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Do Cats Scratch Leather? – Why They Might and How to Stop It

Leather furniture is an investment that can last for a long time unless there are scratching cats around. Cats like to scratch leather and other household items but don’t fret – I will cover why cats like to scratch leather and how to prevent further scratching and repair leather furniture.

Cats scratch leather out of instinct, boredom, and claw health, among other reasons. Methods to avoid damage to leather include spraying the cat with water or using furniture guards, scratching posts, and more. Cat scratches can ruin leather furniture, but repairing leather is possible.

If there’s leather furniture in a home with cats, choosing one or the other is unnecessary. Leather furniture and cats can peacefully and safely coexist.

Do Cats Scratch Leather?

As the owner of four cats, I can tell you that cats scratch leather. In fact, scratching is a cat’s instinct, and some will sink their claws into just about anything they come into contact with. Leather couches, chairs, and other furniture are popular leather items for cats to scratch.

What We’ll Explore

  • Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
  • Why Do Cats Scratch Leather
  • Why Cats Scratch Leather Furniture
  • Do Cats Scratch Leather Furniture More Than Wood Furniture?
  • Do Cat Scratches Ruin Leather Furniture?
  • How to Stop Cats From Scratching Leather
  • How to Repair Cat Scratched on Leather Furniture Step-by-Step
  • My Personal Research on Cats Scratching Leather
  • Helpful Insights About Cats Scratching Leather
  • Key Takeaways
A Cat Scratching a White Leather Couch - Do Cat's Scratch Leather - Liberty Leather Goods
A Cat Scratching a White Leather Couch

Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions

Several myths about cats’ behavior exist, including scratching leather. One myth is that when cats are spayed or neutered, their instinct to scratch will diminish or disappear. This is not exactly true, but one will often see that most cats will calm down after the procedure.

Another misconception about cats scratching leather is that if there are cat scratchers nearby, they will choose to scratch those rather than leather. Again, this is not necessarily true, although cat scratchers can serve as good distractors from leather furniture.

Why Do Cats Scratch Leather

From instinct to shedding their outer claws, many reasons cats scratch leather exist. When cats are around others, they can become excited and playful, and their reaction or release is to scratch. Scratching also maintains the health of their claws by sharpening and shedding their outer claws.

Why Cats Scratch Leather Furniture

InstinctCats are genetically programmed to scratch.
BoredomCats enjoy entertaining themselves by scratching random objects, like leather furniture.
ExcitementCats use scratching as a release for excitement and playfulness.
Sharpen clawsClaws need periodic sharpening for health and protection.
Shed outer clawsCats’ claws grow and are shed every 6–12 weeks, just like fingernails.
Marking territoryCats are highly territorial, and sweat glands in the paws leave a scent behind.
StretchingCats often stretch after sleeping, and scratching helps stretch the torso, back, and front legs.
Why Cats Scratch Leather

Do Cats Scratch Leather Furniture More Than Wood Furniture?

According to published research by graduate student Alexandra Moesta of the University of Georgia, cats don’t tend to have a preference in terms of material but rather the positioning of furniture or other items that are vertical or horizontal, as well as previously scratched items. 

Cats enjoy scratching leather furniture due to instinct, boredom, and claw health.

How to Stop Cats From Scratching Leather Furniture

Cats are very different from each other, so methods for stopping cats from scratching leather furniture are not a one-size-fits-all remedy. Thankfully, multiple ways of preventing this behavior exist! Let’s review a few options.

Spraying With Water

Spraying a cat with water can be a helpful deterrent to some negative behaviors, including scratching leather furniture, if it is done the moment the cat is scratching. If the cat is sprayed with water when it begins to scratch or while it is scratching, it is more likely to be associated with the scratching.

This is especially true if there is repeated behavior, and with time the negative feeling of being sprayed can override the joy the cat experiences from scratching the leather. Just pour water into a spray bottle and keep it handy to catch the cat in the act of scratching.

Spraying Leather Furniture With Apple Cider Vinegar

Although spraying leather furniture with apple cider vinegar is often recommended as a deterrent to cats scratching leather, it should generally be avoided to prevent damaging the leather. Apple cider vinegar has a lower pH value than is recommended for use on leather and can cause rotting if it’s used too often or if too much of the liquid is absorbed.

Keep Cat’s Claws Trimmed

It’s not the easiest solution in many cases, but trimming a cat’s claws can help minimize damage to leather with scratching. Dog nail clippers or even fingernail clippers can be used carefully to snip the sharp tips off the cat’s claws. If the cat won’t sit still for this, try wrapping it in a towel (I like to call it a purrito) and take out one paw at a time to trim the claws.

Trimming a Cats Nails - Do Cat's Scratch Leather - Liberty Leather Goods
Trimming a Cats Nails

Using a Furniture Guard (or rough surface)

There are several options for furniture guards to protect leather from cat scratches. These are generally made of plastic or sisal rope like cat scratchers and fit over furniture so the cat can still scratch but not cause damage. Furniture guards range in price from $11.99 for four couch guards to $67.99 for a scratching post that fits over the leg of a couch.           

Cover Furniture

Another method for preventing cats from scratching leather is with furniture covers like blankets or pet covers. These simply drape over the couch to protect the leather from scratches, punctures, and moisture from cats and other pets. Multiple sizes, colors, and patterns are available, ranging in price from $9.99 for a small sherpa to $204 for an extra-extra large plush faux fur blanket.

Give the Cat an Alternative

Giving the cat alternatives to leather furniture is a great way to entertain a cat and prevent scratches on leather furniture. These alternatives include scratching posts, cat towers, toys, bells, and just about anything that will grab their attention and keep them busy. Consider placing cat scratchers and other alternatives next to the leather furniture being scratched to distract them.

Fake Nails for Cats

In some cases, one can try every trick in the book to attempt and prevent cats from scratching leather. In this case, little plastic nail sheaths can be glued over the cat’s existing claws to make them dull and are simply shed off over time as the claws grow naturally. It’s a wonderful alternative to declawing and can even be fashionable for paws.

Check out this helpful video of the Clueless Homemaker as she demonstrates how to apply fake nails to her kitten’s front claws.

Do Cat Scratches Ruin Leather Furniture?

Cat claws and leather furniture do not get along very well, and that’s putting it mildly. Cats don’t always claw leather furniture, and leather furniture doesn’t always show damage from cats. The damage that does occur can range from a couple of punctures to all-out tears.

The smaller the damage, the easier it is to repair, even by a non-expert. That’s why it’s best to deter cats from scratching leather and stop it before extensive damage occurs.

How to Repair Cat Scratches on Leather Furniture Step-by-Step

If cat scratches have occurred on a leather couch, they can be repaired with a leather repair kit. Here’s how to repair cat scratches on leather furniture step-by-step:

1.   Prep the scratched area by wiping it with alcohol cleaner on a microfiber towel.

2.   Use a spatula to scrape the scratched area from top to bottom and open the scratches.

3.   Apply leather glue to a spatula and smear it into the scratches.

4.   Wipe off any excess glue with a microfiber towel.

5.   Use the leather spatula to push the scratches back into position, scraping from bottom to top this time.

6.   Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

7.   Use 320 grit sandpaper to sand the glued scratches lightly.

8.   Apply filler to any visible scratch holes.

9.   Apply color match to the repaired leather with a sponge or microfiber towel.

10. Allow the leather to dry completely.

My Personal Research into Cats Scratching Leather

Cats have lots of energy (probably because they sleep 18 hours per day!) and instinct. Many alternatives to cats scratching leather exist, but there are a few recommendations for finding the best options.

Cat Scratching AlternativePrice# of CatsFeatures
Multi-level cat condo and activity center$40–$140Multiple catsWindow, hammocks, roost, hanging ball, three sisal rope legs
Cat tower and activity center $40–$841–2 catsCondo, roost, two sisal rope legs
Tall scratching post $20–$70Multiple catsJute-covered scratching post, hanging ball
The Cost and Features of Cat-Scratching Alternatives

Helpful Insights about Cats Scratching Leather

Do cats scratch faux leather?

Yes, cats will sometimes scratch faux leather, although occasionally, they prefer other materials like wood, cotton, and genuine leather.

Do cats scratch leather couches?

Yes, cats scratch leather couches, among many other leather items, due to instinct, boredom, and nail health.

Do cats scratch leather or fabric more?

Some cats prefer leather, while others prefer fabrics. Some cats even prefer wood as long as it’s in their desired position.

How do I stop my cat from scratching leather?

Cats can be stopped from scratching leather by distracting them with scratching posts or furniture covers, deterring them with sprays of water, or by covering the leather with blankets or furniture covers. Fake nails for cats can even be used to stop cats from scratching leather.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cats enjoy scratching leather furniture due to instinct, boredom, and claw health.
  2. Cats can be distracted from scratching leather with cat scratchers, furniture covers, and furniture guards.
  3. Cat scratches on the leather can generally be easily repaired if the damage is not too severe.

In Closing

Leather furniture is great in any home, and cats are great companions. They can coexist, even if it takes a little work upfront to prevent scratched leather furniture. There are several tools and methods to prevent cat scratches, and thankfully there are also many tools and kits for repairing leather. So you can love both your leather couch and your cat!

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