When I was purchasing a couch for my first apartment, there was a lot of back and forth regarding what would be best when I took my cats into consideration. While I wasn’t concerned for their comfort (as they love to lie anywhere), I was concerned regarding what would work best for us as a family. If I got something leather, would my cat scratch and destroy it? If I got fabric, would they do the same thing since it’s like some of their scratching posts? My comfort was important for picking out furniture, yes. But a large consideration was whether my cats would tear it up right after I bought it.
Why does my cat like scratching leather?
Your cat likes to scratch your leather, which isn’t the most pleasant experience for an owner. We bought the couch to use, not for them as a scratching post.
Your cat may scratch your leather because:
- Marking Territory: Your cat marks their territory to signal ownership and to advertise to other cats “this is mine!”. Your cat may scratch the leather couch to spread their scent to it and mark it as theirs to other animals or pets. Cats in multi-cat households are more prone to do this to stake out their territory, especially if a new cat was recently introduced or they don’t get along.
- Sharpen claws: Your cat may use the leather couch to sharpen their claws. A cat’s claws are their first line of defence. If your cat doesn’t have enough areas to sharpen their claws, they may start taking out the feeling on your carpet or your leather couch.
- Curiosity: Almost everyone has heard the phrase, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” This phrase is a truthful statement about a main cat characteristic: they are naturally curious. If a leather couch is a newer furniture piece in the home, your cat may test their claws out on it just to see how it feels.
- Excess Energy: Your cat may have too much energy and is taking it out on the couch. If your cat is understimulated or bored, they may begin looking for things outside of their normal routine to explore. With no outlets for their energy, cats can become destructive.
How do I keep my leather couch from being used as a scratching post?
Just because your cat is using your leather couch as a scratching post doesn’t mean you have to let it continue. There are ways we can reduce the damage.
Trim claws or use claw caps
Your cat’s claws are an important part of their anatomy. We may be tempted to figure out how to remove the claws if your cat is using them to destroy. Many years ago, it was considered the standard of care to declaw cats as it eliminated cats destroying items. Now, we know it’s considered inhumane to remove your cat’s claws unless for a valid medical reason. Declawing your cat actually increases their chances for illness and destructive behavior.
The best way to limit their destructive power is to trim the claws every so often. Cats should be trimmed every 4 – 6 weeks. However, I cut my cat’s claws when the kneading hurts my skin. However often you decide to cut your cat’s claws, you will need to use the proper technique.
- Squeeze the paw to push the claw out of the sheath.
- Place the clippers between the tip of the claw and quick.
While those are the basic steps, if you’re concerned regarding the best way to cut your cat’s claws, you could contact your veterinarian for advice or a demonstration.
If you don’t think trimming your cat’s claws is enough, there is another method that can limit the scratching power of the claws while keeping them intact. Claw caps are plastic covers glued over their claws. Generally, you can apply them at home, and they last between four to six weeks. Claw caps come in a variety of colors.
While this sounds strange, don’t fear. It doesn’t hurt the cat, though it could annoy them until they get used to them. Additionally, it doesn’t prevent your cat from retracting the nail, but it may affect their climbing ability.
Claw cats shouldn’t be used for outdoor cats, owners who can’t adhere to the schedule for maintenance or removal, and cats that try to bite or pick off the nail caps after a few different tries.
Provide more scratching posts
As mentioned above, your cat may scratch your leather couch because they don’t have enough areas to scratch elsewhere in the home. In multi-cat households, you should have at least one scratching post per cat plus another one. This prevents those territory disputes we were also speaking about earlier. Additionally, these scratching posts should be positioned in different places in the home.
If you have many scratching posts in your home, consider their age. A typical lifespan for a scratching post can be between 6 months to 2 years. If your cat is uninterested in its scratching posts, it could be good to replace them.
If the scratching posts aren’t old or unusable, your cat may not enjoy the material. The most popular are cardboard, carpet, sisal rope, and wood. Cardboard and carpet are less expensive, but your cat’s preferences should come into play here. If your scratching posts are one primary material, see whether your cat would prefer another type of place to scratch. If you have cardboard, maybe switch to wood or sisal rope.
You could even make your own scratching post using a wooden beam and sisal rope.
Additionally, you can encourage your cat to explore their existing scratching posts by spraying or adding catnip to them.
Despite the unrelenting search for a couch my cats wouldn’t scratch, it didn’t matter. Mine decided it belonged to them as soon as it was delivered.
Ant scratch sprays are a useful item if you want to discourage your cat from scratching the leather couch. While every spray works differently, many use pheromones to calm the cats and reduce destructive behaviors. Others work by creating an unpleasant smell, so your cat doesn’t want to be in the area.
If you don’t want to spray your couch, you could use vinegar to repel them. You could dilute white vinegar using one or two parts of water to use it as a deterrent. Ensure you spot-test the vinegar on the fabric before you avidly apply it, and you don’t want it to stain or bleach the couch. You should spray or soak the area thoroughly about once a week.
Cloth or guard covers
Most people buy leather couches for the look or comfort. While it may not be the most pleasant solution, if your cat refuses to stop scratching the couch, you could use a cover. My family has found this solution to be the most effective in preventing damage to our couch. While the cats still “scratch” the couch, it doesn’t affect the actual furniture, but just the cover.
You can buy slipcovers in your local stores and on the Internet. Ensure you choose the correct size and fabric for your couch, but it’s fun! It can change the feel of a room without committing to new furniture.
If you’re not convinced about a slipcover, you have the option of applying a transparent guard to the areas your cat likes to scratch the most. These guards will provide an area for your cat to direct their energy, hopefully eliminating the scratching in unwanted areas.
Unfortunately, there’s only so many ways to keep your cat from scratching on the leather couch. Along with curiosity, stubbornness is a key component of a cat’s personality. If nothing else has worked, you always have the option of limiting access to the leather couch.
The best method here will depend on where your couch is. If it’s in the living room, it may be hard to impossible to limit access to it without limiting access to the entire room. The easiest method is to simply shut the door of where the leather couch is.
What should I do if there is damage?
Over the weekend, you bought a brand-new leather couch with no issue. There are deep scratches on the sides and the cushions when you come home on Monday.
You have a few options here:
- Small Repair: If you have a slight scratch or tear in the leather, you can apply olive or baby oil to help repair it. You will apply it using a cotton ball, and then allow to dry for an hour. If it still looks messed up, you can repeat as necessary.
- Large Repair: For tears less than 6 or 7 inches, you could use a leather repair kit. You will cut a slightly larger than the tear piece of patching fabric. You will glue the patch to the underside of the tear. Trim loose strips. Slide the patch underneath the fabric. Apply leather glue using a palette knife. Apply pressure and complete the other side.
- Professional: For a larger cut or tear, you may be better off going to a professional repair person who does this every day. They will evaluate the hole and come up with a game plan.
What shouldn’t you do?
Your cat’s claws are a weapon that can create significant damage. While coming home to a tear on the leather couch isn’t fun, there are a few things we shouldn’t do.
Don’t frighten or scare your cat. You shouldn’t clap your hands at them to make them run away. While it may be effective, it will mess up your relationship with your cat in the long run. Instead, reward for positive behavior. Give them treats or pets for scratching on the posts or other allowed areas. Additionally, don’t spray them with water.