Best fabrics for living with cats? Decorating with cats in mind.

sloedjinnMarch 9, 2014

I bought the Lubi daybed ( ) so I could have a place in my small living room for guests and for Saturday afternoon naps, etc. but it has a nubby upholstery that is my cat's idea of Heaven. She gets this crazy blissed out look on her face when she's scratching on it. Consequently, it's covered with a quilt all of the time. She doesn't scratch the quilt but the daybed doesn't look clean and modern- it looks kind of sloppy. :(

I was going to sew a slipcover for it (how hard can it be?) but wondered what fabrics work best to be not enticing to cat claws. I read that cats don't like to scratch velvet, but the sofa is a lighter turquoise/aqua velvet and not entirely immune to clawings either. But I can cover the most vulnerable areas with a throw and it looks intentional.

It's not like she doesn't have enough scratch appropriate areas. I've got a ton of those cardboard scratchers and she's encouraged to use the rattan baskets on the Expedit. I just get more from Ikea when they look awful.

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Sophie Wheeler

Abandon hope all ye that enter here.

No such thing as ''cat proof''. Maybe such a thing as ''ignored by your cat but not by someone else's''. Some cats don't like leather. Some love it. Some don't like chennile. Others love it. All hate double sided sticky tape and water squirted at them.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 3:25AM
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Yeah, I just hate using the sprayer. My cat is so scared of it. I feel like such a bad guy spraying her. She's totally traumatized by it. She hides for hours after I use it but it doesn't stop her from forgetting she can't scratch the Lubi later. I think it just feels that good to her claws that she just won't learn.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 4:21AM
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I have two cats and my couches are a microfiber but with a corduroy type wale. Most people who see it don't recognize it as microfiber. The cats are all over it, but the don't chose to scratch it. I don't think their claws really catch the fabric so it doesn't give them that scratching satisfaction. To me it seems to be the perfect fabric. It does catch a lot of hair. If you're able to get a color close to the color of your cat, that would help mask the shedding.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 7:43AM
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I would also concur on microfiber. Our recliner looks good, but I could say not the fabric on our vintage sofa. It lasted 50 years in the previous home--not here! We will also be faced with the same problem when we reupholster it. He scratches inappropriately when he wants attention or food, but we do use a spray bottle. He has scratching posts and cardboard nearby, but he will use the sofa, too.

Some people say their cats don't scratch leather, but MIL's cats do.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 8:44AM
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I once tried those little claw covers on one of my cats. It takes a while getting used to applying them but it definitely works. Vet techs can apply them too. They get used to them. Eventually the nail grows and pops it off and you need more but not frequently.


I don't remember if that was the brand or not. It was a long time ago.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:04AM
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Holly- Kay

The soft claws look awesome. Our sweet Tommy had kidney failure right before Christmas. I miss him terribly and was thinking of getting another cat or kitten from the SPCA but don't want my furniture ruined. I'm just not sure that a cat would willingly let me put them on.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:47AM
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This is only what has worked for me with my cats, might not work with all. I clip their nails every 7-10 days otherwise they begin scratching everything more. They actually like having their nails done as I 'sweet-talk' them and reward with cat treats before and after.

Thru trial and error I've found they totally ignore my good quality microfiber upholstery. When we first got it they tried but seem not to be able to get their claws in it. A previous sofa was a tight weave velvet which they also don't scratch. Another sofa didn't last long as was a textured material and my fav cat thought it was a wonderful scratching post. Not long after paying $500. to have it reupholstered it I sold it for $50. which was a good lesson for me.

I'll never again get anything other than microfiber upholstery as long as I have cats and there are many grades, textures, and designs but only the top grades look good IMO.

My cats have 3 various scratching posts/pads and much prefer the carpet on the stairs or the upholstery on the DR chairs. I don't seriously try to discourage them as most things that discourage them cause them too much emotional trauma. I say "no" and they understand but are only temporarily discouraged since cats are cats and march to their own tune. They don't cause much damage and if I have to have my stairs or chairs redone sooner than later so be it. The carpet is top quality short pile and the chair upholstery is a tight weave nylon/olefin which has outlasted what I initially expected anyhow and I doubt 9 out of 10 people would notice damage.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:48AM
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agree that nail clipping helps. I had one cat that let me and one that vehemently refused. I once had a cat that started in on a chair many years later after not being a scratcher. It was a tight weave nylon probably. Same with the bottom carpeted step. One day I suddently noticed it and it was a mess. I never even saw the deed in action.

I too am missing a cat. I lost my last one in June just before moving here in July to a brand new place with mostly new furniture too. The lack of cat hair and litter box cleanup and smelly cat food and non-decorative scratching posts and condos and toys is much appreciated, but my anti-social aloof dog just does not fill the void like a cuddly cat. I'm sure I'll get one or two cats eventually, but catless seems right in my new space for now.

Also, furniture donation places will not take cat scratched furniture so disposal (eventually) is challenging.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 12:10PM
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I have a Surefit slipcover in stretch velvet on our home office loveseat. If he scratches it, it does not show.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 1:49PM
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I clip kitties nails & brush every week (Sunday grooming). The more you do it, the more they get used to it and not struggle. However, some are easier than others.

For those looking to adopt, if this is imprtant to you, check out how easy a particular kitty is - to clip their nails. I volunteer at a cat shelter and ended up adopting the kitty that I used for months to teach others how to clip nails (he was such a good kitty).

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 2:29PM
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Someone rang? :)

Sticky Paws. It's merely double-sided tape but it's packaged to be easy to use (Petco, PetSmart, etc.). Cats usually go for the corners of furniture for some diabolical reason. Stick the tape vertically on either side of the corner. Cats hate the stickiness and won't scratch. Leave it there from a month or two or longer. Usually they have found another place and don't go back to where you had the tape. I have done this with multiple cats on different pieces of furniture and it generally works really well.

I finally gave up on the spray bottle. The bottle was never handy when I needed it and I felt like an ogre using it. Plus my cats would take a shot of water in the face and come back for more, just to spite me.

I have a velvet chair plus ottoman. It has survived the Sticky Paws training. I still have to place a throw over the top of the back because they play King of the Mountain up there, digging claws in and being very melodramatic.

I don't know that it's possible to have pristine furniture and cats. I have three scratching posts in my living room.

I have two black and white cats. The black shows on light things and the white shows on dark things. Maybe I should upholster everything in houndstooth?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 2:54PM
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My sister has a couch covered in microfiber and her cat (2 of them) have left it alone. Our cats clawed the c*** out of our leather couch. Served us right however - we took a week of holidays and left them at home. I had piled big pillows and blankets on top of it and they shoved everything off and had a hay day with it.

When we recover our kitchen chairs I will try microfiber.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 6:21PM
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It's not just when cats scratch on upright things. Mine simply love to sink their claws into things. I have a denim (twill?) couch and loveseat and it really shows the puncture marks, not rips or shreds, just pinholes. On the other hand, my velvet chair, an inexpensive piece from Cost Plus that is actually a hand-me-down from my daughter (yes, it can flow the other way), shows very little. I just smooth the pile and the paw imprints vanish.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 7:04PM
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buy furniture that is not too dear, and slipcover it.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 8:52PM
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Fori is not pleased

Compressed air (like for cleaning electronics) annoys them even more than water and won't get things wet. It has the bonus of making a noise they hate once they know what it is so you don't have to be close enough to hit them to get a response.

Not to claim I've ever actually trained a cat to do anything...

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 12:24PM
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I had slipcovers made from fabric that I got at JoAnn's. It is a dense flat microfiber, heavy, comes in a lot of colors. More of a brushed denim/suede feel than velvety. Very comfortable. It has been fairly resistant to claw damage (not 100% immune, but not bad after 5 years) and washes beautifully in my machine.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 2:54PM
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I've had cats all my life, right now I have two. None of them scratch the furniture. Because I speak their language.

When we'd get a cat, of course they'd start to claw something, and as soon as they were caught I'd give them a fast "Hissss" with an angry face. If they ignore me, I'd hiss again. I also stand up to make them see I'm dead serious.

It may scare them for just a moment but they get over it pretty darn fast and we're best buds again.

It works!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:33PM
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The hissing helps.

But it's not just the fabric that the cats like--it's also the size and shape of the furniture.

I have one chair that has been covered in three different fabrics in the 27 years that I've had cats. They all claw it to shreds on the front arms. I'm convinced there is just something about the curve on the front legs that is attractive to them.

But they ignore microfiber and leather. Well, microfiber that isn't on the magic chair. (It is also the most comfortable chair I have ever sat in, so it's staying. We all like it too much.)

So I'd go with the sticky tape and a squirt bottle or the compressed air, plus trimming their claws (which I really think helps limit the damage) and covering the parts they like the most with a throw.

And if your cat likes the cardboard scratchers but is still clawing the daybed, she might like a vertical scratcher. Some cats like the horizontal ones, but others like to reach up to scratch.

And if you don't have one, a cat tree might help. Not with scratching per se, but many cats like to be high up. And if they are lounging about up on the cat tree, they are not down on the floor scratching your furniture.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 1:15PM
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Horizontal scratchers! I used to buy them frequently at and toss them when my cats tore the sisal completely off. But I fixed their little wagons (and my budget) by redoing the sisal myself. Cost maybe $6 and is tougher than the posts you buy.

I have never hissed at my cats, but I will try it next time. It's gotta be better than my "Hey, knock it off!!!" We often have this middle-of-the night drama: Female cat is curled up beside me in what's apparently the prime location. Male cat wants that spot and adopts a menacing stance. Female either cries or growls, waking me up, eliciting the requisite "Hey, knock it off!!!"

Otherwise, never any dissention between these two. There is the whole rest of the bed with nice spots, but only this one will do.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 1:30PM
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Fori, we use a little plastic balloon-blower-upper instead of compressed air. The cats hate it, and just the sight of its bright orange glare sends them running. After they've already scratched, of course.

We've tried all the "scare" methods, but it just stops the current scratch, not future ones! The tape works, along with frequent trimming. Hmm, I hear the telltale "clicking" when they walk, time for their mani-pedi. And I'll reupholstered the shredded chairs in microfiber. We got the cats from a home when their owner died, and we should have known by the shredded recliner in the corner that trouble lay ahead.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 8:41AM
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All of the above, and....

Smooth cotton chintz upholstered cushions on rattan furniture (cushions easier to reupholster than an entire sofa if need be).

Unless your cat does not tolerate being handled at all, first get him used to having his paws touched briefly - then for longer periods - then get him enjoying foot massage (who doesn't like a foot massage?), then used to having claws pushed out, then touch the claws with clippers, then clip... be very calm and incorporate these into your cuddle sessions, don't rush things.

Lost cats - even if its been months - check out, a non profit that advises re Its all solid science, based on what's known about lost pet behavior. I got my kitty back after being gone 6 weeks.

Interesting about the microfiber - what about its lint attracting properties, does it get covered in cat hair? Is it easy to vacuum the hair or does it get stuck in the fibers?

Wish someone could advise about CLOTHING FABRICS - seems like some are total lint and hair magnets while others are not - anyone have any clues about that? Yeah slightly OT but Im very desparate having some job interviews coming up and its my worst nightmare - think Im OK but then get out into another setting with different lighting and find myself covered in cat hair.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 10:47AM
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After not having cats since childhood 20 years ago, I now have three sibling troublemaker kitties just under a year old. They are the kittens of a somewhat friendly feral who had them in our garage that we TNR'ed. We fostered her four kittens for awhile and ended up keeping three. I handled them a lot and they are very good about weekly nail clippings, but they still do scratch furniture a lot.

Our couch was old with worn fabric already but now it really looks like hell. Tapestry type fabric with a loose weave is horrible for animals. I don't know that any fabric can hold up very well to scratching.

I am surprised at the number of times I see microfiber recommended for pets and kids. Supposedly the synthetic fiber is easier to wash clean because the stains don't soak into the fibers like natural fabrics.

But this being my first winter with three cats and a dog I am seeing a major problem with synthetic fabrics. The static is horrific! I had a microfiber down comforter on the bed that with the animals on it generated so much static we were all constantly shocking each other with every touch. It was such a hair magnet that I had to vacuum it off several times a week. If I tried to wipe it off or even pet the animals within three feet of the bed, you could see the hair get pulled through the air right onto the comforter. I had to switch it out for one with a cotton cover which has greatly improved the situation.

I have also found that my microfiber recliner has kind of slight nap to it that some pets like to lick which makes it look messy and a little crunchy feeling.

I've read with cats that a scratching post should be wider than their shoulders, tall enough for a full stretch, and not move at all when they use it. I have not seen a commercial post like that, but pretty much all our couches meet those requirements! With my cats, part of it is location and routine. The one cat every night will come into the living room and scratch the end of the couch right before he hops up on my lap to be petted. I really need a good post in that location to stop redirect the behavior I think.

These kitties at least seem totally unaffected by any type of loud noise, yelling, clapping to get their attention. They seriously don't even turn around and look at me. I have to physically go over and shove them off when scratching unless I can aim well enough with a pillow. I tried a spray bottle at first, but they kind of enjoyed that I think and just licked the water off their fur.

The double stick tape suggestion makes me laugh too. I tried that to keep them off the top of the aquarium. Minutes after putting it on I heard the noise of them pacing back and forth over the tape wondering what it was. The noise kept me up at night, but didn't bother them one bit. Then they took to licking the tape obsessively which was really annoying.

These kitties it seems are just a little smarter than me! When we first brought them in the house and they were small, we were trying more diligently to keep them from developing the behavior of scratching the couch. The little stinkers found out that if they went under the couch they could scratch the inside of the fabric on the sides and we couldn't reach them.

Maybe it is harder because we got three all at once which is like a three ring circus. While dealing with one, the other two are behind your back doing the exact same thing!

For me as far as fabric color for both furniture and clothes I think patterns with medium toned colors work best. White and black are bad since my pets have both white and black fur that would show up too much on them. This may be gross too, but I think warm colored fabrics are better. Why?... bodily fluids are all warm colors. Eew. Yes over many years I have found that even though we have no carpeting to stain, pets always like to find a rug, couch, or bed on which to vomit. It often leaves that very faint impossible to remove yellow, orange, or brown stain.

I too have learned to pick out my clothes based on how animal fur sticks to it. Seriously who among us even without pets can pull off polar fleece clothes without looking like you just used it as a cleaning rag.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 12:03PM
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and Poof! the posts are vanishing again. Leather works best for us, but I am really tired of it.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 3:39PM
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I too have learned to pick out my clothes based on how animal fur sticks to it.

I have learned to pick out my cats based on how their fur shows up on stuff! LOL

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 3:46PM
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Mine was one of the posts that vanished. I don't mind as long as the post that triggered my response is also gone.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 5:46PM
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@ linelle - my compliment of your earlier post also vanished. busy editor!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:41PM
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I posted a few weeks ago that a little kitten jumped off the UPS truck when it came on Valentines Day.

This morning I caught her for the first time scratching on a chair in the LR. I immediatly hissed at her. She stopped dead in her tracks, gave me a funny look, then jumped down and went off to play!

Consistency is the key, and a mean look if need be.

I have to confess though. Years ago we had a great cat and he started scratching the furniture. One morning I hissed and hissed at him and he wouldn't stop. I finally stood up, lightly ran to him with the loudest hiss I could do. He never scratched again.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 2:55PM
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I missed the post in question so I checked my email and saw it. I know this will get pulled but I have to say something.

My heart is breaking.

And to the poster, if you're reading this, please try to find the cat a home where he will experience love and be able to give love.

Do you know I've only had one migraine headache in my life, I thought I'd die from the pain. My cat suspected something so she laid down on my pillow above my head, something she never did. I was asleep in minutes and woke up and the migraine was gone. They have powers I tell you! lol

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 3:08PM
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Just finished a frustrating but hilarious time changing my sheets. Zephyr rolls on the clean sheets, burrows underneath, the more I say "no, stop!" the louder he purrs. I looked at him and hissed. I felt like an idiot and his look confirmed it. He had to be carried out of the room. I don't think me laughing was sending the right message.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 5:58PM
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LOL! Do you know how many times I hurriedly shut the bedroom door before the cat came in so I could change the sheets? It's definitely a lose-lose situation. :)

We had a funny moment a few minutes ago. Lizzie likes to lounge on a barstool. My 5 y.o. DGS sat on his stool to eat dinner. Lizzie's version of play is whacking you with her claws if you come near her...when she's in a playful mood.

DGS suddenly started whining and screaming, "Get her down! Get her down! She's going to whack me!!"

Because of the family held hostage by their cat the other day I asked him, "Do you want me to call 911?" :)

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 6:41PM
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LOL oakleyok. I never get any offers of help to make the bed, but changing the sheets seems to be a real crowd pleaser. It must be all that flapping of sheets to get them centered.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 7:09PM
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I've had so many cats over the years I've lost count. All have been indoor/outdoor but live "in" in the winter.
We have found leather furniture to be best for upkeep with animals in general be they cats, dogs, birds or children...
Never really had an issue with furniture clawing. Years ago I found my oldest cat had developed a 'love' for an old wooden box, 24X18X18(antique ammunition box I kept magazines in) This became the scratching post. If this wasn't handy sometimes she would use the decorative logs in the fireplace. So I've kept it handy. If the cats scratch they go there. Original kitties passed away, current two have not developed the scratch thing yet.
Cats scratch to mark their territory. Scent in their paws.
I've hissed at cats all my life, everyone in my family does. Keeps em honest...

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 9:18PM
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I'm not a cat person at all. But I'd rather poke my own eyes out than be cruel to a domestic animal. They just have no recourse. And I saw the post in question, and it about broke my heart.

One of my biggest wishes in life is that people who apparently don't actually like animals would stop getting them. :(

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 9:11AM
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patriceny, amen.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 12:00PM
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