As a loving owner of a cat or dog, you know that it is not just your prized sofa—but also most of your home decor—that bears the brunt of your beloved pet. Because even when Fluffy isn't trying to destroy your upholstery, the simple act of climbing, sitting, or walking on it can warrant a heavy cleaning bill. This is how and why selecting the best upholstery for your couch gets complicated. Luckily, there are some heavy-duty fabrics that can withstand a few claw marks, prevent clinging pet hair, and resist dirt marks and stains due to the occasional accident from a cat or dog on the couch.
While training your pet to behave (and not to jump up on or scratch the couch), the best defense against furniture wear is pet-friendly upholstery fabrics. Select a fabric with a tight weave and one that is free of complicated textures.
Steer clear of light colors—even if you have a well-behaved and well-trained pet—and instead choose charcoal grey, brown, or camel-colored couches that hide fur and fit into the color schemes of most rooms. Select a fabric built for heavy usage areas and consider stain-resistant fabric or those meant for indoor and outdoor use, like Sunbrella.
Hands down, leather is one of the best couch coverings for pet owners. In fact, this long-lasting natural material actually improves with age and heavy use. Leather is easy to maintain, comes in many colors, and is available at different price points. But most of all, leather can stand up to pets.
Dirt and water can be easily removed and pet hair wipes right off and does not cling to the smooth leather surface. It is possible for your cat to poke holes in your leather sofa if he uses it as a scratching post, but general scratches tend to enhance the weathered look and feel of your living room's centerpiece. Most leather couches can be easily cleaned with sudsy water, but for serious stains, you should call a professional.
Microfiber, a synthetic fabric, provides another great choice for pet owners. It looks a bit like suede, is simple to clean and maintain, and wears well. Microfiber is more affordable than leather and can be found in many colors to suit most decor tastes. With no loops in the fabric, microfiber is virtually resistant to claw marks, as claws do not catch on the weave. Animal hair goes practically unnoticed, which is great if your pet is a long-haired breed.
Stains are easy to clean off microfiber couches—just blot the accident with a clean towel and then finish it off with a little soap and water. But check the manufacturer's instructions first. The best thing about microfiber is the texture it displays with a simple brush of the hand. Brush it one way for a lighter hue and then, should a stain happen, a darker tone can be achieved by running your hand over the fabric in the opposite direction.
For pet owners, a patterned fabric may be better than a solid color, as pet hair and stains will become less visible. And puppy owners should buy a suitable cotton throw that covers the entire couch (no matter what fabric you choose). Then, pull it off to display the couch underneath, once your pup has matured.
As for what to avoid: Steer clear of any fabric that is nubby, this fabric is fun for cats to scratch. Also, fragile fabrics—such as silk, wool, or linen—should be avoided altogether or used only where your pet is not allowed.