fabrics will survive in a room of cats will be determined by how tight and textured the weave of the fabric is
Unlike cotton however these synthetic fabrics are less absorbent to liquids making them a slightly safer choice.
The jury is still out on how good microfiber is as a cat-resistant material. Fun fact, microfiber refers to the weave of the fabric not the material itself, which is actually made of polyester or nylon most of the time.
It is also unfortunately highly absorbent (for a synthetic material) which makes it great as a cleaning cloth, but dangerous around cats that tend to wet the sofa.
To make things worse, it’s also super clingy to fur… which ironically is another reason why microfiber cloths are great at cleaning.
Overall it’s not easy to recommend microfiber as the most cat-friendly material, even though it is slightly resistant to cat scratching due to its weave.
Velvet is one of the best couch materials to go against the feline threat. Unexpected really, given how it’s the same stuff that clings to fur like bees to honey.
Again, velvet is not an actual material but a type of fabric weave. In reality, velvet is made from a number of fabrics like polyester, rayon, silk, nylon and lots of other materials.
What’s important is that velvet has no loose threads to snag on, and an incredibly tight-knit weave which makes it extremely difficult for cats claws to sink into. Simply put, cats do not enjoy scratching velvet.
Most of the time they just ignore that it exists.
Sure it’s an unusual choice of couch fabric and also attracts fur, but there is simply no better option when it comes to destructive cat scratching.
Some couch materials are far better than others when it comes to dealing with cats, but sadly no one material has got it all. You’ll need to pick the one most suited for your cat’s behavior.
Remember that all cats will feel the natural urge to scratch – there’s no going against their innate nature. You might however be able to convince it to scratch at the “right” things by providing it with a great scratching post and through other behavioural training methods.
But if all of those things fail, you’ll unfortunately need to do something about the couch instead.
When it comes to cats that scratch the sofa, you’ll want to go with a velvet couch. It’s smooth, durable and incredibly hard for a cat to sink their claws into.
It’s so good against cats that there are velvet claw-proof sofa covers designed to protect the sofa from scratching. They’re machine washable to deal with the fact that the material picks up fur as well.
On the other hand, if your cat already has a favourite place to scratch (that isn’t the sofa), you might want to opt for a leather couch instead. Be it faux or real leather, you’ll have stains and fur rolling off the couch with a simple wipe-down.