How to keep a cat from scratching your sofa to shreds

It stinks when two things you love equally don't get along.

Take the gorgeous sofa you splurged on and your partner-in-crime cat. It seems she's putting claws-to-couch just to spite you, turning your living room into a disaster zone. And the sofa's soft, sloped sides — well, they're basically asking for this torture, they look so damn scratch-able. You're stuck between a shredded seat and a furbaby.

Or are you?

Designer Ray Booth of design firm McAlpine, who owns two felines of his own, has this to say: "In my experience, it is best to not tempt the kitties with fabrics that entice their desire to file their claws! Nubby textiles on vertical surfaces are the worst when it comes to attracting the kitties to claw. Often, they are looking to remove the outer layers of the claws as new claws grow, also it feels so good to get a stretch on the vertical surface!"

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In other words, if you bought a sofa with loose-weave or looped upholstery (think regular linen), this dilemma is all on you. The best way to stop cats from scratching furniture is to avoid it altogether. When your sofa is clad in a tightly woven fabric like suede (designer and fellow cat owner Michael Formica's pick) or a synthetic indoor-outdoor material, your cat will have a harder time getting her claws into it, and hopefully the sofa will become much less interesting to her.

If you're not ready for new upholstery yet, you can always give diversion a try. "What I have found really helps with Gary, our cat, is we have the same scratching post we've had since he was a kitty, and he still uses it and he really doesn't attack the furniture at all," says Michael. Ray agrees: "In our household, it has been a matter of distraction — giving acceptable alternatives to not deny them this daily ritual. Thick carpets on scratching posts have been accepted in our house for Auvie and Roust’s pleasure. Bound rope also presents an appealing scratch-able and attackable surface."

Whichever route you decide to go, it's best to remember Michael's wise words: "Cats with claws, they do what it is that they do."