Expecting a cat not to scratch is like expecting an infant not to cry. It’s just not gonna happen.
For this reason, experts often recommend that you place cat scratchers throughout your home if you want to protect your walls, furniture, curtains, or any other scratchable surface in the house from being shredded by your feline friend.
In fact, it is generally recommended that you have multiple scratching areas in the house for your cats to utilize whenever the need strikes them.
If you do not have adequate scratching areas, your cat will take out its needs on whatever surface is available, and in some cases, this is going to end up being your expensive leather furniture.
Preventing your cats from scratching your leather furniture can be a long series of trial and error, especially considering the fact that your cat cannot physically tell you what it needs in its scratchers to help it not see the leather sofa as the best surface to scratch.
Teaching your cat not to scratch the leather sofa consists of three practices:
- Provide alternatives for your cat to scratch their claws on.
- Make your leather furniture scratch-proof.
- Train your cat not to scratch leather furniture.
With these methods combined, you can drastically reduce how often your cat scratches at your leather furniture, protecting it in the long run.
The Basics of Safeguarding Your Leather Furniture From Cat Scratches
First things first, you are going to want to have at least one scratching post in the house for your cat. Ideally, you should have one scratching post per cat in the house. Check out our guide to the best cat scratching posts here for some guidance.
You should also invest in a deterrent for the leather furniture to prevent the cat from wanting to scratch it. This will often be in the form of a citrus scented spray, as cats do not appreciate the smell of citrus.
These are going to be the basic tools to use as you train your cats not to use your leather furniture for scratching.
From here, you will want to focus on all of the three areas for keeping your cat from damaging the leather. This includes alternatives, prevention, and protection.
Providing Alternatives for Your Cat to Scratch
You might be surprised to learn that cats actually have a wide variety of scratching posts to choose from. This is because different cats prefer different methods and surfaces for scratching.
Some cats prefer cardboard to the twine often used for cat posts. Other cats prefer horizontal over the lateral scratching areas.
If your cat is not making use of the scratching post you bought, it may be because it isn’t the right type of scratching post for your cat’s desires.
This is where a lot of the “trial and error” aspect of finding alternatives for your cat to scratch on comes in. Your cat cannot physically tell you what it wants in a scratching post, so it is up to you to do what you can to provide one.
There are a few ways that you can make this easier for yourself.
- For one, the next time your cat scratches a surface, pause for a moment and consider how it is scratching. If the cat is scratching the horizontal surface of a cushion or a rug, this may mean that it would prefer a horizontal scratching platform instead of the standard tall posts. If your cat routinely searches out cardboard surfaces over fabric surfaces, this means that it prefers that type of material on its paws when scratching. Being observant can help you provide the best options for your cats to scratch on.
- Another thing to note is that cats will sometimes scratch not out of a need to remove the dull outer portion of their claws, but instead to mark their territory. This is more common in multi-pet households or when a new person has entered the house. If your cat is scratching things in your house due to a territorial dispute, then you need to provide other scratching options near the leather furniture. While you might be wary about encouraging the cat to scratch close to the furniture, with proper preventative measures, you can let your cat mark its territory in its ideal spot while still protecting your furniture.
- Finally, you will want to make sure that your cats are fully entertained and not stressed. Stress and boredom can cause a well-behaved cat to turn to more destructive ways of releasing its energy. Think of it as being similar to a toddler throwing a tantrum because it isn’t getting enough attention. You will want to make sure that your cat gets enough time to play that it won’t scratch out of pure boredom. If there is a source of stress in your cat’s life, you will need to alleviate it.
Providing Protection for Your Leather Furniture
Many times, cats will scratch because it feels good on their claws. Not only do they get to remove the dull outer shell of their claws, but it can feel almost as if they are getting a massage.
For some cats, the leather surfaces of your furniture provide the right feeling and the right tension for your cat to scratch on. If you remove this aspect of the leather furniture, then your cat will have no reason to scratch on it anymore, especially when there are alternatives in the house.
For example, if your cat prefers to scratch on the leather cushions of the couch, you may want to consider covering those cushions with a blanket or a pillow that you don’t mind getting scratched as much. Without the comfortable feeling that leather provides to scratch on, your cat will not have as much incentive to scratch on your furniture.
A similar but more unsightly solution to consider is taping over the area where your cats enjoy scratching. (If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.) Tape does not feel good on a cat’s paws, ultimately dissuading it from scratching in that area, although now you will have to deal with your furniture being taped up.
Another form of protection that you can provide for your leather furniture is to make use of scents that cats don’t appreciate. If your cat doesn’t want to go near the leather furniture, then it won’t end up being scratched.
The most effective scent to use is going to be vinegar, but if the leather furniture is in a room that you use often, you may not appreciate the smell of vinegar on the leather. If the furniture is one that you use often, then you may want to opt for citrus-scented sprays. (If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.)
Always make sure that they are safe to be applied to the leather if you are putting it on the furniture directly.
Citrus is notorious for being a scent that cats hate, as it is uncomfortable for their sensitive nose. It is also more pleasant to the human nose than vinegar is.
Preventing Your Cat From Scratching Furniture
Last, but most certainly not least, you will want to prevent your cat from being inclined to scratch the leather at all. This is going to involve behavioral deterrents.
For instance, if you see your cat scratching the leather, make a loud noise or pick up the cat and remove it from the leather. Do not scold the cat beyond this, or it may come to be aggressive or fearful toward you.
If you find claw marks in the leather but you did not immediately see the cat scratching, do not punish the cat. The cat will not connect the punishment with the unwanted behavior if it wasn’t caught in the act.
A less “punishing” way to handle your cat is to distract it and redirect it. This is especially useful if you already have scratching posts that the cat uses. You will need to wait for the cat to begin scratching for this to be the most effective, as counterproductive as this seems.
Once the cat begins scratching, you will want to gently scoop the cat up and move it toward its favorite scratching post. If the cat scratches here, even a little bit, reward the cat handsomely. This can be with praise, treats, pets, soothing words, or a combination of them all.
You can also consider purchasing motion-activated air hissers. These are completely harmless to the cat. The way they work is when motion is detected, the hisser will spit out some compressed air.
Cats do not appreciate the feeling of compressed air, and the sound the hissers make is similar to a cat’s hiss, telling the cat that its behavior is unwanted.
If your cat has a specific area it seems to want to scratch, aiming one of these motion-activated devices (If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.) at it can prevent the cat from scratching in this area as it learns to associate the hissing and spit of air with being in that area.
With all of these methods combined, you can feel confident knowing that your beautiful and delicate leather furniture will no longer be at the mercy of your cat’s claws.