How to keep cats from scratching a new chair?
May 28, 2019 2:52 PM   Subscribe

We just bought a new chair, which is a smooth polyester fabric with a print on top, and while I've read some things on the internet, I'm not sure which is the best course of action.

We just got my husband a power lift chair, which is a smooth polyester fabric with a print on top (which looks like leather but is not). I have quilted fabric covers, but they only cover the seat, foot rest, back, and top of the arms.

I am most concerned about the front and back posts. We have one cat who loves to stretch and scratch, and this wasn't too much of a concern with the older duck-cloth cover chair (now destined for the trash) because it was already old.

Should I cover the posts with something? I had a friend who covered his new chair with that rubbery shelf liner material (ugly!), and I have also read about sprays that will deter cats. Do they really work?

This is the chair, and here it is at home.

Just trying to figure out the best course of action: cover, or spray to deter, and if so, why? What has worked best for you? This is a brand new piece of furniture, and I don't want it to get wrecked, as we can't afford to replace it easily. I want to get it right from the start. Thanks for any insights.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I used double stick tape strips for the upright parts of a chair (they make wide ones for this purpose), which worked well enough that I could take them off once the cat was trained that the chair was unpleasant to touch and it didn't bother the chair again.

ETA: if the tape would damage the fabric, single-sided attached underneath and under the arm cushions?

Also, if you don't already have scratching posts in the cat's desired texture and orientation, make/get them. You could even use fabric off the old chair. Catnip helps get a cat interested in scratching the new thing.
posted by momus_window at 2:59 PM on May 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We got a new sectional and my old sofa had basically been shredded by my cat, so I decided to read up like crazy on saving the new furniture. It worked! Here’s what I did:

I got a TON of new cat scratchers, like five plus a scratching post. They’re not too pricey, Target has good prices on the basic corrugated kind and I have found good deals on amazon. I also got one nice tall scratcher (BTW I see amazon makes a knockoff version of this now for cheaper, I’m sure it’s just as good!) so the cat had a place to stretch AND scratch. I put these scratchers around the new furniture and once he had used them a bunch I moved them (see below about putting them in places he would want to use them) and just left one at each end (I think just one is fine in you case as it’s much smaller than my sectional) and the scratching post I put nearby but not quite as out in the middle of the room.

The cat guru Jackson Galaxy helped me understand that cats like to scratch to mark their scent around items that their family’s scent is too. It’s what cats need to do to feel happy! (Along with having a place to scratch AND stretch) so deterrents won’t work if you don’t give the cat a scratcher to soak in their scent near areas they want to do that in, which is around their people. More scratchers in corners in places you never go won’t do the trick. Understanding this was so massively helpful to me!

We didn’t have to do much to encourage him to use his new scratchers but I did put treats down and catnip. If you do want a deterrent, I do think the double sided tape is a good idea. But I am almost positive your cat is going to prefer a good scratcher to the not super satisfying feeling of the chair.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 3:04 PM on May 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Aluminium foil covering the chair for the first week, attached with residue-free double-sided tape (example), and a pet-safe spray like Citrus Magic for the area from now until the heat death of the universe. (That chair looks so cozy, like a nap waiting to happen.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:16 PM on May 28, 2019

Best answer: I put clear packing tape on parts of my sofa to discourage my cat from scratching. You honestly can’t see it from far away at all—and it worked!
posted by bookmammal at 3:42 PM on May 28, 2019

Best answer: YMMV but my cats avoid clawing anything smooth and faux-leather. They claw at our woven-fabric couch and chair but not our recliner. You might get lucky!
posted by impishoptimist at 4:40 PM on May 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Give your cat a better alternative by putting a nice sisal rope scratching post right beside the chair.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:56 PM on May 28, 2019

Best answer: Lots of good suggestions on protecting the chair...we have had good luck with those cardboard cat scratchers that you sprinkle with catnip that you can pick up at Trader Joes. Our cats vastly prefer those scratchers over our furniture as well as the cat furniture they supposedly can scratch on. I think the key is to maneuver the scratchers into spots your cat wants to be in. Ours, for example, like this little nook in the dining room where they can scratch or sit on the scratcher, and also be able to survey their dominion, and be a part of things, without getting underfoot.

Just an aside on the whole cat feng shui thing, I continuously marvel at how particular it all is. Just recently I realized one of my cats had been trekking to their upstairs water bowl because apparently she didn't like where it was placed in the kitchen. On inspiration I moved it, and lo and behold, in minutes she was drinking from it.
posted by nanook at 4:57 PM on May 28, 2019

Response by poster: Marking all as best, thanks so much! While the cats have places to perch and lounge, including a rotating supply of shipping boxes, I have been lax in providing alternatives to furniture for scratching opportunities. Will try the suggestions and get some scratchers for them, as well as protecting the furniture (that non-residue tape looks promising!). Cat tax one, and cat tax two.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:49 AM on May 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have also seen these acrylic scratch guard thingies for furniture. I can't attest to this brand or anything, but I have seen them in homes with lots of cats.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:09 AM on May 29, 2019

Best answer: Such cute kitties!

You've gotten a lot of great advice, but one thing I wanted to mention about scratcher selection in particular:

Some cats have a really strong preference for certain scratcher materials (sisal vs cardboard vs carpet). With my cat, I find he goes through phases. He might only want to scratch cardboard for a couple months, then suddenly he's all about his carpet scratchers (but only the high pile carpet ones). Currently, he's all about the sisal.

It sounds like you may not have many scratcher options for your cats right now, so you might want to consider getting them a couple of scratchers made of different material, at least until you get a sense of what material they prefer.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:08 AM on May 29, 2019

My cat disdains any and all purpose-built scratchers, but delights in scratching furniture. To protect our new couch, we made a peace treaty: The cat gets the rug and the $30 ottoman to herself, to go nuts on. The couch gets left alone. To enforce and maintain the treaty, a spray bottle of plain water stays by the couch at all times (we live in a small apartment, so it's not hard to find if it wanders). Any scratching, hanging, or even deep contemplation of the couch on the part of the kitty invokes a deluge of spraying and 'No!'. It took a day or two to sink in, but she's good about it now.

**My couch has a woven texture, so the errant claw here or there is not noticeable. Your polyester may not fare as well.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 4:55 AM on May 30, 2019

One of our cats really really liked a driftwood scratching post that we had in addition to the tall one linked to by the thorn bushes have roses.
posted by Altomentis at 12:57 PM on May 31, 2019

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