• Melissa Volker

Cats, Kids, and Couch Covers


A few years ago we decided it was time for a new couch. Looked around, sat on a bunch, checked out budget, sat on some more. Thought perhaps we'd do something a little different. But not too nappy, because cats. And claws. But we were getting rid of a traditionally upholstered couch, so not that either. Maybe leather? Cool, industrial -- and wicked expensive. Bonded leather?

Research, check the budget, go sit on a few, spend a half and hour talking with a salesman picking his brain on durability: we have a kid, a boy, people in and out -- this our living room, by the way, not a separate family room (which we do not even have, by the way) -- and cats. Let's not forget the cats. A small handful of them, in fact.

In the end, a lovely black bonded leather couch with white saddle stitching came home.

And within a month, the cats had put more pock marks in it than there are stars in the sky on clear autumn night. I had a few choice words for the salesman I had spoken to, but decided instead to simply never shop there again, and go for a slipcover.

Any idea how many different kinds of slipcovers there are? Any idea how many of them are more of a pain in the rear than just living with a pock-marked couch? Any idea how many only fit certain types of couches? How about how many cost almost as much as a new couch?

I can make it easy -- the answer is the same for all of them: A LOT.

But I figure something out, and go with making (yes MAKING, I'm crafty, dammit) a drop cloth cover, patterning it out, sewing enormous yards of heavy fabric that piles up across our dining room table like the mud Devil's Tower in "Close Encounters". But it's that casual, wheat-color, Pottery Barn kind of look for about one millionth of the price. Sounds like a win-win.

Except that tailoring to an overstuffed sofa with strange, puffy corners is no easy task. It's not bad, but it's a bit wonky. But we go with it for a while.

Except cats. Black cats. Black cats that have long hair and shed every. single. day. every. day. of. the. year. And kids -- with dirty pants, chocolate ice cream and pizza (because yes, we eat in our living room sometimes - gasp!).

But we live with for a while. I wash it, iron it again and wrestle it back on the couch. The back of it slides around on the faux leather getting bunchy and wrinkled. The front skirt gets shifted because it's not tailored tightly and starts looking like a ruffle. And it needs washing again.

Forget it. I'll live with the pock-marked fake leather. When the sun is indirect you can't really see them anyway. Unless you are sitting on it. But, whatever. Except the new discovery is that the summer quilt thrown "Home and Garden" casual along the back keeps slipping off and falling behind the couch where it sits on the outlet to the lamp on the side table. I envision a quick spark, a flash, and our pock-marked couch melting into a gooey pile of fake leather, not to mention the rest of the house.

There has to be a better way. Online shopping I go, and lo and behold I come across a crazy good sale on a navy, two piece slipcover that looks like it just. might. work. And it'll even have a nice cottage look with our big, yellow, linen weave throw pillows.


It comes, I wrestle with it on the ironing board, have a moment where I want to curse the universe when I think the seat cushions won't fit in the cover sleeve -- but they do. Quite nicely.

On goes the cover -- not perfect, as the overstuffed back takes more that the slipcover has, so it's hiked up in the back like a woman coming out of the bathroom with her skirt caught in her underwear. But the couch is against the wall, so -- I'll live with it.

Yellow pillows fluffed, quilt safely along the back...

The next day -- light grey and white cat fur shows really nicely on navy cotton duck. So does the little bit of powder from the litter box. And dust bunnies. And after-shower powder puffing from teen socks.

Yeah. I think it's a conspiracy. But we are not buying a new couch. I'll just have to teach the cats how to use those sticky lint rollers -- thumbs or no thumbs, I don't care.

It's their fur, and it's on MY couch (although they'd probably tell it differently).

At least they don't do this:

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