Decorating, With Cat (s): My Confession

As a single professional I preach the possibility of having feline roommates without letting your home fall to shambles. Love of felines need not come at the exclusion of having a man – or good furniture.

But the truth is. I’m a sham. Like an actress with airbrushed cellulite, I’ve portrayed my home as something it is not.  I’ve decided it’s time I come clean.

As with most secrets it’s been hiding in plain sight. 

Yes it’s orange, but that’s not the worst of it (in my defense it was a floor sample and at $400 just the right price!). A feline novice at the time, I purchased furniture with a loose weave and large loops. I may as well have put a huge “cat scratcher” sign over it. Kip has been the biggest offender.

I love my chaise; it’s the most comfortable piece of furniture in my apartment (other than my bed).  But I couldn’t live like this anymore, I had to take this problem head on. But what to do?

I’d read micro-fibers/faux micro-suede was the way to go when it came to cats, it seems they don’t find those fabrics appealing. The tighter the weave the better, as HGTV’s very own cat loving Candice Olsen corroborated in a recent interview.

I searched for replacements but they were either out of my price range, too large for my apartment or not on the sales floor  (which mean ordering blindly without ever seeing or sitting on it).

That’s when I considered reupholstering. It’s not always the cheapest option but if there’s a piece of furniture you really like, it may be worth it and it’s certainly the greener way to go – less furniture for the junk yard!

With the help of New York City based interior designer Elizabeth Holmes I selected my micro fiber upholstery from Mood Fabrics – of Project Runway Fame. And  in less than a week I had a lovely charcoal chaise lounge that looked brand new!

micro suede good for cat homes

So far so good. Kip, who managed to mangle my velvet sofa by picking away at the piping,  hasn’t yet begun deconstructing the chaise. As a precaution I purchased several extra yards of fabric to cover it with when I’m home alone – it looks much nicer than a throw.

TIP: if you reupholster make sure to ask for leftover upholstery, it might not be offered up but it’s yours! 

Mini chaise for cats

Now I’ve got my eyes on an adorable matching cat chaise from ModPet. I’m thinking a photo shoot with Petie would be in order – dueling chaise lounges!

Do you have any tricks to share for keeping kitties from scratching your furniture?  Have you had luck with microfiber? We want to hear about it!

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  • One thing they do not tell you about microfiber – we kitties may not like it much as a scratching surface, but it is an awesome collector of cat hair! So you will be working overtime with the lint roller. At least that is my human’s experience with her Victorian-style microfiber couch.

    • I’ve been super lucky and no hair issues! I think there are different types of microfiber/suede so i will do some investigating and report back! 

  • Lily

    Yep, fuzz bucket collector if ever there was one.  Forget the lint roller … not enough oomph … put on a rubber glove and lightly rub over to collect fur.  Use lint roller for the remainder.  Good luck 🙂 

    • ohh rubber glove is a GREAT idea! Also a damp dish rag!

  • Sarah Menzies

    Haha love this post!!
    Oh and faux suede is the best! We have ONE chair that is faux suede and it’s never once been touched by the cats! When we buy a new couch we’re going to get it in the same fabric for this very reason :o)

  • I love that you shared this! A few years ago I purchased a sofa whose fabric was absolutely irresistible to my cat Billy (my other two cats never scratched on it). I tried putting scratching posts in front of the sofa arms which Billy loved to pull on–but he would reach around the posts to get to the fabric (Smart boy!).  I’m still living with this piece of furniture. Eager to hear about the microfiber. 

    Deborah Julian
    http://www.DeborahJulian.etsy.com

    • Ohhhh stay tuned b/c i’m going to have a contest where people have to post photos of their most destroyed/distressed/artistic? cat-affected furniture! Kitties are smart! 

  • Annameow

    OMC!!! THIS is your confession????!!!! Girl, I was hoping for something real juicy! LOL It is good information though. hmmm…that orange color. Pizazzy!  Now go do something worthy of a REAL confession! Mah-hahaha

    • Oh dear…I really do need to get a life eh? 🙂

  • Cindy

    This is fabulous information.  I hope you keep us up-to-date on whether they decide its scratch worthy … because if not, RTG outlet here I come.

  • Patacat

    wonderful, I just recently got given a cat proof sofa, I love it, i have hidden my old ones under throws and pillows, but this one can stand freely.  Kids will ruin your house quicker then cats do, my ex boyfreinds ruine my house more then the cat, with his cigerette, constant spilling of drink and inability to use the toilet correctly

    • All I can say is, I’m glad he is an EX! Seriously!

  • I know the shame of ruined furniture myself!

    • I know right?! I’m a terrible example! Do what I say not what I do! ha!

  • Anonymous

    I pretty much have a living room for my cats.  I used to have a leather couch that was given to me.  It was free and as ugly as it was, I cannot pass up free!  I had read that cats don’t like leather so I thought I was good to go.  Yeah, not so much. Other than the scratching posts, it was their favorite thing to scratch.  So if you ever think about leather, don’t!

    • Becky WW

       Yes, our 3 kittehs have ruined our leather furniture too. Good job I love them more than I love the furniture. We put the sticky strips on the parts we thought they would scratch, but they just scratch where there aren’t sticky strips, including  the cushion pads! So glad you wrote this post Tamarr, as I’ve been wondering for a while about cat-safe sofas!

  • My microfiber is full of cat hair, and has collected every stain imaginable. It seems impossible to clean this stuff. But the cats love to sit on it. The good part is the sofabed was super-cheap. The bad part is it was hard to fit it through the door and I dread getting another sofa. I might just get a staple gun and re-upholster it myself.

    • WOW! you are the first person to say they don’t love their microfiber! I’m doing more research on it so stay-tuned! 

      • Traceyvk9

        I love my micro fiber loung suit but it is hard to clean. Cat fur is easy but anything else the furniture just holds on to like a missed lover

  • Graffixx_gal

    I got a microsuede couch with 3 cats in my home, 5 years later and down to 2 cats, still no damage.  Tinker got under a car and brought in motor oil, that cleaned off with dawn dish soap, Goop (mechanics soap) and dollar store upholstery cleaner with warm water.  I love my cats and I love my microsuede couch!  Great job on your chaise!

    • wow! that’s quite a testament to microsuede! Dawn is pretty amazing….we forget that dish soap is meant to cut through grease/oil and doesn’t have moisturizers and stuff like hand and body soaps! thanks for the compliment on the chaise 🙂

  • Lighthousefan64

    I am hoping the that microfiber works as well as faux suede because it was just delivered today. My Ikea  chair is now the chair that I hide away.

  • Lynette

    Oh man, I thought it was something juicy too.. My cats like to scratch too so I bought Balinese wooden day beds and I put some scratching post around for them.  Now no more scratching!

    • Damn, I will have to come up with something better next time! How sad that in my reality this is a huge confession! ha!

  • Anonymous

    I have a microfiber sofa.  Maybe I have the wrong kind because one of the arms is full of snags from my Penny’s constant clawing.  The only reason why I’m not upset is because I’ve had the sofa for 8 years and the snags coordinate well with the general wear and tear of the material.  Even though the sofa doesn’t look so pretty these days it’s still in excellent shape structurally so I’m just gonna invest in a slipcover or two.

    • Love your perspective/attitude “the snags coordinate well with the general wear and tear”!
      I only recently got turned on to slip covers that really cling to the shape of your furniture – brilliant!

  • Kathleen

    I’m sure hoping you’re correct about the microfiber.  We were looking for new living room furniture and I saw your interview recommendation.  So when we started we told sales people we only wanted microfiber.  I didn’t realize it came in so many different material styles.  But we have the one that looks like suede and so far the cats love sitting/lying on it, but no scratches!  Thanks for the cat hair cleaning tip Lily.  I was just starting to realize that problem with light colored cats and a chocolate colored sectional.  We’ve only had it less than a week, but I have high hopes!  We were told that spills, etc. can be easily blotted up if caught quickly before they soak on, but we also paid an extra $99 for a protection plan from the store that includes 5 years of stain removal if we get any.

    • Let us know how it goes! I wonder if spraying static cling on it will help with clean up? Keep us posted! 

  • JEN B.

    I’VE HAD THE MICROFIBER COUCH W/ CHASE FOR 6 MONTHS. WHAT A GOD SENT. TWO OUT OF THE THREE CATS HAVE NOT STOP TRYING TO CLAW THEIR WAY THOUGH, NOT A MARK! DOWN SIDE IS THE FUR. I HAVE TO CLEAN IT EVERY DAY! GOOD LUCK TO ALL!!!!

    • I know right! I love it! 🙂
      So far so good on the fur. It hasn’t been a big collector! 

  • I love it – turned out great and love you writing in this post – I smiled the whole time – beautiful use of words.

    • Thanks Jenny. That means SO much to me – esp as I don’t really consider myself a “real” writer! 🙂 i LOVE hearing that you smiled throughout! 

  • it looks GORGEOUS!!!! Love, love, LOVE the color!!!!! Also LOVE your candor! I purchased a microfiber couch last winter, not knowing that that material is less desirable to a cat, but now that you mention it, Cody never even attempts to scratch it! Thankfully I have never had a huge problem with my Angel Bobo scratching when he was alive, nor Cody. The most Cody tries to scratch is the carpet in my office. When I catch him in the act I simply say “NO!” (like that works lol), or I gently redirect him to one of his MANY scratchers which frankly, he doesn’t care for ANY of them!

    • awww THANKS CAREN!!!! people do complain about the cat hair but I honestly have had NO problem with that and i have an array of colored cats – black, white, grey, tabby! 

  • Sarahnoid

    I have a new microfiber couch and the kitties (five of them–I’m never getting laid again) haven’t scratched on it at all.  Part of that is that I put up that double-sided sticky tape stuff on each corner where they like to go.  They hate that tape stuff.  Except for Nina, who likes to lick it.  (She’s special.)

    They aren’t as kind with my easy chair, but they don’t scratch on the taped corners, only on the arms when they come up to sit on my lap.  I can catch them when they do that (I put my hands down directly on their paws and their claws retract) and my furniture is surviving.

    The main helper for me is the giant eyesore of the cat-jungle-gym that I have in my bedroom for them.  It’s got jute rope around each pole and carpet covered flat surfaces.  They all love that thing and claw on it like there’s no tomorrow.  (I have no carpet in my house, so I don’t worry about the carpet-connection.)  It’s huge and ugly, but they love it.

    • OMG i am dying laughing “Five of them – – I’m never getting laid again”! ha! I hear ya! I currently have my 3 and 3 kitten fosters! I justify that kittens don’t count as entire cats. I think 2-3 kittens = 1 grown cat don’ t you think?

      wow, you are a good mom….i couldn’t handle a large ugly cat-jungle-gym – especially in my one-bedroom NYC apartment! It would become the centerpiece!

      Thanks for posting! I have a feeling you’d love some of the posts in my BEST OF section (see navigation – upper right) check them out!

  • Karen Nichols

    When Mr Tasty Face and I merged households, I was in a panic over his beautiful white leather furniture quickly being ruined by cat scratches, but found the cats never touched it. 15 years later, it’s still in pretty pristine condition. We do have a ratty cat couch in the family room that we turned over to the cats for their furniture scratching pleasure. 

    • Mr Tasty Face! ha! Wow, i’m surprised leather held the test of time..I wonder how pleather would hold up as well as I’m trying to reduce leather consumption!

  • Karen Nichols

    BTW, I’ve found that a damp sponge works well in scraping off cat hair. 

  • Jmuhjacat

    Though not exactly purist in the cruelty-free department, leather is one elegant, long-wearing, and decidedly cat-unattractive way to go.  Not only do my clowder never claw my leather upholstered furniture, they avoid the sofa altogether, rarely jumping up on the chairs for a nap.  btw, love the chaise, both before (Purrformance art) and after! 😉

  • Kelly

    The reupholstered chaise lounge looks so nice! We recently bought a new couch and I’m afraid of what, if left to their own devices, my cats might do to it. I keep it covered with a SureFit microfiber slip cover. So far, that seems to be working.

    • THANKS Kelly! Oh, a slip cover is a GREAT idea! I should tell my sister about that!

  • Harley and I never scratch on our microfiber sofa, it still looks brand new!  The reupholstered chaise looks fabulous.

    • GOOD KITTIES and thanks so much for the compliment **smiles proudly**

  • LOL Tamar – your post reads like one of the chapters in my book entitled, “I surrender.” Face it , with cats, a Plan “B” always needs to be your plan “A!” I do love the new look however, and microsuede really is the way to go (cat vomit cleans up nice and easy too!!)

    • lol! i can’t wait to read your book Deb! so true about easy to clean too – good point! 

  • Angela Arias

    I LOVE the new style of your chaise. Looks so modern and cozy!!!Microfiber has worked for me and my 3 (now 4) cats. I have a microfiber couch and has been safe from the claws of them. I don’t know why but they don’t have fun scratching on this type of fabrics. Personally I think microfiber is  easy to clean and remove the cat hairs. On the other hand, my easy chair has suffered several scratches and here’s my confession: the synthetic leather chair in my living room have a dark secret hidden under the decorative fabric that covers it … and it is because my cat Eli, found a fun way to stick his nails there when he was a baby. Now I’m thinking of reupholstering.

    • BAH! I’m sorry but i LOVE the “action” shot! ha! You do a GREAT job concealing it – i’d have never known!

      I’m lucky and cat hair hasn’t been a big problem at alL!

      Thanks for your readership and for taking time to post Angela! 

  • Keith Phillips

    Confession is good for the soul, so you must now have an AWESOME soul.  Great post.  Thanks, Tamar.  Also, the rubber gloves are great.  The kind for garden work (fabric back, rubber coated on fingers and palm) are the best.

    • LOL! Thanks Keith! Loving the rubber glove idea – garden kind does seem like it would be perfect! 

  • shannontm817

    Hi Tamar! I have lived this story! The first sofa we purchased had a nubby fabric, WHAT was I thinking?  It’s been moved to the spare room aka the room cats go when they alone time or if we get a new cat. When we finally replaced it we also made the decision to go with mircofiber (sort of sueded look). It has been a HUGE success. It’s been over 3 years and so far it’s fine. It should be noted that it does attract hair. I’m a fan of Gonzo Pet Hair Lifter (I get mine on Amazon but they sell them all over). Good luck! I love the chaise in gray.
    Shannon

    • I’ve never heard of GONZO pet hair lifter – i’m going to have to check it out! Thanks for the hot tip and I’m happy to hear you are happy with your micosuede experience! Happy to have you at I HAVE CAT Shannon! Welcome welcome! =^^=

  • Erica W.

    Aww…love the new upholstery!  Our best luck has been in buying really high quality upholstery with a thick/tight weave and using a fabric shaver on areas where there are pulls.  The fabric shaver was an afterthought, honestly…I bought a cheap-o one on Amazon to combat pilling on some of my favorite activewear pieces at the suggestion of some salesladies at the store that sells said activewear…turns out it works MIRACLES on areas of fabric that’ve been scratched.  Of course we also keep sisal rope posts in a couple different rooms of our apartment and encourage them to scratch those, too.

    • Aww thanks Erica! So far so good! yes, the tighter the weave the better! Fabric shaver is an interest tip thanks! 🙂

  • Luanne57

    as someone who has always had a huge “cat family” and also been doing fostering in “large quantities” for some time now, along with having a special needs kitty who’s now considerered in his senior years with even more disability, i have found that the best way to go for me, at least, is shabby chic.  I have given up on brand new furniture, and instead go for something that’s cheap, durable and that i can put lots of cushions and pilows on as they are easy to wash an less likely to do damage to the whole couch or chair.  the last couch i had was a big wicker one and the cushions and pillows were all individual so if something got pee’d or puked on, i could easily wash it and/or dispose of it.  course the cats liked wicker and that eventaully gave out.  I now recently purchased a daybed to be used as my couch.  it was a great buy at $40!!  my current matress, which due to the “downsizing” this last year, is pretty much one of the very few pieces of furniture i have left, and being home to so many permanent kitties along with fosters (head count right now at 13), the box springs and mattress have been badly BADLY clawed!!!  Corners have been completely unstuffed, and u can literally see thru the top fibers into the foam of the mattress now.  this set came to me used too for $25 (note here, don’t buy used mattresses unless u know who they are coming from and the source can be trusted not to be gross, have bed bugs, etc).  Soon it will be tossed into the trash with the boxspring and the new daybed errected (sp?) in it’s place!  It just don’t pay to new furniture when u have pets!!  i may post pics of the mattress…but it’s embarrassing, so i’ll have to think on it! lol

    • Shabby Chic – love it! Well I’m planning on a contest soon so save that embarrassing photo! 

  • Luanne57

    oh and cat fur??  i could write a book on that as as seperate subject from furniture! LOL

  • I replaced my couch with an inexpensive loveseat and footstool from Ikea that had a variety of custom-fit covers available.  The cover’s fabric is kind of heavy, and it seems to take my two girls about 9-12 months to really shred one.  When it starts looking especially ragged, I replace it with a new one…an exciting time for the kitties, as you can probably imagine. 😉  The plain cream colored covers were the cheapest – $19.99 – so I stocked up.

    • that’s a great idea Duke! I love how you have timed how long it takes them to destroy one! ha! 

  • Love your new look but what about the cats? Are they missing their fuzzy and frayed friend? Our guys won’t touch leather and our fabric sofa is safe but stairs? Not so much. We have two flights of runners that get a good workout. I place gaffer tape over the worst of it.  Ironically, everyone gets scratches trees outdoors. You’d think the natural stuff would suffice but no. Indoors, it’s more about territorial marking. When scratching, their toe pads leave yummy scent markings too.

    • The cats have plenty I’m not worried! I can only imagine what the kitties do to runners! It is funny that they still scratch inside..wouldn’t have though outdoor/indoor cats would do that! 

  • Link has killed my couch.  Thank goodness it’s only a hideous hand me down.  Once I’m ready to grow up and be a big girl with nice furniture, I’m definitely going to keep microfiber in mind.  Stephen, my fiance, has a faux leather couch at his apt.  Link pretty much leaves that alone, although it has acquired some “accidental” scratches due to Link’s obsession to play anywhere and everywhere.

    • yeh, it’s hard to have a “grown up” home with pets! But i’m trying! 

  • Donna

    I am just repeating what I posted on Tiny Timmy page when he shared your “problem”  — Da is kittens and da do whats ever pleases deem selves and den day run sides ways and get puffy and youza giggles

    • LOL! I love that description it’s totally accurate ! 🙂
      Thanks Donna! 

  • Traceyvk9

    I’m lucky our little princess Sparky only scratches furniture and my son’s wheelchair when she thinks I’m taking to long to feed her or my bed when I’m asleep. But she has almost killed my late husband’s strawbroom. She uses it to sleep on, sharper her claws and if I pick it up as a toy to attack and chew

    • Isn’t it funny how they hone in one thing and you just can’t get them off of it? That’s funny about when she thinks you are taking too long to feed her! Kitty! 

  • Julieq

    Your couch looks great recovered.  I have two couches covered in the same material as the earlier red stuff.  Luckily Poppy has avoided scratching either couch, and prefers the wooden deck and outside furniture, which is fine with me.

    • Thanks! You are lucky Poppy doesn’t go for your furniture…it’s a losing battle!

  • Laney

    I got a microfiber couch about two years ago. It was cheap, and they delivered it. I had two cats at the time, now three. They like to scratch it, but they have other things to scratch, too.The couch has held up amazingly well. It’s got some spots, but they have not torn through it. I would definitely recommend microfiber to anyone with cats.

    • so far so good on my end..i can see there is one area they are trying to make progress on…fingers crossed! Thanks for the readership and for taking the time to comment Laney!
      =^^=

  • www.catchinglizards.com

    i got a micro fiber sofa,  but keep it covered all the time.  As a result i haven’t given my 5 a chance to do much damage.  I did notice my youngest scratching on the one little spot not covered by throws!!!!  I soon realized all she wanted was for me to move the sofa from the wall so she could looks for her mousies ~~ dumb mommy!! lol

    • ihavecatnyc

      LOLOL! That is hysterical! “maaaaa!!!! you aren’t paying attention!!! sheesh!” 🙂

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