A new couch and a houseful of cats can live together in harmony, but you may need to do a little advance planning. Buy claw covers for your cats, or get a scratching post to give them something to meet their innate need to scratch. Alternatively, provide some negative reinforcement by clapping or zapping your cats with water or canned air to teach them to stay off the furniture. If none of this works, you may have to fall back on Plan B: buying a couch with upholstery that's tough enough to withstand a beating.
Microfiber is a favourite upholstery fabric for cat owners. Since microfiber is a durable synthetic material, it resists tears, and its tight weave makes it hard for cats to catch and pick with their claws. It can be cleaned with a damp cloth and hair can be vaccuumed off relatively easily.
Some cat owners report their cats don't claw leather furniture. Theories as to why this is true range from the fact that leather is harder to claw and puncture, to the belief that leather is too smooth a texture to be an appealing scratching post. In any case, a distressed leather finish shows scratches less than some other materials; scratches can also be buffed with leather cleaner to be less noticeable.
Microsuede is loved by some cat owners and hated by others. Those who like it cite its smooth, nub-free texture as a reason their cats don't get their claws caught in it. They also comment that microsuede is warm to the touch, durable and easy to clean. Others, however, complain that it shows marks and lint, attracts hair and, although it allows smaller snags, it does still show them.
Denim is a tough, durable fabric that some cat owners report holds up well. A heavy denim material is harder to puncture or scratch than lighter materials, doesn't show marks and provides no big loops for cats to get their claws into.