Save our sofa from our cat
July 26, 2012 8:26 PM   Subscribe

New apartment comes with beautiful, expensive sectional couch. Our cat is a pro furniture shredder. Help.

We've only just moved in, and I'm obsessed with protecting the sofa from our furniture shredding cat. To be clear: our cat loves nothing more than completely demolishing upholstery. I've never known him to use a scratching post. We have a spray bottle at the ready and I'm picking up a can of compressed air tomorrow.

I'm really concerned about what happens when we leave the house. So far we've been shutting our cat in our bedroom with his litter tray and water, but this isn't exactly a sustainable solution.

Soft Paws seem like an ideal solution, but in two attempts he bit them off immediately, with the exception of one.

My question: what can we do to save this sofa? If you've used Soft Paws, how on earth did you get them to stay on? I'm seriously considering putting a cone collar on our cat just to give the Soft Paws a chance to set.

It goes without saying that declawing isn't an option. Our cat is 5 years old, very smart and very active.
posted by nerdfish to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You need scat mats. My sister uses Soft Paws but the cat still was able to shred a sofa. The scat mat gives tiny shock that will keep the cat away from the couch. You can also try a motion-activated air blast thing.

American and Canadian humane societies, the Canadian Council on Animal Welfare, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association have deemed Scat Mats an acceptable product for use in situations where positive reinforcement is not effective. They consider the Scat Mat to be a humane, and potentially life-saving product. The electrical energy emitted by the Scat Mat is extremely small.
posted by fifilaru at 8:33 PM on July 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Have you tried sisal rope scratching posts? Our cat couldn't care less about carpeted scratching posts, and she wrecked a couch and two chairs. Once I got a her a sisal rope post, all of the bad behavior stopped.
posted by cnc at 9:13 PM on July 26, 2012

My strategy was to give my kitties a more attractive alternative so we have several large hessian/sisal rugs throughout the house. 3 years on and the leather couches are untouched.
posted by Jubey at 9:30 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had the same concern when I got my nice Room & Board sofa, so I got my cat this scratching post and it is the only thing he scratches now (aside from my boat shoes, the weirdo).
posted by roomwithaview at 9:43 PM on July 26, 2012

He's going to scratch *something*, so it might as well be something you approve of. My cats have a few (home-made) posts they like, and a cat tree, but they also love these cardboard pad things. Which have the advantages of being cheap, recyclable (though long-lasting), and versatile. Some cats prefer horizontal scratching, some prefer vertical. You might, for instance, try something like this vertical holder thing I built for my SO's parents' foster kittens, which has a base on it that can be shoved under the edge of a sofa, chair, or ottoman, thus providing a scratchable barrier between the claws and the furniture.
posted by aecorwin at 9:57 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try clipping your cat's claws to minimize damage. Consider covering tempting couch corners with sticky tape or furniture guards. Feliway may help. Then get him something he loves to scratch. It may take some experimenting. Catnip might make it more appealing.

When he scratches his approved scratching place, praise him like mad or give him a treat. When you catch him scratching somewhere else, move him to his scratching place and praise him if he scratches there.

We had fantastic results when we clipped our cats' claws and got them a carpet-covered cat tree they loved to scratch.

Another thread that may help.

Success story.
posted by moira at 10:14 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

(Oh, and our cats had zero interest in scratching posts, too. It took something big and solid to tempt the one away, and cardboard with catnip for the other. The cat tree had both.)
posted by moira at 10:19 PM on July 26, 2012

Can you put the sofa in storage?
posted by 6550 at 11:02 PM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

I got my cat to stop scratching my furniture using those cardboard scratchers that lay on the ground. I tried a number of vertical solutions, because, duh, he liked to scratch the back of the couch. On a whim I grabbed the horizontal cardboard scratcher and he loved it. If you try this, get the wide one. The thin ones tend to pop up mid-dig and the cat seems to be annoyed by this. Catnip + treating to attract him to it.

I also helped him during this transition period by covering my couch with blankets. I didn't get a special furniture blanket or anything--just cheap large blankets that I tucked around the couch for the times I wasn't there to supervise.

Cats don't deal well with inconsistent negative reinforcement, so something like the scat mat is good because it's automagical.
posted by xyzzy at 11:18 PM on July 26, 2012

If this couch is so beautiful and expensive, I’m guessing that pretty much any scratching (even one occurrence) is going to pretty much ruin it in the owners eyes.

Unless you want to dedicate your life patrolling that couch 24/7 against a cat that loves "completely demolishing upholstery", I don’t see any viable option other than storing said couch.

Upsides: no worries, the couch owner is happy, you’re happy that you don't have to buy the couch owner an expensive replacement.
posted by blueberry at 12:02 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the responses, I'll try all of these methods.

Believe me, I've definitely thought about storage and I'm looking in to costs. But this couch is *huge* and it looks like the cost to store will be over 100 euros a month, which is very much not in our budget. A destroyed couch is also not in our budget, so we're facing a bit of a dilemma.

So far I've clipped his claws and watched him like a hawk. He's gone to claw the couch twice but I swooped in with water spray. He's actually shown little interest in it so far. I even slept on the damned couch last night to protect it from any nocturnal attacks. I'll buy him another scratching post today, but he's been through many kinds and he takes no interest in them so I'm suspicious.
posted by nerdfish at 1:01 AM on July 27, 2012

Every cat likes to scratch, you just need to find out what they like. I have a cat that likes to scratch wood, so I picked up a couple of deck tiles. They also like sisal posts and scratch pads. Some cats like cardboard others go for carpet. Really, try them all.

If nothing else helps: get something that is upholstered and position it strategically. At worst some piece of furniture that will be used for scratching purposes (I am thinking about an ottoman or an upholstered chair) but maybe some big old sofa cushion or a small upholstered headboard will do. I've even seen upholstered pet beds.

I clip claws regularly, it's not difficult. Just make sure to never ever clip the pink parts (quicks)!
posted by travelwithcats at 1:50 AM on July 27, 2012

I don't know if you can get this where you are, but our cats are obsessed with their Scratch Lounges. Even the one who never cared about any other scratching anything, she is obsessed with it. Good luck.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:36 AM on July 27, 2012

I cannot, cannot recommend Ssscat enough. It has scared the living daylights out of our cats. We have three different canisters aimed at the chairs they are not to scratch; they walk WAY AROUND the chairs in a huge circle. It's pretty wonderful. (I cannot imagine getting Soft Paws on these monsters.) It also helps that they love their scratching posts and they get their nails trimmed regularly. But those Ssscat canisters, man, they are A CAT'S WORST NIGHTMARE. (Thank God.)

It's also great for guests. We forget about them and then people come over and set them off and it's LOLS FOR ALL.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:44 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thick full couch cover - there are many places to buy these.
posted by meepmeow at 7:02 AM on July 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh addition to different scratching options (many cats scratch furniture because it's large and stable and doesn't topple over when they scratch it, and it's possible to find posts and cat trees with these same qualities), you might want to look into a microfiber slipcover for the couch. I've had one (similar to the item in the link) for a few years now and for whatever reason it apparently has zero claw-appeal. Probably because it's such a "tight weave" fabric -- there's nowhere to get a grip, so no temptation to scratch there. Not sure how hard it'd be to find one for such a huge couch but since it's a sectional you might be able to combine 2 or 3 covers in a manner that works. I'd actually recommend slipcovering to ANY renter, pets or no pets, as I'm guessing the owners wouldn't appreciate spilled juice stains any more than they would cat-clawage.
posted by aecorwin at 10:57 AM on July 27, 2012

Oooh, seconding a microfiber cover. When I got a bunch of fabric samples for some furniture we were making, I tested them against our (very, very patient) cat's unclipped claws. I was surprised at how well the microfiber swatch did, and proceeded to poke it hard with various sharp things as a sort of experiment. That stuff is bullet-proof.
posted by moira at 11:46 AM on July 27, 2012

Buy a roll of 3M 1" double-sided tape and lay it everywhere you can on the couch (test in an inconspicuous place first, of course). We do this and our cats won't even sit in the chairs that are treated with it.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:43 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I came in to say "cover the couch with something." Even blankets or bedsheets will do as a temporary measure.

A possible plan: cover couch in thrift-shop bedsheets, attach double-sided tape to bedsheets, done. (Remove bedsheets when you wish to sit on the couch.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:17 PM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

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