March 23, 2011 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Pet owners, what kind of sofa should I buy?

I have two overly-fluffy cats that shed bushels of fine, soft, under-fur that sticks to fabric. There will likely be some scratching, as well.

I would like to buy a smallish sofa. Not too expensive- ideally under $500. What's my best bet?
What materials won't become a felted rug of cat-hair?
What materials are unappealing to scratch?

Aesthetic concerns:
Ideally I'd like the sofa to be gray and comfortable. I prefer straight-ish, modern-ish lines, but still poofy enough to be comfy. I like high arms on a sofa so I can sit sideways. I live in Canada and I have easy access to Ikea, but am open to other ideas, too.

Advice appreciated!
posted by pseudostrabismus to Pets & Animals (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Microsuede is fantastic for pets/high traffic use.
posted by TheBones at 9:47 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Leather. They may scratch it up a bit incidentally, but my cats have always seemed much less interested in using my leather furniture as a scratching post than fabric. It solves the felted hair rug issue, too.
posted by something something at 9:48 AM on March 23, 2011 [7 favorites]

Agreed, leather. It's the most cat-and-dog-proof furniture we own.
posted by tippiedog at 9:51 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have two cats and a dog and lots of fur in my house. I had a microsuede sofa and it collects LOTS of fur, I think because it gets static-y. We bought a leather sofa and it has been the best idea EVER. If the cats scratch it, you can fix it with shoe polish (shoe polish!) and you can run a lint roller over it if there is hair.

I don't know if they have these in Canada, but our Target has a giant lint roller and it's the best for a swipe or two on the sofa.

I do not recommend any fabric couch (including microsuede). They get dirty, they collect hair and they can get scratched up easily.
posted by mrfuga0 at 9:51 AM on March 23, 2011

My cats, unlike something something's, will destroy leather anything. I have a microsuede couch and one that is a basic sort of fabricy material that is slightly fuzzy. They are both lay-z-boy side brands, and both wonderfully comfortable.
posted by strixus at 9:51 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with the leather suggestion. I picked up a really nice used leather couch for well under your budget on craigslist several years ago. It has lasted beautifully and when anything has happened to it I don't mind terribly because it was not a huge investment.

You might consider keeping your cats' nails trimmed when you introduce the couch so that you can train them not to scratch it while they can't do damage.
posted by tinamonster at 9:54 AM on March 23, 2011

On of my cats peed on our faux-leather couch (and various leather jackets, until we learned to never leave them lying down, ever.) I've been reluctant to get another one, and doubly so for an expensive real leather couch.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:56 AM on March 23, 2011

Leather is awesome. Buy used on craigslist, wait for a great deal so you don't feel bad if you eventually have to replace it due to cat pee/scratching/whatever.

After having years of trouble with our cats and fabric couches, we got a leather sofa 1.5 years ago and haven't looked back, now we have no fabric furniture whatsoever.
posted by arnicae at 10:00 AM on March 23, 2011

Our solution to this problem was an Ikea Karlstad sofa. It's inexpensive, because we knew the cats would damage it, and has a removable cover that we can wash and/or swap out as necessary. We started with a Korndal cover, which was fine, but the cats did indeed like to scratch it, more as time went on. We replaced it with a Sivik cover, which they don't scratch at all. It does collect fur, but any that does collect is highly visible. I'd rather know it's there so I can roller it off than have it stick down unnoticed.
posted by The Michael The at 10:01 AM on March 23, 2011

We have two dogs (one long-haired) and bought a microsuede couch from Ethan Allen. Expensive, but it comes with a lifetime warranty against pet damage... not sure if that includes cats, but it certainly includes dog claws and drool. We use a Dyson Mini Turbine pet hair attachment to remove the massive drifts of pet hair that accumulate on the couch as the boys play on and around it.
posted by SpecialK at 10:10 AM on March 23, 2011

Microfiber is awesome with my cats. The pet hair is easily removed, and for whatever reason my crew don't even want to try and scratch it; there are better options in the house (my bed being one of them.. grrrr). It's easy to clean, too.
posted by cgg at 10:12 AM on March 23, 2011

Nthing the removable cover. You could even buy two of them when you get your couch at IKEA -- one for daily use, and one for when you have company.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:15 AM on March 23, 2011

To resist claws, you want something with a really tight microfiber (or velvet). But to resist fur build-up, yeah, you want leather. A bunch of slipcovers might be the best compromise.
posted by thomas j wise at 10:17 AM on March 23, 2011

We have a sturdy $25 thrifted sofa, on which we put a stretch microsuede surefit cover. It's the one that has two pieces, so it doesn't shift around like most slipcovers, and cost around $100 at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. It's machine washable, which beats out most couches as far as pets are concerned. I highly recommend it.
posted by bizzyb at 10:18 AM on March 23, 2011

We always used to put double-sided tape on corners of the couches and chairs the cats wanted to scratch. They don't like the stickiness, and it peels off for company. It also works to put it on the edge of counters, to keep cats off.
posted by annsunny at 10:24 AM on March 23, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers! I'm not really worried about peeing, just shedding and a little bit of scratching.

Is fake leather as good as real? I have been considering an option in "bonded leather" that's very affordable.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:28 AM on March 23, 2011

We have 2 cats and a dog. We actually have a Futon from Ikea. While the cats and the dogs do sometimes scratch at it and leave fur on it, there are 2 major benefits to the futon for the purposes of owning pets. First, you can remove the main covers and wash them. They're easy to wash and easy to put back on the Futon. Second, if the pets do major damage you can replace the cover for anywhere from $80-$150 give or take. Of course you don't wanna have to keep buying a new cover, but it's a good option to have if needed. Ikea offers several covers for their Futons. Hope this helps!
posted by ljs30 at 10:34 AM on March 23, 2011

Nthing leather. Not fake. To hit your budget, you'll need to buy a used one off of CL. You'll find a good leather synopsis here .
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:49 AM on March 23, 2011

Leather will show scratches... just go check one out on the showroom floor and scratch it with your fingernail to see the effect. You should be able to imagine what your cats may or may not do to it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and you can take steps to care for your leather.

I, however, just went for the microfiber suede. It's comfy, doesn't get your butt sweaty during long movies, and pet hair (we have two long-haired dogs) comes off easily with a vacuum or one of those plastic pet hair remover things.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:50 AM on March 23, 2011

I personally am not a fan of most microfiber suede fabrics - I don't like furniture to show detailed imprints of my ass when I stand up. It weirds me out.

Saying that, we put a microfiber suede cover on our old couch (thankfully no ass prints!) and the dog digs and chews on it and it has survived quite well. But it is static-y!

Try the leather and if your cats even think about scratching it, make sure you are consistent with telling them "No!".
posted by jillithd at 10:56 AM on March 23, 2011

while leather might be good for not scratching, it did not dissuade my own cat from peeing on a leather couch :( that was impossible to clean completely. i've started using feliaway from that incident on but i definitely recommend getting a couch w/ a removable cover that you can wash JUST IN CASE. once it gets peed on there is no hope for absolute cleanup! the cover can look tacky, but at least you can deal w/ scratches & pee a lot easier.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 11:06 AM on March 23, 2011

We went with a dark gray velvet sofa (here and close up in the light). The cats avoid scratching it because of the tight weave (similar to microsuede), but we prefer the velvet a million times over the microsuede. We have two cats & a dachshund, and it's stood up very well. I brush the sofa when I vacumn the den to get any pet hair because it's pretty much invisible on the fabric.

We also have several cardboard scratchers around the sofa on the floor; the cats behave very well as long as we've got those.

I also recommend researching sales. Lots of stores have annual events with close-outs on certain fabrics, etc.
posted by Kronur at 12:07 PM on March 23, 2011

Leather couches worked great for me, until I had a kitten who shredded them. The higher quality the leather, the more cat-proof it will be, but nothing will keep a sharp claw from creating a permanent hole. And $500 isn't going to buy high-quality leather.

I'd go with one of 2 options: 1) Something easily re-coverable like a futon; 2) Something very cheap that you don't mind getting destroyed (I'd go with Craigslist).
posted by coolguymichael at 12:08 PM on March 23, 2011

Leather get recommended a lot, but I find that cats fill it with small holes in short order. I've had both a very smooth finish canvas-like material and microfibre suede stand up very well to heavy feline use. The cats don't seem to like clawing either (no easy purchase) and it doesn't show wear the way I've seen leather do.

I'm doing microfibre again, next time we refinish the couches.
posted by bonehead at 1:22 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do NOT go with fake leather -- we got a good deal on a leather couch from Overstock and have since discovered that it is actually thin leather over cloth and does not withstand pets at all.

Despite my having had over a hundred cats through this house, only one ever peed on the couch, and he only did it twice. It was one of the lower level Ikea couches from 1995, covered with denim -- it cleaned up well. I would think that leather would be less likely to soak up the urine and therefore be easier to clean?
posted by MeiraV at 3:46 PM on March 23, 2011

i have not been a fan of microfiber and pet hair. i find it hard to get the hair off, even with our high-powered vacuum. and drool, wet paws, etc shows forever. okay, not forever, but long after it's dry.

we have a beige chenille sofa that seems to camouflage the dog hair, although we usually toss a couple of those cheapo batik cotton tapestries over them as a barrier between dirty dogs and cleanish sofa, which we remove when guests arrive.

we would like leather and are saving up for something that's already distressed (well-designed and artfully distressed leather sofas ain't cheap) so the occasional clawmark won't show.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:56 PM on March 23, 2011

Mod note: Final update from the OP:
Just by chance, a couple years later, a great solution to this problem came along. I ended up finding an Ikea Soderhamn sofa, a total steal for $120 on Craigslist, and it's amazing. It's comfy and looks pretty nice and the covers are washable, and best of all, the fabric (Samsta Dark Grey) is a lovely smooth soft cottony microfibre fabric which really does not catch fine cat hair at all- plus it mildly repels stains and it's washable AND it doesn't get bum-prints when people sit on it like microsuede does. It's a wonder, and I'm so pleased with it that I asked to reopen the thread to post this.
Thanks, all, for the advice!
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:48 PM on February 6, 2015

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