How to Repair a Cat Scratch on a Leather Sofa

How to Repair Cat Scratch on Leather Furniture

As any cat parent knows, leather sofas and cats don’t mix. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing better than plopping down on my luxurious leather coach after a long day, but my kitty comes first. When you have a cat in the house, you know it’s a bit difficult to keep your sofa in the pristine condition you bought it in. 

The good news is that there are ways to prevent your cat from scratching your leather sofa (to minimize the damage), and best yet, some excellent ways to repair leather if your kitty does inevitably nick up your sofa.

Cats and Leather Don’t Mix

Cats scratch to keep their claws sharp so they are ready to pounce at their next unsuspecting prey (and defend themselves if need be), so there isn’t much that can be done to stop them from this innate behavior. A cat is going to scratch, it’s just a fact of life!

Unfortunately for your leather couch, leather is a material that tends to feel very satisfying for a cat’s claws. It is pliable and soft which gives a cat satisfying feedback when scratching, especially if it is real leather. 

This is obviously not a good combination to have. 

Even after you make sure that your cat has countless scratching posts and areas to scratch that are not on your expensive leather sofa, you may still be left with scratches on it that you need to fix. 

You might be worried that you have to turn to an expensive leather upholstery repair, and while severe and extensive damage may require this, there are other home remedies that you can try before you have to spend the money on a professional repair job.

Assessing the Damage After Your Cat Scratches Your Leather Furniture

The first thing to note is that there are technically two types of scratching damage that your cat can incur on the leather sofa. 

  1. Scratched Holes: There is the typical scratching damage that comes from the cat’s method of scratching to keep its claws sharp. This will typically leave loose fibers and more hole-like damage to the sofa. 
  2. Scratched Lines: The second type of scratching damage is when a cat will scratch in a line-like pattern, leaving lines all over the leather. This typically happens when your cat stretches and uses your couch as something to hold onto, or if the cat slips and tries to use your sofa as something to grip onto. 

While the types of damage are similar, the way of dealing with these scratches can be a little bit different depending on how the leather is physically affected. 

Scratch Depth

You will also want to determine if the damage to the leather is a light, surface scratch, or a deeper scratch. Consider how leather is technically just the skin of another animal. Skin has layers to it, with the top layers being thinner but also healing with less effort if they are damaged. 

Light Scratches

Light scratches to leather can be thought of like light scrapes to the skin, where it may be sensitive for a while, but they are far easier to cover up as the layers underneath are not broken. 

Deep Scratches

Deep scratches can be thought of as going through more layers of skin, requiring more extensive repair so that you are not just covering up the area, but also addressing the damage deeper within. 

How to Repair Cat Scratches on Leather with Olive Oil

Olive oil is amazing. It can be used to make your salad more delicious, fry up your favorite meal and even to help improve the quality of your skin, but did you know you could also use it to remove scratches from leather surfaces? It turns out olive oil isn’t only yummy, it’s also a great low-cost way to repair your damaged leather coach!

Note: Olive oil is only effective for repairing light scratches. It will not be effective on actual puncture holes.

Why Olive Oil Works

To understand why olive oil can be used for this purpose, consider that leather is simply skin that has been tanned and processed. It still has many of the same properties of skin, such as being absorbent and having multiple layers. 

Specifically, leather is a porous surface, much like skin is. As such, it is capable of absorbing liquids. Keep in mind that some treated leathers are not able to absorb much liquid, which makes it difficult to repair using olive oil.

Leather will absorb the olive oil, restoring its appearance and helping to cover up the damage from light scratches. 

Technically, it does not “repair” the scratches in the sense of restoring the damage and bringing the leather to a like-new condition. It is more akin to covering up a scratch with something that will have it match the same color as the rest of the sofa. This is the main reason why this method doesn’t work for deeper scratches that affect the texture of the sofa as well as its looks. 

Step-By-Step Guide: Using Olive Oil for Leather Repair

Items You Will Need:

  • Cotton Swab or Q-Tip
  • A Few Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Always remember to test the olive oil in an inconspicuous area first to make sure that it isn’t going to leave a stain. 

Step 1: Apply the Olive Oil

Put the cotton swab in the olive oil and then apply it to the scratched portion of the sofa in a circular motion. The entire area where you have applied the olive oil should be in the shape of a circle. 

Step 2: Wait for Leather to Absorb Oil

From here, you will want to wait about an hour for the oil to fully absorb into the leather. You should prevent your cats (and other people) from sitting in this area until it is dry so that they don’t absorb the oil themselves. 

Step 3: Repeat Steps Above as Needed

After an hour has passed, if you still see the scratches you can repeat the process once more, waiting another hour in total. 

For most light scratches on leather surfaces, this will often take care of the damage. 

How to Fix Cat Claw Holes in Leather

Fixing physical puncture holes from your cat’s claws is a little bit more daunting of a procedure, especially with genuine leather. Often, this may leave a pockmarked appearance, even if you handle the repair as properly as you can without professional equipment. 

This is a risk you should be aware of when you bring a cat into a house with genuine leather furniture and without guards to protect areas that cats may be prone to scratching. 

How To Repair Cat Scratches on Leather

This video provides a step by step guide detailing how to repair cat scratches on leather. Full details are given on the processes and all products used in a…

Step-By-Step Guide: Repairing Puncture Holes in Leather

Items You Will Need:

  • Leather Binder
  • Leather Repair Kit
  • Leather Colorant

Step 1: Remove Damaged Fibers

As part of this process you will need to cut away any damaged fibers that are sticking out of the punctured holes. 

Step 2: Apply Binder and Repair Kit

You will then need a leather binder, a repair kit, and a kit to color the leather with. The binder helps to strengthen the leather underneath, now that it is not connected by the natural fibers of the leather anymore. This should be applied numerous times, typically 8 to 10 times depending on the product. 

Step 3: Sanding

Sand the area down to be as flat as the rest of the surface. This can benefit from a fine piece of sandpaper, typically around 1200 grit. Take care to only sand the area that the leather binder was applied to, as that area was the one strengthened. 

Step 4: Apply Fillers

Begin using the fillers that are designed for genuine leather couches. Use them according to the directions on the packaging, sanding the area down again once it is fully dried. 

Step 5: Apply Colorant

You will then want to begin applying the colorant. This should also be done according to the instructions, typically using a sponge to dab small amounts of the colorant at a time. 

Step 6: Let it Dry

Apply the finish and let it sit and cure as necessary. Make sure to avoid this area until it is completely dry.

How to Fix Cat Scratches on Fake Leather

If you have faux leather or vinyl furniture that got scratched up by your cat, you will need to take a slightly different approach to repair the damage. You can’t fix fake leather the way that you fix genuine leather. 

No matter how authentic or realistic the fake leather is, it is fundamentally different than genuine leather, which means that you need to take a different approach to fix it. 

The Difference Between Genuine Leather and Faux Leather

The main reason for this is that fake leather, which is often made from vinyl or plastic, does not have the same delicate porous layers that genuine leather does. 

This means that you don’t have to treat it with the same level of delicacy, but it also means that solutions that focus on working with those layers and natural oils are not going to be nearly as effective. 

Step-By-Step Guide: Repairing Scratches in Fake Leather

Items You Will Need:

  • Scissors
  • Leather Filler
  • Leather Colorant
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Saran Wrap

Step 1: Trim Excess Materials

Trim away any fibers so that the texture is as smooth as the rest of the sofa’s surface. If there are any flaps that will not settle completely flat, they should be cut away so that you do not have a bumpy or sunken appearance from them. This will help obscure any textural differences so that your repair method can be more effective. 

Step 2: Apply Fillers

Use a leather filler product to physically fill any holes where parts of the couch have been damaged. These products are easy to find and finding one that works with your sofa shouldn’t be too difficult as they are generally universal. 

Step 3: Let it Dry

Let the product dry. The amount of time this takes depends on the filler product you chose, so you should follow the instructions on the product accordingly. 

Step 4: Clean and Reapply as Needed

Once the product has dried, you will want to wipe away any excess with rubbing alcohol. This will also show you how much of the surface you are going to need to color match. Continue working with the filler product you purchased as it is recommended. Some products have different fillers for different areas of damage, others will need to have several applications done because of natural shrinkage from drying. Work according to the product’s instructions, making sure to keep the surface you are working with leveled flat whenever you can. 

If you want the area to be properly textured, you can use saran wrap or gloves to add that texture before the final coating of the product dries. Let it finish curing and drying as necessary. 

Step 5: Cure and Finish

When it is fully cured and dried and you are satisfied with the filler, you can apply a color that matches the rest of the sofa as well as a clear finish to protect all the work you have done. This should leave your sofa looking like new again with little indication that it was a scratching post for a misbehaving cat.

Finding the Best Cat Scratch Leather Repair Kits

There are numerous leather repair kits available that will help you repair and remove cat scratches from your leather furniture. When you are looking at your options, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Make sure it applies to your type of leather
  • Make sure it has the colorants needed to match your leather
  • Make sure that it works for either genuine leather or vinyl, depending on what your sofa is made from. 
  • Always make sure to read reviews to ensure that you are getting a quality product. 

Additional Resources: 

Lara Kitt

When we aren't scooping up droppings to ensure a luxurious litter box experience for our fur babies, we are writing all sorts of stuff about cats for your enjoyment and knowledge.

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