No couch left unattended will be able to withstand the determination of a ferret once he sets his eyes on it, so one of the first things you’ll have to do is give it some protective armor. With just a few simple strategies, your couch can be equipped with a formidable barrier that could quickly discourage your ferret and send them off in search of an easier place to dig.
Why Ferrets Prefer the Sofa
To help you ferret proof your couch, you first need to understand why and how ferrets attack your furniture. These little critters do not understand the concept of furniture like humans but are simply looking for a cool place to hide the little treasures they find when exploring your house, a dark place to take a nap, or just some place easy to dig.
Sadly though, aside from destroying an expensive couch, the inside of a sofa is not a safe place, and all too often, they end up being crushed, stabbed with inner wires or coils, or their limbs broken when someone sits down, unaware of their presence just underneath the cushions.
Most often, they will dig into your couch from underneath as they claw their way into its darkest regions where they can stash all sorts of goodies. Wondering what happened to your shiny watch? Where did my keys go? Who stole the cookie in the cookie jar? The answer is, if there’s a ferret in your house, check the couch.
There are two ways to deal with a ferret attack on your sofa: solutions or management. You can apply several solutions to discourage them from even attempting to tear into it, or you can manage the ferrets by drawing their interest away to more interesting and safer places to dig.
Cover the bottom: Turn the sofa over so that the underside is exposed. You’ll see where there is usually nothing but a thin sheet of mesh fabric stapled to the bottom. A ferret can rip through that fabric in about a half a second flat.
To prevent that from happening, you can cover it with a sheet of plywood, tempered hardwood, chicken wire, or linoleum. You will have to cut it to match the size of the bottom, and then nail it into place.
Since ferrets don’t usually chew through wood, this will immediately stop them from burrowing into your sofa from underneath.
Remove the legs: Take the legs off completely cutting off any access to the bottom side. This is not usually a preferred choice because it can make the couch sit very low. However, if you can be comfortable sitting a few inches lower than usual, then it is the one fool-proof solution to ferrets from burrowing their way into the danger zone.
Box in the bottom: If a low couch presents a problem, you can build a box cover for the lower part of your sofa to prevent access. With a sheet of plywood or a few sheets of fiber board, something thin enough to cut with a hacksaw, and a few dozen zip ties, you can easily create a wooden bedskirt for your couch that can be painted over to match the color of your sofa and keep your ferret out at the same time.
Protect the top: When access to the bottom is cut off, a determined ferret will just scramble up the side of the sofa and then try to dig their way in from the top. They will crawl underneath the cushions and burrow into one of the corners, most likely leaving shreds of fabric and stuffing behind.
One of the best solutions for this is to remove the cushions and place a sheet of linoleum or chicken wire underneath to keep them from digging down. Any openings on the sides can be stuffed with thick foam rubber to fill in the cracks. These can be cut into strips to fit into the gaps where you want to restrict access.
Vinyl also works very well to cover openings that a ferret will want to crawl into. In most cases, these usually make for a pretty good deterrent.
Protect the cushions: Ferrets will quickly claw at and chew through anything soft, so most materials don’t stand much of a chance. Your pretty fabric cushions need a little extra help to keep from being destroyed.
Remove the covers from the cushions and line them on the inside with vinyl. You can secure them in place with Velcro so they can be removed when you need to wash them. Your ferrets will attempt to claw through them, but as soon as their claws meet with resistance, they will learn that this is not digging, clawing, or burrowing material and most will leave it alone.
You can find vinyl in colors that closely match your couch so you won’t have any problems with aesthetics.
If your ferret is more determined, in time, he will work his way past the rubber stuffing and even chew through the chicken wire, so you will have to replace it from time to time, but this is a much more affordable option than having to replace your entire sofa.
Sleeper Sofas: These solutions have been very effective for owners of regular sofas, but if you have a sleeper sofa, this can create even bigger problems. Because of the foldable mattress, you won’t be able to place a hard, wooden surface underneath the sofa to prevent the little guys from tearing their way in, but if you leave it exposed, they will quickly turn the underside to shreds.
An easy solution is to purchase a thick tent fabric or canvas and cover the underside with it. Tent canvas material is extremely thick and durable, made to withstand the harsh environmental conditions that it may be exposed to and can easily create a tough barrier against a ferret’s claws. Cut the fabric to size and either staple it or nail it in place and your ferret will move on to easier targets.
The above solutions work well in most cases, but some owners have reported that their pets are very determined and won’t give up no matter what they do. In such cases, it may be best to take a management approach and find ways to restrict their access to your couch from the very beginning.
If possible, you can restrict access to the room entirely, or at the very least, setup a playpen for your ferret in the room to keep them somewhat confined. This removes all chances of the ferret getting anywhere near the couch and doing any damage.
However, if you have one of those open floorplans in your home, blocking the room off can be virtually impossible. In that case, you have to draw their attention away by giving them something more interesting to dig into.
Ferrets are natural diggers and no matter what you do, you can’t train it out of them. They will always want to dig just like you will always want to eat. There’s no way around it. A ferret that doesn’t have the ability to claw through things will become depressed and agitated, which could lead to even more damage in your home.
Your couch only serves as a tempting target because there is nothing else that proves more interesting. Have a dig box close by. Fill it with sand, rice or some other dig-able material and introduce it to your ferret. Make sure it is large enough to keep them interested for a longer period of time.
A shoe-box is too small, and they will probably explore it for a few minutes and then move on to other things, but a nice sized tub full of their favorite toys and interesting objects to discover could keep your ferret fully engaged for quite a while.
The bottom line is simple: clawing and digging are things that ferrets do. Soft and dark are the places ferrets love. You’re not going to scold, train, or trick them out of these things. However, if you put up the right kinds of barriers to discourage them from digging into your couch and give them a safer environment where they can do all the things they were born to do, both you and your ferret will live happily ever after.