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#1
Old 05-05-2013, 01:23 PM
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Best upholstery material to withstand cat claws

I have a couple of really good identical armchairs that I've had recovered twice before, and it's time to do it again, I know nothing (except cast iron and concrete) is impervious to cat claws, but any suggestions on a sturdy upholstery material? I don't mind having to have the chairs recovered every decade or so. Structurally, they are in excellent condition, and I've already owned them over 30 years.

Here's one of the chairs. My dog Buddy is saying, "Those darn cats did it, not me."
#2
Old 05-05-2013, 01:27 PM
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The strategy is to redirect the cats to a different target. Put a more appealing scratching post next to the chairs and praise them when they scratch the right thing.
#3
Old 05-05-2013, 01:32 PM
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I find leather works well - my cats aren't tempted to scratch it although I know people who've had their leather couches damaged by their cats. I also have an oriental rug that the cats scratch but it doesn't damage the rug and seems to satisfy their need to scratch something.
#4
Old 05-05-2013, 01:36 PM
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Well if they are indoor cats, de-claw.
#5
Old 05-05-2013, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerrySTL View Post
Well if they are indoor cats, de-claw.
#6
Old 05-05-2013, 01:43 PM
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Agreed, leather is the only cat-safe material. Make it thick leather if you want it to be dog-claw safe, too. (You just know that Buddy is waiting for his chance to jump up into that chair.)
#7
Old 05-05-2013, 01:44 PM
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Cast iron
Stainless steel
Adamantium
#8
Old 05-05-2013, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogSignal View Post
The strategy is to redirect the cats to a different target. Put a more appealing scratching post next to the chairs and praise them when they scratch the right thing.
This.
I had the same problem with my cats and finally in desperation bought some smaller scratching posts (they already had big climbing trees/scratchers but NooOooo they weren't in the right spots) and put the posts next to the side of each chair that the cats liked scratching. Took about 2 days time with me encouraging them with "smart kitty!" and cooing over them every time they chose a scratcher over a chair. No more problems. So you might want to try something like that - before you reupholster.
#9
Old 05-05-2013, 03:16 PM
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That chair would look nice covered in a nice thick saddle leather, but ooh, wouldn't that be really expensive?

A couple if ideas if you want to try modifying behavior before getting the reupholstery done and have it last longer, if you want to try. Cats will always revert to sturdier furniture items if their scratching posts aren't sturdy enough. If the scratching post feels unstable, like it moves too much or like it might fall over while kitty is scratching, they will move on to something more sturdy.

Fluffy's suggestion is good. My recommendation for scratching post size is that the center post be at least 4x4, with a wide base, and depending on the cats it can be anywhere from 18" to 32" or more. My guys like the taller posts, they grab the top and do chin-ups, and my little female climbs them and sits on top. For furniture diversion, once kitty starts using the post that's near the furniture, you can start moving the post slowly away to a spot you prefer. Double-sided carpet tape applied to the areas of furniture they like to scratch can also be effective in conjunction with giving a scratching alternative nearby. Rub the post with catnip, or use a catnip spray, plus praise and maybe even treats if kitty is food motivated.

Regular claw trimming will also minimize damage. It takes patience and training, and sometimes someone gets wrapped up in a towel like a burrito, but it can be done!
#10
Old 05-05-2013, 03:38 PM
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I'm really looking for answers to my original question. And given that leather may be the best, any suggestions short of leather? It doesn't have to last forever, as I'd probably get these chairs recovered every decade or so just for a change.

Thanks, but not looking for suggestions on cat behavior modification, redirecting their scratching behavior, or declawing.
#11
Old 05-05-2013, 03:45 PM
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What's your objection to leather? and why don't you want to solve the actual problem? Not trying to be snarky, just curious. Because I have solved the cat-scratching-the-furniture problem (and not by cutting off their toes either) and it really can be done.
#12
Old 05-05-2013, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaDragonTattoo View Post
Regular claw trimming will also minimize damage. It takes patience and training, and sometimes someone gets wrapped up in a towel like a burrito, but it can be done!
If you hide the towels where the cats can't find them, you might be able to spare yourself that particular indignity.
#13
Old 05-05-2013, 04:56 PM
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Short of leather, you would probably just need to visit the upholsterer and choose the thickest, stiffest, most tightly woven stuff they have. Take something sharp and pointy with you, like a thumbtack. Choose the fabric that's the most difficult to stick the pointy thing into, or that doesn't let fibers pull out when you pull on it with the sharp thing.

Other than that, the only effective thing I've seen short of behavior modification is a second cover like from SureFit, or a not-too-thin blanket.
#14
Old 05-05-2013, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayT View Post
What's your objection to leather? and why don't you want to solve the actual problem? Not trying to be snarky, just curious. Because I have solved the cat-scratching-the-furniture problem (and not by cutting off their toes either) and it really can be done.
I have no objection to leather. I was just looking for other suggestions, too. In 11 replies, only two people have responded to my question, and leather is the only upholstery fabric that has been suggested so far. I'm thinking it might be very expensive, especially, as you can see from the picture, the legs/feet of the chairs are upholstered, too. I will research the leather option.

I have no doubt that the cat scratching problem can be solved, but NOT the problem I am asking about today. No particular reason. Just not. I want to zero in on upholstery fabrics.

ETA. The generic slipcovers don't work on these chairs because of the low arms and separate cushions. I will definitely talk to the upholstery place about fabric, but wanted to ask here because Dopers know a lot of stuff.

Last edited by ThelmaLou; 05-05-2013 at 05:04 PM.
#15
Old 05-05-2013, 05:33 PM
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I suggested leather because my cats have destroyed every other fabric - tweed, polished cotton, velour. The only fabric they've left alone is a corduroy chair, but I think it's just a fluke because it happens to sit next to a rattan table whose legs they prefer. The stiff leather couch and chair they've never touched, but a friend says her dog's claws damaged her super-soft calfskin couch, so I'd definitely go with a sturdy leather. Also, cat barf wipes right off it!

Last edited by needscoffee; 05-05-2013 at 05:34 PM.
#16
Old 05-05-2013, 05:49 PM
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Okay - how about canvas? I'm not sure if that would come in a variety of patterns & colors, but it is pretty tough stuff and flexible enough to upholster with.

Another thought - when we reupholstered the kitchen chair seats, we used a regular cotton cloth that I liked the pattern of (actually the same stuff the curtains were made from) and then covered that with a clear vinyl. The cats are up on those chairs all the time and haven't got through the vinyl yet with their claws - plus it's super easy to clean off any spills etc.
Not sure you'd really want something like that on livingroom furniture though.

ETA: Canvas link

Last edited by Fluffy PickleSniffer; 05-05-2013 at 05:50 PM. Reason: added link
#17
Old 05-05-2013, 05:50 PM
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They can damage leather when they are in a crazy cat mode running and jumping all over the place. At least mine can and has.
#18
Old 05-05-2013, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diver View Post
They can damage leather when they are in a crazy cat mode running and jumping all over the place. At least mine can and has.
They can damage leather but not in a "this fabric is clearly shredded" way. More in a "this leather is worn and aged-looking" way. I find the latter more acceptable. YMMV.
#19
Old 05-05-2013, 06:43 PM
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So I keep thinking about this and finally went looking.
I found a Guide to upholstery fabrics
and I found this site - supposed to be tough stuff. Not sure if either of those will be useful but figured I'd pass them on just in case.
#20
Old 05-05-2013, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fluffy PickleSniffer View Post
So I keep thinking about this and finally went looking.
I found a Guide to upholstery fabrics
and I found this site - supposed to be tough stuff. Not sure if either of those will be useful but figured I'd pass them on just in case.
Thanks for those links. Crypton, eh? Hmmm. I wonder if Superman can be in the same room with it.

I've been researching, too, and found that leather would be prohibitively expensive. Much cheaper to buy two new leather chairs... and I've been looking online at those, too. However, microfiber faux suede also seems to be a good upholstery alternative.
#21
Old 05-05-2013, 08:05 PM
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My cats claw ONLY the leather furniture. Some of the leather is soft, some of it is thicker and more rigid, the cats don't discriminate. I'll be checking this thread to see if anyone has suggestions.
I've put cat scratching posts and boards, catnip scented, nearby, but they still prefer the leather chars, loveseat, and couch.
#22
Old 05-05-2013, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoodIndigo1 View Post
My cats claw ONLY the leather furniture. Some of the leather is soft, some of it is thicker and more rigid, the cats don't discriminate. I'll be checking this thread to see if anyone has suggestions.
I've put cat scratching posts and boards, catnip scented, nearby, but they still prefer the leather chars, loveseat, and couch.

Yep, I've got a leather chair that my cat loves to scratch. My cat has standards. Anytrhing that cost less than $200 he'll snub his nose at in favor of the more expensive furniture. Scratching posts are a joke to him.
#23
Old 05-05-2013, 10:57 PM
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I have to look at those links, but my Mom has a couch she's had for years that the cats won't touch. It's slick and has almost no texture, so I think they can't get a grip in it. I'm guessing this couch is microfiber something.
#24
Old 05-05-2013, 11:36 PM
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chainmail. it gives cats a grip and won't deteriorate. win, win.
#25
Old 05-06-2013, 12:16 AM
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My parents have had a microfiber couch and armchair for about 4 years now. They have two cats, and it remains unscratched/undamaged. The regular cloth futon, by contrast, is half-destroyed, so it's not like these cats don't try to tear up furniture. But I think the microfiber is too smooth or tight for their tastes or something.

So yeah, there's my suggestion. Microfiber.
#26
Old 05-06-2013, 12:19 AM
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My research supports microfiber.
#27
Old 05-06-2013, 12:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakes View Post
Yep, I've got a leather chair that my cat loves to scratch. My cat has standards. Anytrhing that cost less than $200 he'll snub his nose at in favor of the more expensive furniture. Scratching posts are a joke to him.
Maybe a $300 scratching post? I can sell you one.
#28
Old 05-06-2013, 03:30 PM
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Our couch and loveseat are microfibre. The cats don't scratch them, but they have poked a few little holes in them - mainly I think by jumping up in a panic to get away from the dog. Luckily the holes are pretty much hidden in the "suede".

Because there is no "weave", there is no texture for the cats to get excited by. The one drawback I find is the furniture is very static-y, but it doesn't seem to bug the cats, it mainly bugs me when I pet them when we are cuddling on it.

Buy a good fabric protector made for the microfibre/ultrasuede and stains are easy to clean off. Except for water - which makes spots on it.

DEFINITELY cheaper than leather.
#29
Old 05-11-2013, 07:41 PM
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Kevlar
#30
Old 05-11-2013, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakes View Post
Yep, I've got a leather chair that my cat loves to scratch. My cat has standards. Anytrhing that cost less than $200 he'll snub his nose at in favor of the more expensive furniture. Scratching posts are a joke to him.
Ha ha! So like a cat to defey reason!
#31
Old 05-11-2013, 09:01 PM
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I understand that today's topic is about upholstery, not resolving the clawing issue itself. But, when/if you do decide to attempt to modify the cat's behavior (as if!), check out "Soft Paws".

They are plastic/rubber nail caps that you glue onto each of your cat's claws. And they fall off after about six weeks of nail growth, so it's not a one-time-fix.

I did it with my little girl one time and then said "Fuck it!"....so she destroyed the corners of my couch, chair and all four corners of the ottoman. I was a moron to blow an annual bonus on furniture from Pottery Barn, so she shredded around $2600 worth of furniture.....serves me right!

After that, I went with leather and micro-suede...or the faux versions from IKEA....and they were more comfortable and much sturdier than the crap I paid 3x more for at Pottery Barn! She never put the first nick in it....

I hat to put her to sleep six months ago and now I wish she was here to shred it all to confetti.....
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