Microfiber Faux Suede Is Cats Meow Upholstery Solution for Sofa

Cat climbing furniture

Azle the cat.

By Trish Holder

Meet Azle.

Azle is our cat—and a darling little feline she is.  She’s sleek, beautiful, and affectionate. She’s has the most endearing little squeak instead of a meow.  She is also amazingly athletic and loves to jump from the floor to the back of our barstools (a full 52-inches vertical leap!) and perch there proudly as if to say, “Did you see that?  I’m awesome, aren’t I?”

Yes, she’s awesome.  And we love her.  We must – otherwise we would have skinned her alive for what she did to our brand new sofa.

BAD Cat!
Perhaps as part of her flexibility training for that Olympic feline high jump event she hopes to enter one day, Azle enjoys nothing more than a long, deep backstretch.   Unfortunately for us, this involved her digging her claws into our brand new American made sofa for an indulgent series of picks and scratches that left the sofa looking like road kill.

cat scratching

THIS is what our little darling, Azle, did to our new sofa

Scratching posts be-damned, nothing beat the loose woven fabric on this piece of furniture for getting the kinks out.  So for months, we sat helplessly by while our darling cat destroyed the fabric on one end of the sofa.

Now what?
We weren’t going to buy a new sofa.  That would be foolish and wasteful given that it is a quality piece of furniture in otherwise great condition.  And we weren’t going to banish Azle from the house.  Aside from her ability to jump really high, I’m pretty sure she lacks the proper survival instincts to become an outdoor cat.  The poor thing can’t even muster decent meow.  Besides, when she isn’t destroying furniture, she is a very beloved part of our family.

So the challenge was to find an upholstery material that Azle couldn’t (or at least wouldn’t) tear up.

Now, in a perfect Greenspiration Home world this would have been an American woven fabric, from organically harvested raw materials, by a company that is conscious about its carbon footprint.  It would also be a soft to the touch, stain resistant and, most importantly, totally unappealing to cats.   It also needed to be within our budget.

Did such a fabric exist?  Uh…no.

American made sofa

Stain resistant and cat resistant, we LOVE this new fabric!

The Poly Purr-fect Solution
What does exist, though, is a 100% polyester microfiber fabric that looks and feels like suede, repels liquid, and best of all doesn’t appeal to cats in the least.  A local eco-home décor shop recommended this product, and though I had to wait a ridiculously long time for my order to arrive, I couldn’t be more pleased with how the fabric performs.

Now, I know any product that begins with the four letters “p-o-l-y” are likely to draw frowns from the green purists.  But, to me, a busy working mom with a messy family who loves their cats, this easy to clean microfiber fabric proved the ideal solution. After all, there’s nothing green or sustainable about replacing or reupholstering your sofa every six months.

I was also told (though I could not confirm on my own) that the product I ordered is made in Georgia.  If I find out otherwise, trust me, I’ll let you know.

We like this material much better than the previous fabric.  It’s softer, prettier, and liquids bead up on it like rain on a freshly waxed car.  One quick wipe and whatever you spilled is gone.

The only one in the family that probably isn’t pleased is Azle.  As predicted by the shop owner, she doesn’t “dig” the microfiber.  She now limits her stretching and scratching routine to an old, primitive wooden bench where her scratch marks only add to the character.

17 Responses »

  1. Very well written, and great tips for cat owners who also love quality upholstery and like to be able to incorporate it into real life!

  2. Very well written, and great tips for cat owners who also love quality upholstery and like to be able to incorporate it into real life!

  3. I found out by accident that this was true. I bought a microsuede recliner and loveseat set. She will jump on it, lay on it, lick it, and later is still looks brand new. I agree with you.

    Also, you you can try slipping scratching posts under the corners of your couch. They may save you some money!

  4. We’ve had a very expensive sectional sofa for 25 years. Six years ago we adopted 3 cats. Sadly one is declawed but the other two LOVE to scratch. This sofa was upholstered in a smooth cotton fabric -
    probably some kind of polished cotton but it is NOT shiny. The cats love to lie on it because it has wonderful cushy pillows and is in front of the window. Miraculously after all these years it is still PURRFECT! The cats do not attempt to claw it or if they do they get nowhere – it is too SMOOTH. I think that is the key.

    Other upholstered pieces here have been destroyed. Two had a nubby fabric and another a textured
    leather-like fabric. They have been ripped to pieces.

    I hope this helps. The sectional was and still is very elegant and the fabric is very pale in color – white,
    grays and mauves in a flame-stitch type pattern. There is nothing “chintzy” about it, which is what comes to mind when I think of polished cotton, but I didn’t know how else to describe it. You can probably find a smooth cotton fabric in just about every style and color.

    Good luck!

  5. Yes–a very well written testimonial!
    I’m an upholsterer. It’s always been a satisfying part of my work to restore (& improve) rather than throw it away. Reupholstering is Green!
    I also have two cats with claws. They have that need to scratch so I’ve provided a couple scratching posts for them– which they love to use.
    I cut the hooks off their nails with a nail clipper and that helps keep damage to other furniture to a minimum.
    It makes sense that ultra suede with its smooth surface wouldn’t have much appeal for scratching. And another great quality of synthetic suede is it’s easily cleaned with soap & water.

    • Dear Debra,

      I was encouraged upon reading your reply, because i need a response from a genuine upholsterer. I have two young cats, and am looking for a new sofa. The rep at the store told me that the polyester fabric samples I have are microfiber because all 100% poly is microfiber. I have my doubts.

      Help please?

      With thanks, ella

      • Hi Ella,

        I know your question was directed at Debra, but I’m going to offer my two cents. There are all kinds of polyester fabrics — but when we speak of microfiber we are speaking of an imitation suede material that is unlike any type of woven. And that is key because it is the “loopy” part fabrics that most cats adore picking at. The imitation suede microfiber materials, however, don’t seem to give them the pleasure, perhaps because they aren’t able to hook their claws around the threads. FYI, my sofa still looks great. Wish I could say the same for my door jams! :o )


  6. We have a microfiber faux suede couche that my cat does do some scratching on, but not as much as the nice living room sofa. Are there different kinds of microfiber faux suede, other than 100% polyester?

  7. I have a microfiber sectional that my cat has enjoyed scratching. The arms, seat cushions and sofa backs are destroyed. Do you have any other recommendations?

    • Ugh! I’m sorry to hear your cat loves microfiber too. Are you sure it is the imitation suede-like material you have? They don’t typically care for that because there’s no nap for them to hook their claws into. (For some reason this is very satisfying to cats!) I’ve been lucky in that my destructive cat has totally moved on after we re-upholstered our cat. Unfortunately, she sometimes enjoys picking at the door jams, but mostly likes and old, very rusty, crusty bench. I wish you luck and I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer for you!!!


  8. It would be helpful to have the name of the product you used.

    • It is any type of microfiber, imitation suede upholstery material. Any upholsterer should be able to point you in the right direction.

  9. Interesting. I am looking to recover dining room chairs that my cat, TC, tunes his claws on. I gave him my old leather office chair when the base died that he loves shredding. He will not listen when I tell him the dining room chairs are mine. Five years ago I found a sofa sleeper through Craigslist that was almost new. TC regularly works his claws into the sofa with no signs of his work anywhere. I am trying to determine the fabric of the sofa with no luck. Who carries polyester microfiber?

    • Hi Chris,

      Pretty much any large fabric retailer will carry microfiber (imitation suede) upholstery material. Or, you can go directly through an interior designer who can measure and order the fabric for you, as well as coordinate with the upholster. I can’t tell you what type of fabric you have on your Craigslist find, but I do know that cats tend not to like non-woven or very tightly woven materials as much. It’s just not as satisfying to them. They really dig more nubby, open weave materials that they can hook their claws into — which unfortunately includes a lot of really beautiful fabrics. :o )

      Good luck!


  10. What would you recommend for people who have cats that decided to pee on the sofa? We added to our feline family last year and have had to undergo territorial disputes. Also, I’m trying to determine who is sick, as they may be the actual culprit.

    For the moment, I have some Babyville diaper cover fabric draped over the sofa, but it’s a stopgap measure, not a solution.



    • To remove cat urine odor from fabric, saturate it with Nature’s Miracle. It can be found on line or at many pet stores. I had an outdoor cat slip into the house, get trapped, and pee on a plush couch. To make matters worse, it was along the seam between cushions. It took a few attempts to remove the smell because you have to saturate the entire affected area, but the smell is gone. Miracle product for sure. It breaks down the urine chemically so t does remove the smell, not just cover t up.


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