Imagine this… You have just brought yourself a beautiful new leather couch that you had to save up for a while to be able to afford.
You come down one morning with a cup of coffee, smiling to yourself and ready to sink into your new chair. That’s when you see scratch marks down the side of your brand-new couch.
Does this story sound all too familiar? Cats, as wonderful as they are, love to dig their claws into our furniture, and leather is one of their favorite materials to claw at. As an owner, you must know how to stop this behavior, so your cats and furniture can reside together peacefully!
Thankfully, you can deter cats from scratching leather furniture in several ways. You can use deterrents, provide alternative scratching options, use furniture protectors, and try many other methods.
This article lists eight ways to stop your cat from scratching your leather couch. I also help you determine why your cat is acting this way, helping you find the best possible solution. You can use one of these methods or a combination of several until you find a way that works for you.
How to Stop Cats from Scratching a Leather Couch
1. Provide Alternative Scratching Options
The first thing to do is purchase a scratching post or a cat tree with an area for your cat to claw. If there is an alternative scratching option for your cat to scratch at, they will likely prefer it to your leather couch.
For a scratching post to be effective, it needs to be the right texture. Sisal scratch posts are a great option as this material is durable and mimics tree trunks, which would be where a cat would scratch in the wild. You can also get cheaper cardboard scratching or more expensive wooden posts.
If you notice that your cat always goes for your leather couch over your wooden bookcase, it may be that they prefer scratching leather. You could search for a leather cat scratching post if this is the case. Alternatively, invest in a small piece of leather and attach this to their scratching post to encourage them to use it.
You will also need to choose a scratching post that is the correct size for your cat. Kittens only need a small post, whereas fully grown cats and bigger breeds will need larger and more stable ones. The scratching post should be tall enough for your cat to stretch fully when using it.
2. Use Furniture Protectors
You can try your best to stop cats from scratching leather, but sometimes protection is a better option! If you want to know how to protect a leather couch from cats, there are several options available:
- Plastic Couch Covers: These transparent covers cover your entire couch, protecting it from cat scratches, vomit, and toilet accidents. You can purchase extra-thick couch protectors specifically designed to withstand clawing.
- Fabric Slip Covers: These waterproof covers cover the seating area, front, and back of your couch, much like a regular couch blanket. They are great at protecting against claw marks and accidents and can make an old sofa look homely and inviting again.
- Adhesive Furniture Protectors: If your cat only scratches the sides of your couch, your best option might be an adhesive scratch guard, which can be stuck to wherever your cat scratches. You can get these in a range of sizes.
To be effective, you must choose a suitable leather couch protector for your cat. If they always claw at the back of the sofa, a protector that fits over the seats will not be effective, and vice versa; matching the cat scratch guard with where your cat scratches is key to its success.
If you are against using a cat scratch guard for leather couches, you could try draping a blanket over your sofa. Even this could get in the way of your cat and deter them from using your furniture as their scratching post.
3. Use Scent as a Deterrent
A cat’s sense of smell is 15 times stronger than humans! Therefore, many scents are overpowering for cats. Some of the smells that cats hate include citrus, lavender, cinnamon, mint, and rosemary. Cats also dislike spicy aromas such as chili, pepper, and mustard.
As cats hate these smells, you can use them as deterrents to stop cats from scratching furniture. Many cat repellant sprays are available on the market and work to repel cats using one of these scents. However, leather can easily be damaged, so you must use a repellent explicitly made for leather furniture.
If you are worried about using chemical products, you can make DIY cat deterrent sprays. My favorite is a homemade rosemary spray. Fill a spray bottle three-quarters of the way with water and add a few drops of washing-up liquid and ten drops of rosemary essential oil. Put the lid on and shake, then spray on your leather couch.
4. Clean Your Couch
Each time a cat scratches, they deposit pheromones on its surface. These pheromones mark your couch as their territory. As a cat’s sense of smell is so powerful, they may also return to scratch the same spot on your couch as they can smell themselves on the furniture. They will then assume that this sofa is theirs to scratch!
If this is the reason for your cat’s scratching, you need to remove their scent by cleaning your couch daily. This may seem like hard work but staying on top of cleaning is essential. Otherwise, your cat’s scent could make it deep into the leather, making it hard to break their bad habit.
Any leather cleaner can be used to remove your cat’s scent from your couch. If you can, try using a citrus-scented cleaning product, as this will hit two birds with one stone; it removes their cat odor while adding a repellent citrus scent.
If your cat’s scent is already embedded deeply into your leather couch, try using baking soda. Baking soda is known for its ability to capture and absorb odors. Simply rub baking soda over your couch and leave it there for 1-2 hours. After the time is up, wipe it off and vacuum up any loose powder from the floor.
5. Create a Vinegar Deterrent
Vinegar is another cat repellent you can use to stop your cat from scratching your leather furniture. White vinegar works best, but you should always dilute this with one part vinegar to two parts water. This ensures that the odor is not too overwhelming and that no damage is done to your leather couch.
Before spraying vinegar all over your leather couch, always test a small patch to check that it will not bleach or stain. If it does not cause damage, you can spray white vinegar on your couch weekly.
If you notice that the vinegar does damage your furniture, try soaking cotton wool or a sponge in the white vinegar. Place this in a container and slide it under the side of your couch. The vinegar should still deter your cat while not touching your couch, removing the risk of damage.
6. Use Special Cat Scratch Tape
I like to use special deterrent tape to stop my cat from scratching my leather couch. Cat scratch tape is a double-sided tape. One side sticks to the furniture, and the other will be where your cat’s paws land if they try to scratch your couch, giving them sticky paws.
For obvious reasons, cats prefer not to have sticky paws. They may still attempt to scratch your furniture, but once they realize their feet are getting sticky, they will likely walk away and find a new spot to scratch.
Although unpleasant, this is not dangerous or harmful for cats and is a safe way to deter cats from scratching. However, always use special anti-scratch tape for cats. Otherwise, it could be too sticky and cause damage both to their paws and your furniture.
You will need to replace the tape regularly as fluff and dirt will get stuck to its surface, removing its stickiness and cat-repelling power. Also, if you notice the tape coming loose, remove it immediately and replace it with a fresh piece. Your cat could pull the loose tape off, which could be a choking hazard.
7. Provide Other Stimulation & Attention
Cats often misbehave as they are bored and need mental and physical stimulation. They could also be clawing your furniture to seek attention, knowing that you’ll come over to stop them if you notice them scratching your couch.
You can provide stimulation in various ways but ensuring your cat has lots of toys and playing together regularly can help keep it entertained. Many cat toys are available on the market, so try a few different options to see what your cat likes best. Motorized and motion-sensor toys are great for cats who are home alone as they can play with them themselves.
If you don’t have money to buy new toys, make some using everyday household items. Cardboard boxes are great for cats; they love hiding inside them. Ping-pong balls are also a great and inexpensive option, or you could tie some thick string to a stick to drag around the floor.
8. Trim Their Claws
You can also trim your cat’s claws to keep them from scratching your leather furniture or anywhere else around your home. Cats don’t like to have too long nails; they often scratch objects as they are trying to file their claws down and keep them trim.
By trimming your cat’s claws from them, you are removing the need for them to scratch your furniture. And if they still scratch your couch, their short and filed nails are unlikely to cause any significant damage. If you want to trim your cat’s claws, follow the below steps:
- Set the mood by sitting comfortably in a quiet room with your cat on your lap, with no toys, distractions, or other pets. Your cat will be most sleepy and relaxed after a meal, so this is the ideal time.
- Start gently massaging your cat’s paws for up to three seconds. If they retract, keep trying slowly until they are comfortable with you touching their paws.
- Gently push on their paw pads to make the claws extend outwards, then let go straight away. Each time, give your cat a treat afterward so that they associate this with good behavior. Repeat slowly and calmly for all their toes.
- Get your cat used to the sound of the clippers by cutting a piece of spaghetti each time you press on their toe pad, followed by a treat. This will help them link the sound to the motion, so they won’t be frightened when you trim their claws.
- Once your cat is content and happy, you can trim its claws by gently pushing down on its pads and cutting the end of its claws. Only ever cut the white part at the end, as cutting the pink part is painful. If you’re unsure, it is better to err on the side of caution than risk hurting your cat.
- Start by trimming two of your cat’s claws at first. Then, try cutting two more the next day and so forth until all their claws have been trimmed. As they get more accustomed to the motion, they will happily sit and let you trim all their nails at once.
You may wonder if you can permanently remove your cat’s claws as a quick fix for unwanted scratching. This is called declawing, but this is not a good idea. It is detrimental to cats’ physical health and can lead to severe pain in their paws, tissue damage, back pain, and infection.
Cats that have been declawed can also have many behavioral issues. They can become more likely to bite as they do not have their claws for protection and are less likely to use their litter box due to the issues with the nerves in their paws. No matter how much you wish your cat would stop scratching your leather furniture, never get them declawed.
Why Do Cats Scratch Leather Furniture?
You now know how to stop cats from scratching leather couches, but to choose an effective and appropriate method from the ones listed above, you also need to understand why cats scratch. This way, you can be sure to select a method or methods that work!
The critical thing to remember is that scratching is a natural behavior for cats. You should never expect your cat to stop scratching altogether, as it is instinctive. Here are all the reasons that your cat could be scratching.
1. To Mark Their Territory
When a cat scratches any surface, sweat travels from its paws down its claws and into the surface they are scratching. This sweat contains pheromones that cats’ sensitive noses can smell. By scratching, cats mark their territory so other cats know to stay out of this area.
While this is a common reason cats scratch in the wild, it is less common for domesticated cats. However, if you live in a multi-cat household, your cat may be scratching your couch to tell your other cats to stay away. Even if you have one cat, it could lack personal space and be scratching to mark its territory to create an area for itself.
2. To Sharpen and Trim Their Claws
In the wild, cats need to have sharp claws. They rely on these claws being sharp to catch their prey, as well as to protect themselves from predators further up the food chain. Sharp claws are vital to a cat’s survival, increasing its opportunity to catch food and fight off predators.
Although domesticated cats do not need to hunt for food or protect themselves from predators, this survival instinct persists. This could be the reason why your cat is scratching your couch.
In addition to this, claws that are too long can cause cats pain. They can be challenging to retract when they get too long, and they can curl back into the pads of their paws, making walking uncomfortable and difficult. Because of this, cats will also scratch to keep their claws short enough to remain comfortable.
3. They Are Curious
You may already have heard the saying, “curiosity killed the cat.” While this is only a metaphor, there is some truth: cats are curious. They are naturally inquisitive creatures and love discovering everything they can about their world.
Leather furniture or a new couch is more likely clawed at because it is new and exciting to your cat. Whereas your cat may be used to clawing at their scratching post or the trees outside, leather is a much more interesting fabric that your cat may not have come across before.
If this is why your cat is scratching the furniture, look at providing constant new stimuli to keep your cat entertained and to turn their attention away from your couch. Toys and cat trees are a great way to stop a curious cat from scratching your furniture.
4. They Feel Vulnerable
Cats can scratch because they feel vulnerable. It is usually easy to tell if this is why your cat is clawing at your furniture, as the claw marks will be close to doorways or open spaces where your cat feels most on edge.
On top of this, your cat may show other signs of stress. Stress can manifest as physical symptoms such as eating less, losing their fur, or sleeping more often. There can also be other behavioral symptoms, including not using their litter tray or acting aggressively.
A huge range of things can cause your cat to feel vulnerable as they are sensitive creatures. This can be anything from a new pet or person in your home not having a litter tray they like to use. Moving house can also trigger anxiety in felines, as can competition for resources in a multi-cat household or simply a change in routine.
If your cat’s scratching behavior is new or overly aggressive, try to think of anything you may have changed. You can try reversing it if possible to make your cat feel more at ease.
You can also make your cat feel more at ease by offering them plenty of places to hide. These places provide them with safety and a place to turn if they feel overwhelmed. You do not have to spend money on new pet caddies – even an old cardboard box will work a treat. Cat flaps are also a good idea as your cat can enter and leave the house as they wish, helping them to feel secure.
It is important to remember that scratching is a natural behavior for cats. It is essential for their survival and safety in the wild, and domesticated cats still carry these instincts. Cats that are extremely curious or vulnerable can also scratch more than other felines.
Because scratching is instinctive, we will never eliminate this behavior entirely. However, by providing an alternative place for your cat to scratch and encouraging them to use this instead of your leather couch, we can save our furniture! It is impossible to stop cats from scratching, but it is possible to prevent cats from scratching furniture!
Try these different solutions, and you’ll have a happier and healthier cat and leather furniture that isn’t ruined by your little furball. Win-win!