When selecting a sofa fabric for a home with pets, there is more to consider than merely animal fur and shedding. Cats and dogs also deliver wear and tear through their nails and claws, saliva, odor, and any dirt they may have tracked on their paws. Faced with the wrong adversaries, a new couch can look greatly used in a very short time. Prior to making a purchase, an evaluation of fabric choic-es is in order. While no one material can completely withstand the added wear and tear possible with a pet, some choices are indis-putably better than others.
Therefore, a discussion of those fabrics preferred for pets is in order, including distressed leather, microfibers, Ultrasuede, and Cryp-ton. External options, such as Scotchgarding the fabric or outfitting the couch with a slipcover or throw blanket may also be consid-ered. Although not as effective as choosing the right fabric at the outset, such layers of protection can undoubtedly add life to or prevent the occurrence of a pet-worn sofa.
Once the decision to buy has been made, appropriate couches are available from a variety of places including furniture outlets, de-partment stores, and online display sites, such as the ever-popular buying site eBay.
The Pet-Friendly Home
Owning a cat or a dog can bring a new kind of happiness to a home; in fact, pet ownership has proven health benefits, as well. How-ever, not all homes are animal-ready, in which case a certain amount of protection and adjustment will need to be taken to make the environment safe and comfortable for both pet and owner.
One such area of contention revolves around the furniture. A lint roller may be the perfect stopgap when a few cat hairs dot a suit jacket, but against the sofa on which the pet sleeps, it is nearly useless. Other considerations include the cat or dog’s fur, dander, and dirt. There is a reason many families with pets shy away from cream or light-colored carpeting, as it readily displays every speck and stain. As they do in evaluating carpet colors and surfaces, pet owners are similarly taking a second look at their couch coverings, as different materials provide varying degrees of protection against claws, fur, and dirt. A lesser factor, but one still worth a thought, is the composition of the material, as cats can sometimes become trapped if their claws get stuck in too wide a weave.
Sofa Fabrics for Pet Owners to Consider
Prior to the evolution in fabric options for furniture, pet owners were advised to select patterned or textured materials. Dark, muddy colors were recommended, too, as a means of hiding dirt and hair. These days, however, materials both natural and manmade are widely available, allowing furniture owners to maintain the best appearance while enjoying the welcome company of man’s best friend.
Today, a number of fabrics have been either identified or created to withstand the added wear and tear that can be delivered by pets.
As the above table illustrates, no one material offers every single benefit. The pros and cons of some sofa fabrics are discussed below.
Despite the “bachelor pad” notion that leather furniture is inappropriate for pets and children, the material often holds up well to many challenges. Leather has more than a few advantages when it comes to furniture in homes with pets. To start, the material is easily wiped clean, whether of dirt, slobber, or fur; in addition, leather is also fairly resistant to odor.
In pet-friendly households, however, distressed leather is preferable to coated, as any scratch marks will only blend in to its patina de-sign. Furniture designers Bob Williams and Mitchell Gold recommend a finish of full-aniline dyed leather, which, with its color density, will better absorb scratches; a painted-on finish, on the other hand, is more likely to be marred by dog, cat, or ferret nails.
Manmade fibers, such as Ultrasuede or microfiber, offer a number of benefits to households with pets, including durability, versatility, a broad color palette, and easy care. As the materials are synthetic, they make fur cleanup easier, and enable the easy removal of stains and dirt with just a sponge, soap, and water.
Another important point of note is that synthetic fabrics are more tightly woven than natural options like cotton, tweed, or chenille. Not only will this better withstand the claws of a cat, resisting damage and ensuring that the cat’s paw does not get stuck in the upholstery, but it also prevents pet fur from becoming woven into the couch itself. When this happens, hair removal can be quite a challenging prop-osition.
As it is especially durable and rugged, the synthetic creation Crypton is worthy of its own discussion. Crypton is not only stain and odor resistant, but it also repels both moisture and bacteria. Designed to withstand rough use, especially that which is delivered in hospital and industrial settings, Crypton holds the distinction of being nearly indestructible, making it ideal for homes with pets. As with other synthetic fibers, a damp sponge easily wipes it clean.
Beyond choosing a pet-friendly couch fabric, homeowners can protect their furniture in other ways. Two of the more popular means are safeguarding the fabric with Scotchgard or shielding the entire piece of furniture with a slipcover. Scotchgarding is a simple and popular solution that, with proper application, enables the fabric to be easily wiped clean. Slipcovers have the added bonus of providing a choice of colors, patterns, and fabrics, thereby enabling an old sofa to look fresh and new. As slipcovers will shrink the more they are washed, however, a looser fit is advised for homes with pets, where the covers will receive more launderings. Finally, a fleece throw or other tem-porary covering may provide some relief. These solutions may be especially welcome if a couch is already in the home when a pet joins the family.
Sofa Fabrics for Pet Owners to Avoid
Just as there are specific sofa fabrics that are recommended for households with pets, there are others that should be avoided when dogs and cats enter the home.
Many people prefer the look and feel of a chenille finish, as it is both textured and soft. However, when animal nails come into contact with the loops comprising its nubby pile, the finish is easily pulled and soiled and, once unraveled, it is impossible to repair.
At a glance, velvet seems like the ideal fabric for pets. Its pile is soft and sturdy, and a dark shade hides dirt well. In addition, its surface is such that hair and debris are easily wiped away with a damp cloth or lint brush. However, stains in velvet are extremely difficult to re-move, and undue animal activity may crush the velvet irreparably.
Even in pet-free households, silk is a bit of a gamble. Although beautiful to the eye and the touch, it is fragile and highly prone to stains, tears, and moisture damage. It is also tremendously difficult to clean.
True, tweed is a surface easily cleaned, yet it is one to which pet hair holds tight. Similar to chenille, any damage to its surface is also diffi-cult, if not impossible, to repair.
Wool and linen are both fragile, easy to mar, and hard to clean, making them two additional fabrics pet owners should avoid when choos-ing a sofa and other furniture.