Finding furniture that dogs and cats won't ruin is a challenge for pet owners. Here are some things to think about when you're buying furniture, along with some ideas for protecting it from fur, stains and scratches.
Leather: Many dog owners report that leather works well as a pooch-proof alternative to fabric. "It's that kind of glossed leather that repels water and dirt," says Sydney Masters of New York. Her dog, Angus, a West Highland terrier, tends to stay off the sofa because the leather surface is "not as comfy or warm as other places and it's a little slippery," she says. If he does occasionally sit on it, Masters says the dirt is easily wiped off. But leather might not work for households with cats, who may damage it with their claws, according to the American Humane Association's chief veterinary adviser, Dr. Patricia Olson. Owners of dog breeds that habitually dig or scratch might also think twice about leather.
Microfiber: In addition to leaving scratch marks on leather, cat claws can destroy fabric upholstery. Some cat owners say that microfiber, a synthetic, velvety suede-like material, is a good alternative. It's smoother and less appealing to cats than knits or woven fabric they can sink their claws into. And fur — from dogs or cats — is easily removed from microfiber with a vacuum, lint roller or cloth. Microfiber can also be spot-cleaned.
Fabric: Texture and design matter when choosing furniture. Some folks don't like the feel of leather (too cold) or microfiber (too synthetic) compared to fabric. Fabric-covered sofas and chairs also come in the widest range of colors and patterns, offering more choices.
If you own pets and must have fabric-covered sofas, consider this advice from Jay Jeffers of the Jeffers Design Group in San Francisco: "I would always suggest a fabric with a small pattern or texture — a herringbone pattern or small check creates a great disguise."
And don't be afraid to camouflage your pet's fur. "In our house, the furniture is in similar colors to our pets, so their fur blends in," Jeffers said.
Fabric slipcovers that are easily removed and washed are a plus. Some brands, like Ikea, sell fitted slipcovers for their sofas so they can be replaced easily.
A couch of their own: Where should sleeping dogs lie? One way to keep pets off your furniture is to give them a sofa of their own. Other choices range from $30 floor pillows at discount pet chains to $1,200 to $1,400 custom B-Home brand dog beds.
Covering up: The simplest way to protect furniture from pets is to throw a washable blanket or sheet on it. Problem is, these makeshift covers slip, come untucked and often look a mess. Consider a fitted slipcover or other covering designed to stay put and look neat.