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.

28 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.

    • I have heard cat pheromones work. We just got cats and haven’t had a chance to prove this, but you can find pheromones in a spray can at your pet store and ask them for more details. Good luck.

  11. I went to four or five furniture stores and asked if they knew any catproof furniture. A couple of them were national retailer and none could give me any information. also asked my vet and they have something called sealcoat I am going to get a sample and try it on my old ( desroyed chair. This chair was upholstered in a heavy textured sculpted material. also my grandmother”s smooth brocaided 100 year-old chair. From what these posts said, I am assuming those fabrics are attractive to my two clawed cats.

    The chair I am thinking of buying is a smooth cottony material. Do you think this would work?
    The sales person suggested putting white vinegar on a dryer sheet and wait until it dries. My vet never heard of this solution. He suggested putting tin foil on the chair but i don’t think that would look very stylish.

    Any suggestions would really be appreciated. I am retired and can’t afford to keep replacing furniture. In the near future, I also need to replace a sofa so I really need good advice.


    • Hi Diane,

      Most likely your cats will still pick at the smooth cottony material, but it may not be quite as exciting as the rough textured material. It also won’t show wear as quickly. The microfiber material (fake suede) that I write about in my post is still the best choice in my opinion. My sofa still looks good and I wrote that post a few years ago. I still have the same two cats!

      • I totally agree with your assessment of what cats love. We have a sofa and loveseat that 1 of our 3 cats has scratched in places. It is a shiny chenille silk with beautiful brocaded flowers interwoven throughout the material. Cats love the shiny feel and then they can get their claws into the brocaded flowers. I am in the process of reupholstering both pieces and have chosen a polyester smooth material without any loops, brocaded flowers or anything they can get their claws into, not as beautiful as what I had, but I, too, cannot live any longer with everything covered. I’m also eliminating the skirts at the bottom of both pieces which seems to attract them to get underneath the skirts and into the sofa fabric of the actual sofa and scratch the pieces. Hopefully, I will have luck with this choice

    • I use “Scat-mats” to keep my cats off the furniture when I am not around. It delivers a static-like shock when they jump on it. It hasn’t kept them from scratching, but no more hair/throw up/peeing on the furniture. It only took one jump per cat, they never got back on it.

  12. I have Microfiber (I think, it is smooth) sofa and chair and my cats scratch the corners and have destroyed one corner, they scratched off the threads even after I sewed it back. Plus destroyed the fabric underneath. Help.


    • Hi Sylvia,

      Not sure if you have Microfiber or not. It feels and looks like suede. Cats don’t (typically) love it, because they can’t really hook their claws around any thick threads. Sorry you have had troubles.


  13. I purchased a micro suede recliner. I was so pleased when the cats scratched at it , it did not leave any marks. Now after 5 years the scratching has started shredding the microfiber. The chair is very comfortable but now looks shabby.

  14. I know it’s been awhile since anyone has posted. I have 5 cats (us crazy cat people) & still haven’t found a fabric they don’t love to shred. Anyway it’s time to get my formerly beautiful leather wingchairs recovered, I’m actually thinking of carpet. Any knowledge/ideas on that?


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