Microfiber + cat: wise or unwise?
July 19, 2006 7:25 PM   Subscribe

Is this sofa compatible with this cat?

I want to buy a sofa. I really like the ones in that soft suede-like microfiber, e.g., this (you can click on the fabric swatch to see the texture up close). However, I'm worried that this fabric may be incompatible with my cat. He does not scratch furniture per se, but he does run, climb, and loll all over it, and I'm sure this involves his claws going into it pretty frequently. Is this fabric going to show puncture wounds in the way that leather would? Will it be a better idea for me to get an upholstery in a woven texture, e.g., this, where the claws can just slide in and out?

Has anyone got this combination of furniture and animal? Please report.
posted by zadermatermorts to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We have that one of these faux-suede couches. Our cats don't scratch, but do sit/run/walk over it. No visible puncture wounds, but the thing is a hair magnet and requires occasional vaccuming.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:50 PM on July 19, 2006

I don't have any info on microsuede, but I don't necessarily think it's better to get woven texture upholstery ... our sofa is sort of a thick chenille and it's the one piece of furniture our cats cannot resist sinking their claws into. Even the really good cat loves to claw it. It's so bad we had to slipcover it.
posted by tastybrains at 7:53 PM on July 19, 2006

We looked at something similar recently and also have two cats. The best thing we found was to go try it out at the store and surreptitiously rub a fingernail over the material (in a non-obvious corner and on the floor model, not wholesale damage of stock). The one suede couch we were looking at left a mark, just from a small fingernail scratch, so there was no way it would withstand a cat. We found it was somewhat random as to which couches we could leave a mark on, some microfibre fabrics like you've linked would probably be OK.

One furniture store we were looking at was also going to let us take a swatch home. The idea was we could see if the colour would work with our decor and lighting, but it would also have given us a chance to test it out on the cat. In the end we declined the offer (didn't really like the colour), but I was surprised by the offer and never would have thought to ask. Maybe the place selling this couch can do something similar for you?

In the end we got softish smooth leather. No fingernail marks and no cat scratches either.
posted by shelleycat at 7:55 PM on July 19, 2006

Friends of mine have a sofa and chair made from that material, as well as two cats, a large dog, and twin toddlers. It has held up just fine.
posted by amro at 8:16 PM on July 19, 2006

made from that material

Er, upholstered with that material, more accurately.
posted by amro at 8:17 PM on July 19, 2006

We once had something similar to the material described. The problem wasn't direct damage but maintenance and maintenance related damage. Frequent vacuuming was required to keep it ok looking ok. I suspect the thing wore out a little early along the piping and edges just from the excess vacuuming.

For minimal cat-related maintenance suggest leather. We now have a softish smooth leather sofa which four different cats have lived with at one time or other. None ever offered to scratch or sink claws. In fact, the two current cats generally don't use the sofa even for lolling around on. There seems to be something non-attractive to them about it, I'm pretty sure it's some deficiency in the comfort level of the leather itself because they'll quite happily jump up for a nap if a cushion or blanket is available to keep them separated from the leather.
posted by scheptech at 8:40 PM on July 19, 2006

put tin foil on your couch when you're not home. i'm not kidding. our couch has lasted two years with only one scratch mark from the time we forgot to do it. it may look ridiculous, but who cares? the cats?
posted by SeƱor Pantalones at 9:11 PM on July 19, 2006

For those of you recommending leather: Are your cats declawed in the front and/or back at all?

My cats are not declawed, and the two leather chairs I have are a total wreck because of them. Punctures all over.
posted by twiggy at 9:29 PM on July 19, 2006

Cats are not declawed. Of course some effort went into redirecting the general clawing tendency from the start. Whenever the 1 year old would start scratching anything except his cat post I'd pick him up, carry him over to the post, and attach him to it high enough that he'd have to really grab on to stop from falling. Between that, doping the post with catnip, and the occassional shot with a plant sprayer, he soon learned to focus his energies on the post. So there's that to for sure, but there must a hundred different ways to prepare leather for upholstery, maybe some are attractive to cats and some aren't? Ours never had a distinctive 'leather' odor.
posted by scheptech at 10:25 PM on July 19, 2006

I have a microsuede blanket that my cats LOVE. They rub, roll and knead it constantly. I've never even had to brush fur off of it. It's quite durable.
posted by zerokey at 10:43 PM on July 19, 2006

For those of you recommending leather: Are your cats declawed in the front and/or back at all?

Hell no. But they have a scratching post they love, don't like to claw at the leather at all (I think the smell/coldness put them off), and it's kind of soft and flexible so when they walk on it their claws don't snag. Oh, and it's not shiney at all and has a slight grain going on, so any small marks there may be don't show. Some of the leathers in the store totally failed the figernail test, so I'm guessing it's a matter of getting the right one.
posted by shelleycat at 12:46 AM on July 20, 2006

I have a leather chair that is lacerated from my cats launching themselves off it. (Declawed in the front, fully armored in the back...)

I once had a leather sofa and loveseat that barely made it in the house before the cat in residence tagged them both badly.

Leather + cat = expensive mistake.
posted by Corky at 4:14 AM on July 20, 2006

We have a microfiber couch (far away picture here) and two cats. They tend to launch themselves across it running between the living room and bedroom, and sleep on it regularly, with no ill effects. We do vacuum it occasionally. One of the reasons that it holds up well might be that it is pretty firm -- there is no real slack between the microfiber covering and the padding inside.
posted by gregchttm at 5:43 AM on July 20, 2006

My cats don't scratch at leather furniture, they leap onto and off of it, puncturing it in the process. By the time I got rid of my last leather chair, it looked like it had been in the middle of a toy soldier firefight.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:45 AM on July 20, 2006

Yes, hair MAGNET. We have a dark brown microfiber couch, 3 shorthair cats who shed a little, and a German Shepherd who sheds A LOT. The cats aren't so much of a problem, but the dog isn't allowed on the couch or we would have to vacuum daily, and vacuuming a couch is a chore.
I wouldn't buy microfiber again for this reason.
posted by bradn at 6:09 AM on July 20, 2006

Our cats are fully armed, and also very selective about what gets scratched. If the furniture is suede or velvet-like, they leave it completely alone. Any texture at all, and we can kiss that chair/loveseat/couch goodbye.

Thinking about what other folks have said re the hair magnet qualities of microfiber - a soft bristle brush (meant for human heads) takes care of that right quick.
posted by dirtmonster at 7:09 AM on July 20, 2006

Microfiber and velvet indeed attract hair, but just aren't all that interesting to scratch--as opposed to any fabric with a looser weave, which will be shredded in no time (she says, thinking of her now dearly-departed couch). My cats have done a little damage to the microfiber chairs downstairs, which are several months old, and none to the velvet chair upstairs, which is eight years old.

As my parents can attest, cats can puncture leather even if they don't want to scratch it; if you go for a leather sofa, buy a lot of throws to "fashionably" drape over the thing.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:42 AM on July 20, 2006

Zader -

I have a Room & Board couch in pretty much exactly that woven upholstery - and I've got a claw-armored cat.

The good news is that I see no clawholes at all after about 10 months with the sofa, and it hides my cats hair beautifully (though in all honesty I picked the color for that purpose !)

The only bad news is that my cat, who does like to scratch a bit, is attracted to the harder horizontal surfaces (not the pillows) and does occasionally manage to bring up a small loop of thread that way.

Overall, I'm very satisifed with the cat/couch combo.
posted by AuntLisa at 9:41 AM on July 20, 2006

Here's our couch, about a year and a half after purchase, with one of the pesky varmints in the foreground. No claw marks, despite intact claws.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:57 AM on July 20, 2006

The corner of our couch is shredded. It's upholstered in a dark moss green chenille fabric. The next couch will be kevlar.
posted by empyrean at 11:16 AM on July 20, 2006

It's sounding more and more like it depends on the cat. I have a microsuede desk chair that my cat sleeps on occasionally but never scratches -- but then, she rarely scratches anything but the scratching post. If your cat is not a big scratcher in general, I don't think you've got anything to worry about. I think microsuede is sturdy enough to hold up to the running and jumping, unless your cat has been leaving holes in your current furniture that way.
posted by Marla Singer at 12:58 PM on July 20, 2006

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