A gray kitten on a couch, licking with his tongue out.
A gray kitten on a couch, licking with his tongue out. Photography by 5second/Thinkstock.

How to Pick Furniture That Cats Won’t Scratch

We ask furniture professionals to pick fabrics and furniture that cats won't scratch. Here's what they said!


Savvy cat guardians know that to stop cats from scratching furniture, one must provide correct stimulation and alternatives for scratching. Cats love well designed scratching posts, and the placement of such alternatives to furniture can make all the difference. I’ve done this, and my cats don’t bother my new furniture at all.

Cats are also clever about finding alternatives to scratching posts. My female Jamie loves to sharpen her claws on this plastic non-skid base for the cat water bowls. Its little stubs are just stiff enough to provide the texture that she likes.

What if we took that concept in the opposite direction? Can you pick furniture that cats won’t scratch? Specifically, I wondered whether furniture containing more hard surfaces would do this, or furniture whose fabric has no “nap” (or obvious texture). There’s also microfiber. My husband and I bought a microfiber couch, and the cats show no interest in it.

I asked several furniture experts and got lots of ideas. Responses varied, and some contradicted each other. Regardless, you will probably get some ideas for what to try.

A tired or grumpy cat sleeping on the arm of a couch.
What fabrics will keep cats from scratching? Photography © liveostockimages | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Cats won’t want to scratch furniture with full upholstery and recessed legs

Sean Juneja, co-founder and CEO of Decor Aid, offers this tip: Look for fully upholstered pieces with wood or metal recessed legs.

“The best fabrics are ultrasuede and leather, because a cat cannot claw into these,” Juneja said.

Avoid fabrics that snag easily, such as tweeds. It’s also difficult to remove pet hair from these types of textured fabrics.

Asked why full upholstery is important, Juneja said it keeps cats from clawing from any wood on the furniture.

“While most prefer something they can shred, there are cats that prefer wood,” Juneja said, and recessed legs are not accessible because they are hidden and smaller.

These chairs are covered with ultrasuede.

furniture cats won't scratch
Photo via Decor Aid

And here is a leather couch and metal tables.

furniture cats won't scratch
Photo via Decor Aid

Cat owners should choose furniture that holds its wear well

Chandler Elmore of Kuni Furniture had similar advice on choosing furniture that “holds its wear well,” although he was less positive about leather.

“The more a piece has of glass, metalwork and wood, it will wear better than leathers and suedes, which are typically decent materials,” Elmore said.

He pointed out that the “absolute worst materials for furniture” include chenille, velvet, wool, linen, silk and tweed.

Another expert advocates for leather, thin rugs and cat furniture

Donna Arbietman of Magnolia Brook said she gets many questions about cats and furniture, and that while each cat is different, she offers these guidelines:

  1. Cats in general don’t seem to like leather as much as other materials. “Leather is easy to clean and maintain, so it is always a safe bet.” Arbietman suggested applying scratch guard to the leather.
  2. Shaggy and jute rugs are the “perfect playground for cats to trim their nails on and have fun, so stick with thinner rugs with less hair.”
  3. Provide your cats with cat posts and a cat bed nearby. “When cats have their own furniture, they will be less inclined to ruin yours.”

Cat parents should pick chenille versus microfiber

Mike McCann of Wholesale Bar Stool Club says thin microfibers, which are often the least expensive items, are easily torn up by cats with claws.

Microfibers are meant to be easily cleaned of stains and spills, not endure punctures or last for extended periods of time,” McCann said.

He said he believes that with cats, a chenille fabric is best: “It is more durable and will withstand more abuse from animals. It may be a little harder to clean, but it will outlast its cheaper microfiber counterpart.”

This contradicts the advice of Kuni Furniture’s Elmore above.

When it comes to furniture, cat owners should keep it simple

Finally, Tamalpais NatureWorks recommends modular furniture made of wood and steel joinery. William Callahan calls it the world’s healthiest and easiest to maintain furniture for people and pets.

“If a kitty (or a dog) destroys a table leg, just put a new one in its place,” Callahan said.

None of this furniture is upholstered, making it easy to clean and repair.

The bottom line on furniture that cats won’t scratch

Not every piece of advice will work in every situation. These furniture professionals had many ideas, including two that contradicted one another. We know that cats vary too — some cats might claw leather, some might not.

Tell us: Do you have any creative ideas or advice for choosing furniture that cats won’t scratch? What furniture have your cats scratched and what furniture have they left alone?

Thumbnail: Photography by 5second/Thinkstock.

This piece was originally published in 2016. 

Read more about cats and your home on Catster.com:

76 thoughts on “How to Pick Furniture That Cats Won’t Scratch”

  1. Kilim. They scratch, but it's indestructible. They totally destroyed my expensive leather chair, but the kilim is the greatest.

  2. We have two cat towers with scratching post legs plus two cardboard scratchers and my cats have destroyed two leather office chairs (their favorite target) and a microfiber couch. Sticky paws on areas of the couch extended its life before We finally bought a new couch and chairs. Bought covers for the new couch and chairs from Amazon that tightly fit them. It has protected the couch and the cats surprisingly don’t seem to like scratching on the covers which are a faux velvet.

  3. I have a microfiber fabric chair, the cats scratch at it. I have an tweed fabric chair, cats claw at it. Cats have a small square sleep cave where they can sleep inside or on top of and I also a short cat tree right in the living along with my chairs… they still will scratch my chairs as well as the cat tree. Yes, every time they attempt to scratch my chairs I intervene, but I don't always catch them. I also tried that sticky clear furniture anti scratch tape, doesn't work well at stopping them. Not to mention the tape is hard to remove off the furniture. I also tried covering the furniture, the cats claws still make it into the fabric of the chairs. I tried citrus sprays and anti-scratching sprays and none of it works. END RESULT, there is no true fabric choice nor adding stuff for kitties will get them to stop paying attention to furniture. Best you can do is deter it as much as possible and do not buy any new stuff until you are no longer a cat owner OR if are lucky enough to have a cat who has no interest in scratching your furniture.

  4. My chenille chair is trashed by my cat. She loves her scratch pads made of cardboard but much prefers my chair over her scratch posts. My other chair which is newer has a linen like fabric which I put double stick stuff on the arm and corners and layers of plastic wrap around the footstool. The wrap was for a dog that liked to lift his leg on the furniture but it also stopped the cat. I put a cover my catted out chair if I company, where long dresses and pretend I’m an old hippy. People aren’t visiting your furniture. If you want perfection don’t have pets, unconditional love is worth much more than a piece of furniture. and a little fur.

  5. I’ve heard that velvet is good. I do have an antique velvet chair that the cats scratch, but no real damage ensues. Velvet has no weave for cats to hook into.

  6. LOL these advice givers in the article…..Leather…LOL. As I sit here looking online for a new office chair, trying to find one that will be comfy and hold up, sitting on my almost completely shredded leather chair. Granted, it has held up for several years, but it’s very sad looking. I bought some cheap vinyl on amazon to glue on the top hoping to deter the scratching up there. Holes starting to show in that too-that’s lasted about 3 years now, not too bad. My cats also like the wood trim around the doors, as well as their scratching posts.
    It’s all really simple. Every cat(or dog for that matter) is different. Some are great, some destructive(in our terms). It’s their nature, and you won’t change it. My dogs like to den. And they den by digging to China in my couches. If you want pets, and furniture, stick with cheap, disposable furniture or get into the indoor patio furniture look. I’ve been looking around for one of those fake wicker, think it’s called resin, couches and chairs. Or wrought iron. Kinda pricey for both though. But I think those two materials are the only things that will hold up well to my dogs and cats. Throw some cheap pillows/pads on them for comfort. Also too, for a throw blanket that is a bit tough, thick, and sturdy, look at paint drop cloths. They come in different sizes, about 10.-20., generally a neutral light tan/off white color. Can make ok curtains too.

    1. Our cat has destroyed two leather sofas and three leather office chairs. He hasn’t torn up the two leather foot stools…yet. SMH


    2. You can’t buy a good office chair from staples or Costco. Check out Steelcase for the leap or Herman Miller for the aeron chair. I currently use a keilhauer Danforth chair like they use in the Whitehouse war room. Picked it up used for $300. Someone originally paid 5k. Best chair I have ever owned.

  7. A cat is going to scratch no matter what, and it does not matter what kind of furniture it is, or if it is expensive or not, or if they have scratching posts or stations in every room in the house, squirt bottles in every room in the house, etc. Scratching is a natural trait for cats and part of their DNA. You either do not have cats or you pick inexpensive and easy to replace furniture. If one of these suggestions above works for you wonderful! If not, do not blame the kitty for they are simply doing what is in their nature. Love it or do not have a cat, try a dog instead.

  8. I bought microfiber couch and loveseat, and my cat has ruined both. DO NOT BUY microfiber. Does anyone know if a cat will scratch resin wicker? I am thinking about putting that in my living room.

    1. sorry to hear that but kind of relieved because I just bought a polyester sofa and it arrives this week but a relative told me I have made a big mistake – I should have ordered microfiber! So have not been able to sleep and felt I had made a huge mistake. I hope using the double sided tape and placing a tall solid scratch post next to it might help my cats not scratch it to pieces?? I am not a fussy person and I love my pets, its just that I recently moved to a retirement community and wanted to enjoy new furniture.

  9. If you start with a kitten it is very easy to train it not to scratch anything but the scratching posts. In my house I have a scratching post right in front of the cat litter box. She does her business and immediately scratches to clean her claws. I have a triangular scratching box placed right nest to the couch. She can scratch on the slanted sides or go inside and scratch on the flat base. She uses this when I come home and she is happy to see me. I have 2 climbers and both have scratching posts. She uses these when we are playing. Most importantly I keep her nails trimmed. I think this helps too. As a kitten whenever she scratched on a post she was rewarded. If she scratched somewhere else I just picked her up and placed her by a post and said scratch here and rewarded her. Easy!

    1. Leather is better environmentally because pleather deteriorates after only a few years. Peeling and flaking so that people have to toss them and buy another piece to replace. Wasteful. Leather endures

      1. Peeling and flaking is the telltale signs of Chinese polyurethane delamination. It is all garbage. I have been called in to reupholster entire restaurants in under 3 months of opening because of this crop. Truth is, few consumers know the difference between genuine leather, polyurethane aka p.u. leather aka faux leather and vinyl.

  10. I adopted my precious black baby girl (“Josie”). Her foster mother did not correctly raise her in that she WILL NOT use a scratching post or box. She has literally ruined my microfiber couch and loveseat. She doesn’t, however, scratch wood. I am thinking about buying some resin furniture because I’m not certain she will scratch that. Any ideas anyone?

      1. My cat loved climbing to the top of my leather sofa to play with the curtains until she slid down the back with claws out to slow her decent. Cats would be hard pressed to scratch all the way through real leather but the scratches are just as ugly

  11. Denise Morrison

    This article is completely misleading. My cat has destroyed a leather chair, a chenille covered loveseat and a pleather ottoman. The only material he has never clawed was canvas. I have some cheap IKEA furniture with canvas slip covers that he never touches and we have had them for 16 years. I am in the market for a sectional and I am going to go with a sunbrella canvas slip cover. Fingers crossed!

    1. Totally agree. My experiences are just as you describe. I wonder if the denim that Levis and other jeans are made from would be durable with a cat?

  12. Timothy Stewart

    Hey Catherine, either doesn’t have cats or they are declawed or works for a leather upholstery company. Bottom line he’s full of crap

  13. Are you serious? Cats don’t scratch leather??????
    I agree this article is misleading. You should see my shredded leather sofa, loveseat, and chair! I’m considering putting luxury outdoor furniture in my family room. Can a cat scratch up synthetic weatherproof wicker?

    1. Annette. Oh I read your comment and just had to say you are on point. I have leather chairs that my cats destroyed! They were so comfortable. I have to replace them and they are less than 6 months old.

      1. I have 100% leather couch, meaning everywhere and it does have some scratches, but since its “leather” the color is thru and not that noticeable. You have to be careful when buying “leather” because most sofas are leather where it touches the body and PU or other kind of artificial leather on the sides and back and it does not hold well at all. By the way I have seven cats.

      2. Unlikely that they were genuine leather. Genuine leather is suede on the underside, polyurethane will have a Grey tan or black polyester backing. Vinyl will have a white or black backing

    2. My cat scratched my leather couch too they love leather. But we did just buy a new couch and loveseat with a suede type fabric and he has not attempted to scratch it he won’t even go near it.

  14. Wendy MacIntyre

    We’ve had a good quality leather couch in our living room for 15 years and our cats have never used it for scratching. We have a fake leather couch in our basement and one of our cats scratched some on it. (And cat vomit wipes up easily from it, although you need to catch it since it can discolour the leather if you miss it for a day.)
    So, I agree with those that say leather is great.

    1. I do as well, I guess its just luck, but I have 4 cats, and never had an issue.
      I have leather couches and a microfiber recliner.
      I also have cat furniture in EVERY room, and they all use it. the favorite on is a 6 foot tower in the foyer. its a combo of sisle and carpet.
      I do however, occasionally hav ean issue with them digging the carpet, and I also keep a squirt bottle in every room!!!

  15. I have high end leather furniture. I made sure to have three different types of scratching materials (vertical sisal, vertical sisal rope, horizontal cardboard) covered with catnip, as well as a great cat tower, and my cats still scratch the leather, and then the twill slipcover I put on it. They also scratch and chew wood and other upholstery fabric. I tried training with a spray bottle and loud rattle sound when I caught them scratching, but I don’t think I caught them enough to deter them. I wish I kept the furniture covered with sheets or foil, like I had for awhile, but my husband didn’t like it, so I gave in, and removed the covers. The furniture came before the cats, so I didn’t choose based on having pets. The cats were for my daughter, and while I love them, they are more destructive than I expected. I’d recommend keeping furniture you love covered as the kittens/cats grow to love the scratching posts that you’ve provided. Our cats are better now that they are older, but we should have kept things covered for about 2 years.

  16. I bought a high leg recliner a year ago that was upholstered in a fairly open weave. My cat completely shredded the front and arms within six months. I bought a 3′ sisal scratching post, placed it next to the chair, and encouraged her to use it. Once I was comfortable with her preference for the new post I had the chair re-upholstered in a much tighter weave fabric. The cat almost never touches the new fabric, instead continuing to prefer the scratching post next to the chair.

  17. I knew this would be a waste of time…

    Cat people are crazy. I knew the answers would be all over the place and be conflicting.

    1. Timothy Stewart

      Your absolutely correct. One website says avoid leather because cats claw into it and it shows punctures that turn into holes that becomes tears and
      Another recommends leather stating, “cats can’t claw through it” Baloney I know from experience this is false. They maybe work in the leather upholstery field or really don’t have a clue. Same conflicting reviews from “experts”.

  18. We had a chenille couch and our cats shredded the ends down to the wooden frame underneath the upholstery and batting. I have had microfiber couches for 12 years now, and although there are pock marks you can see when you get close, from where our cats have scratched, the fabric doesn’t shred or tear and the batting doesn’t pull through either. I told a furniture salesman that they need to market microfiber as cat-scratch resistant upholstery.

    1. Marguerite Lucero

      I’m trying to replace a sofa set, you say microfiber is better than chanelle? It’s been a horrible fight keeping my cats from destroying my sofas.

  19. I left a comment about the leather furniture it has not posted why?
    There is a big misconception about leather furniture
    Just because a sales person tells you it’s leather it may not be ,it could be pleather or vinyl sometimes it’s only leather where you sit if you don’t ask the salesman the right questions they will dance around the answer and not tell you. Smells attract animals my leather sofa is all leather I asked and made sure it was not only leather where you sit. But all around wrap around. I was trying to inform people of that fact so it may not be kitties fault.

  20. This article should just be removed, it is completely inaccurate.
    Cats love leather. Unlike fabric, they only need to scratch once to cause irreparable damage. One scratch and they will leave your leather with tiny little holes which you cant get rid off. Don’t get leather.

    1. Totally agree, I have vinyl and adopted a large senior cat and he had destroyed it just walking on it as his claws put holes in it….but I love him! Leather & vinyl is very unforgiving

    2. You’re absolutely right! I had a beautiful leather sectional and my cats annihilated it! Cats like to scratch leather..

  21. My adopted declawed cat destroyed my (VERY expensive) leather chesterfield… with his BACK claws.

    Lost a leather office chair to a kittly who loved to work the cushion. All of the cat claw protectors aim for the arms or the back corners of furniture. Nothing for the cushion.

    Cats and leather do NOT go together.

    1. Timothy Stewart

      Shay, Mary and Joan, you nailed it. After almost getting a leather sofa because “spruce” said cats can’t claw into, HONEST people with real experiences and not tapping characters on a keyboard say “DON’T BUY LEATHER OR VINYL”

  22. Once, when I had my own apartment, my family gave me two recliner chairs. One had a nubby fabric covering, the other had chenille. My cat Tripod clawed the nubby fabric, but not the chenille. Since I didn’t need two chairs for myself, I let Tripod have the one with the nubby fabric, and I took the other. Worked for us! Of course, since she was born with only one front leg, she couldn’t do as much damage….

  23. Elizabeth Edens

    “The best fabrics are ultrasuede and leather, because a cat cannot claw into these,” Ha! Maybe if they are declawed! My cats have destroyed my leather furniture. And the legs of wood kitchen and dining room chairs.

    1. Randal Carpenter

      I had a friend who was going crazy with her cat destroying her LEATHER furniture…….because his nails were putting pinprick HOLES EVERYWHERE in the LEATHER…..so maybe it ISN’t the BEST choice……I TOLD HER I would STOP being her friend if she mutilated her cat’s paws because of HER LEATHER couch!!!
      ANIMALS FIRST !!!!

      1. Rebecca Kennedy Wilsbach

        We reupholstered our couch and chair many times and at some expense. Finally went to leather, Foster’s claw marks still there. I have never valued furniture or any other objects more than our cats. Offer to amputate your friends’ fingers at the first joint, see how she would like that. Declawing makes me angry. Very angry.

      2. Harmony Lei Cooper

        Yes, animals first….I’m currently looking for furniture after my cat destroyed “leather” in a week just by walking on it and jumping on it!!!

        After starting a claim to get my furniture replaced, I’ve learned that there are a TON of different grades of leather, a consumer really needs to be “knowledgeable” on leather …..I’ve just learned the hard way since calling the company. Good luck to ur friend

      3. Your friend needs to put one or two scratching posts around they don’t cost much $20 each put one in each room kitty loves to play and sleep a lot of cats like th stretch out with their claws upon waking up I have 4 cats I have a large cat tree and a post in my sons room where they also like to go he has a small cat tree and a post they have never ever used our furniture so where ever they like to hang out put a post or tree with the posts built into them. Also just an FYI when they were kittens they like electric cords we took a small amount of Vick’s vapo rub on our fingers and slid our fingers down the cord they did not like the smell and never again played or chewed on the cords good thing to do so they don’t get an electrical shock. ????

      4. Your friend needs to put one or two scratching posts around they don’t cost much $20 each put one in each room kitty loves to play and sleep a lot of cats like to stretch out with their claws upon waking up I have 4 cats I have a large cat tree and a post , in my sons room where they also like to go he has a small cat tree and a post. They have never ever used our furniture so where ever they like to hang out put a post or tree with the posts built into them. Also just an FYI when they were kittens they like electric cords we took a small amount of Vick’s vapo rub on our fingers and slid our fingers down the cord they did not like the smell and never again played or chewed on the cords good thing to do so they don’t get an electrical shock. ????

    2. Harmony Lei cooper

      Do you know what kind of leather your cats tore up, as there are so many types and grades of leather out there?

      1. My leather is Italian leather I’ve had mine for 20 years they don’t touch mine they don’t even sleep on it. I bought a large fluffy blanket at Sam’s club kinda looks matted looks like sheep wool but they love it to sleep on beside the carpet and mostly their cat tree. I even added a large hammock. I bought on amazon $12 onto the tree I just added cup hook eyelets to hook the hammock onto it Added their favorite small blanket for comfort. when they were babies they all slept together now only one can fit at a time it’s a large cat tree $69 Bought at Amazon it’s 7’ tall they all have their favorite perch they like to nap on also it has 9 scratching posts on it. My one boy is 14 pounds so he broke a hook went an ordered heavier hooks to add to the hammock. Make them comfortable add favorite small blankets also looks like sheep fur got them at petco and the posts you should have no more issues if they have several post to scratch they won’t need your sofa good luck.

    3. My leather furniture is no longer “smooth” either : ) It has many pock-marked areas the cats have lavished their attention on; and don’t get me started on pleather. All I will say on that is thank goodness for matching duct tape. Most of my wood door facings in the house have felt the attentions of the cats’ claws, as well ; )

      1. My leather sofa has never been touched
        If your sofa has leather only where you touch ei: where you sit, then the back and sides could be vinyl Or pleather not real leather and that could attract them Different smells you may want to check that out, if when you bought your furniture if you didn’t ask if it was all around leather , they won’t tell you.
        Mine is all around fully leather my cats have never even tried and I’ve had them sense babies and has claws it may not be kitties fault.

    4. Amen!!! I wanted leather furniture because my akita sheds a lot and I thought it would be easy to keep clean. I HAD a large leather storage ottoman when I got my cat Taz. She destroyed my ottoman with pin pricks all over the thing! I have spent good money on scratching posts,toys, and scratching boards. My cats are crazy destructive. Ready to rehome both.!

  24. One of our cats, Veronica, begs to differ regarding leather sofas as she looooovves to scratch the sides of them constantly. We have 2 7-foot cat scratching towers, 3 smiler vertical scratchers, and 4-5 cheap cardboard scratchers in our house, so that’s definitely not the issue. I think she just loves scratching the leather! Lucky Us! haha

  25. Thanks for pointing out that a piece of furniture with a chenille fabric will be durable since it will be able to withstand animals such as cats. I will keep that in mind now that I will buy my best friend a sofa as a gift for their wedding day this coming May. This will be perfect since they have one cat and a dog as well.

  26. My cats destroyed my expensive new leather chair. They never bothered the velour furniture. My new microfibre chair is getting scratched by my two Turkish Angora cats. I have six different tall well made posts throughout the house but they prefer the cheap corrugated cardboard scratch toys. Posts cost over $300 each versus $10 cardboard. Go figure.

  27. my cats have scratched my leather sofa set along with my rugs. they have tons of toys, scratchers, poles, cat trees etc. no point spraying water on them because they luv the shower. go figure. I don’t care. I luv my babies

  28. We have a soft leather lounge and our cats have scratched it. At first on the arms, then the top.We would stop them of course, but they discovered the back where they could stretch up and not be seen. Maybe the stiffer leather lounges with the studs around them might not interest them. We also had an open weave material lounge and that was attacked also. I do think that tall scratching posts are the answer or lounge covers.

    1. My leather furniture has a firm frame and metal studs. It is torn up on the top, arms, sides and back. I think if a cat likes leather, they will always like leather.

  29. I have three cats. Two of them scratched my leather sofa and one did not. It is a good idea to get various types of scratching posts that the cat can fully stretch out it’s body on. There is one I purchased at chewy that is about three and a half feet tall with rope wrapped around it from the base to the top. The top is covered in a nice soft fabric. All three cats love love love this post! I have had it for four years. Very effective in keeping them off the furniture. I have narrowed it down to only one cat scratching the leather but he only does it now when he’s trying to get attention and I can catch him pretty quickly.

  30. Janeese Davidson

    Introducing a new warehouse semi feral cat into household. Very shiddish & hides alot. Will accept attention where caught. Advice to help her intagrate, thanks

    1. With semi ferals, I will have them stay in my bedroom with their food and litter box in the adjoining bathroom for the first couple of weeks while kitty gets used to people and the noises of a home. Then I start leaving the door open so the kitty can wander about when no one is home. Eventually kitty will start to be about the house more, and I sit by where kitty hides with some kitty treats and wait for the cat to come out to me. Then I pet the cat while he/she eats the treats. I also sit by and gently pet kitty while he/she eats at the cat bowl. Formally feral cats tend to always be hiders and skittish. It’s what they learned when they were little in order to survive. That said, there are home raised cats that are skittish too. Our once very feral cat only comes out to socialize at night when we are sitting watching TV. Then she jumps right up into a lap and cuddles for an hour or so, then disappears again. Some kitties are like that. Good for you for taking in a feral!

  31. Pingback: How to Pick Furniture That Cats Won’t Scratch | Born To Design

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