Picking Furniture That Cats Are Less Likely to Scratch

I was going to say that cat guardians should buy furniture that cats won’t scratch but I think that that is too definitive. I don’t think it’s possible to guarantee that a cat won’t scratch furniture, even items which are difficult or unpleasant to scratch. However it is possible to pick furniture which may be harder or less attractive to scratch.

Furniture fabrics which are best for cat owners
Furniture fabrics which are best for cat owners
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Leather

The first point that I would like to make is that although leather furniture is, in my opinion, less likely to be scratched than some woven fabrics, it is neither scratch resistant nor totally off-putting to a cat. You can see this in the photograph which is my expensive armchair. However, I have used it for a very long time, perhaps about 20 years, therefore I can say with some confidence that leather is not an attractive fabric for a cat scratch. I’d also say that my current cat, over the past five years, has only scratched it about twice. I think that’s a pretty good test. I deliberately bought leather as a compromise: looks good (looked good!) and somewhat off-putting to scratch.

Faux Suede

The experts seem to agree that faux suede is a microfibre popular for covering sofas and chairs which has a density somewhat resistant to cat scratching and therefore is less appealing to scratch. The trouble, for me, is that it doesn’t look very attractive.

Faux suede is called ‘puncture-resistant upholstery’. It is also called microsuede and ultrasuede. Another unlikely benefit with faux suede is that it’s density prevents allergens from binding with it and therefore they can be vacuumed away. This may help people who are allergic to domestic cats. Is also easier to clean this reason.

Wicker?

Although not referred to by the experts, I think an open-designed wicker sofa or armchair must make it difficult for a cat to scratch. The open texture of this sort of furniture as illustrated in the photograph must be a barrier to being scratched. Obviously the edges (the posts) to which the wicker is attached can be scratched. However it is going to be very hard and therefore I would argue scratch resistant.

Chenille Fabric

Chenille fabric is also said by some to be durable and therefore more likely to withstand cat scratching. It is said to be more durable than cheaper microfibre-type fabrics. I’ve never tried it so cannot vouch for it.

Fully upholstered

Another expert says that fully upholstered furniture is better than having open wooden legs because in the wild cats would scratch on tree trunks and therefore an open wooden leg (i.e. one that is not upholstered) is more likely to be scratched and damaged.

Puma scratching a tree and wearing it down
Puma scratching a tree and wearing it down

This may be true but I don’t think it’s entirely true. This is because exposed wood on furniture is going to be very hard, polished and/or varnished. This is quite different to a branch or tree trunk which can be pierced quite easily by claws. I don’t think an armchair constructed with varnished hardwood is going to be very attractive to scratch for a cat because they will be able to puncture it very easily. The claws have to be able to dig into the fabric or the wood in order to get a grip. If that can’t be done easily then a cat will find it off-putting.

Scratching Boxes

How do I get my cat to use the scratching post?
Gabriel on a scratching board.

It goes without saying that cat owners will find a dramatic drop in furniture being scratched if they place around their home either scratching posts or (my preference currently) cardboard scratching boxes. These act like horizontal scratching posts. They are cheap at about $4 or £4 per unit. If catnip is sprinkled on them your cat will migrate towards them and away from furniture. They can be so effective that they almost eliminate the need to carefully select the kind of fabric for furniture which is scratch resistant.

Specially designed furniture

Years ago I had the idea of manufacturing sofas with arm rests and segments which could be easily replaced. You might like to read about it.

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