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Gingembre's avatar

What fabrics are best for upholstered furniture in a house full of cats?

Asked by Gingembre (46points) November 28th, 2007

My lovable but mischievous cats persist in clawing the upholstered chair and sofa in my living room, in spite of having several scratching posts and pads available. The chair has a special attraction for them which is apparently irresistible, as the cats will make quick, furtive claws at it right in front of me, look at me and then run off before I can say or do anything to deter them. The chair has great sentimental value for me and is very comfy and attractive (when not shredded). I try to keep it covered, but the little rascals make their way under the cover to scratch the chair’s edges. Anyway, I would like to re-upholster this chair instead of covering it. I am hoping to get suggestions for fabrics that are less irresistible to cats and less subject to ripping from their claws. Please do not suggest declawing the cats or getting rid of the chair. Let’s just talk fabrics or gentle but effective deterrents to scratching, okay?

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16 Answers

hossman's avatar


andrew's avatar

Do you have a scratching post? I doubt any fabric will help you… I feel like most of the time it’s the shape that draws the cats. You just need to patiently retrain before you apholster.

Gingembre's avatar

Thanks, Andrew. I do have a scratching post, and one of the corrugated box scratchers. They ignore the scratching post, but three of the cats do like the corrugated box. It doesn’t deter them from going after the chair as well, though. The chair just seems to be irresistible. I suspect that you are right about the shape drawing the cats, since they can stretch and scratch at the same time. It seems that the material itself gives them some scratching satisfaction, as it gives a bit of resistance yet they can sink their claws in and pull. I am wondering if there is a “slicker” or less pullable fabric that would make scratching the chair less irresistible, or would at least weather the clawing with less damage. Aluminum foil, maybe? hahaha

Is it possible to retrain cats?

Ma-goo's avatar

A few ideas: There is fabric that looks sort of like leather, but it’s vinyl. Or maybe fake fur fabric. Or possibly a canvas. Check out your local Joann or Hobby Lobby. Anything you reupolster with is probably going to get scratched & torn up tho. Can you put the chair in another room with a closed door that is off limits to the kitties? My sister has a Kitty Educational Tool which is fairly effective, if you have the time & patience to follow thru——it’s a spray bottle with a nice strong stream!

breedmitch's avatar

I agonized for months about buying a new couch because I had fear of what my two boys would do to it. When I got it they went right for the corners. Luckilly I had purchased a product that’s like clear contact paper that’s sticky on both sides. You put it on the fabric parts where the cats like to scratch and it deters them. I guess they don’t like the feel of it. At the same time I purchased a new scratching post for the boys which I placed nearby. Well, it worked. They avoided the sticky corners and used the post. After a few weeks I was able to take the sticky film off the fabric (with no damage) and move the scratching post to a less used room. Success. I was able to modify my pet’s behavior without hurting them. Hotsauce indeed!

picklez's avatar

one observation i’d like to add is that cats don’t seem to like to scratch at my couch, which is made of microfiber. microfiber feels and looks a little like suede. it has to do with the thickness of the strands and the tightness of the weave. they can’t get their claws into it with any kind of satisfaction. i imagine it’d be pretty expensive to re-upholster with microfiber, but maybe next time you buy a couch…

syz's avatar

The two sided tape works wonders. You can leave it on long enough to train them to stay away – you may have to occasionally place it back up as a refresher if they start to regress.

There is also a product called “soft-paws”. They are little tips that you glue onto the end of the cats’ nail. They last for a couple of weeks and have to be replaced periodically.

Gingembre's avatar

Thanks for all these ideas. I will start with the two-sided tape to see if it stops the current carnage, and put a new scratching post or box nearby. The microfiber sounds intriguing. I’ll check it out, and will also look into a canvas-type fabric. It just occurred to me that I could get a bit of each fabric to be considered and tack each onto a box to see which one(s) are left alone and which ones are shredded.

andrew's avatar

@gingembre: How did everything work?

Gingembre's avatar

Thanks for asking, Andrew.

The two-sided tape was a big help in stopping the shredding of the chair. I also put out two new scratching boxes—those corrugated cardboard/catnip contraptions—that are well-used. Due to budgetary constraints I have had to settle for fashioning sofa and chair covers out of bed sheet material and as long as they stay put no one is interested in scratching the furniture. One plus to this type of slipcover is that it is easy to take off and wash. Someday I may try my hand at reupholstering the chair.

Sorceren's avatar

Oh, come one — try the squirt bottle! They can’t tell it comes from you at first, but when they figure it out just picking up the spray bottle makes them quit whatever they’re doing.

When your cats understand spray bottle, none of these other measures are necessary!

Gingembre's avatar

I have heard that the squirt bottle works for some people, or some cats, perhaps, but it hasn’t solved my problem. Sure it works at the time you actually catch a cat in the process of scratching in full view, but it doesn’t work when the cat scratches the back of the chair or scratches it when you aren’t there to see or hear. My cats know they aren’t supposed to claw the furniture—they stop and run when I yell “Stop it”—but they do it anyway…and often. I just have to keep the furniture covered to prevent further shredding.

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gottamakeart's avatar

I have a leopard-print chaise that seems to camoflauge shed pet hair rather well…

katiebitch's avatar

aluminum foil

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