Leather furniture may look great in your home, but it can also attract the attention of your cat. Scratching is a very common feline behavior that can do serious damage to your expensive home furniture.
In order to stop your cat from scratching leather furniture, provide a feline-approved area with scratching post. If your cat looks set to scratch, redirect it to the approved area so that it understands. Clean your furniture once or twice a day with a citrus-based cleaning agent as cats dislike the smell of oranges and lemons.
Consider why your cat is scratching your furniture based on the explanations that we’ll be covering shortly. If you can get to the root of the problem, it’ll be easier to find a workable solution.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Why Do Cats Scratch Leather Furniture?
- 2 Stopping a Cat from Scratching Leather Furniture
Why Do Cats Scratch Leather Furniture?
Scratching is an instinctive behavior for most cats. Felines will typically scratch anything they can for a range of reasons. Leather is particularly appealing to some cats due to the texture and sound that it makes.
Recreation and Exercise
Scratching is an effective workout for cats. As per the Journal of Neurophysiology, scratching stretches tendons and muscles throughout the cat’s body.
What’s more, scratching is good fun for many cats. It’s something to do if the cat is lacking stimulation. It creates a noise, which the cat will find enjoyable. In the case of leather, the cat may even slice open the furniture. This appeals to a cat’s hunting instincts.
Look at it from your cat’s perspective. When it captures prey, the torso mice and birds can be torn open. Your leather furniture is providing the same effect. When the cat swipes with claws, soft material rips open.
There is also the curiosity and wonder of what lies beneath the leather. Once the surface is opened, stuffing will be exposed. The cat will want to keep scratching, learning exactly how much stuffing the furniture contains.
Do you not allow your cat to sit on expensive leather furniture? This will make the cat determined to claim it as its own. Your cat already considers everything in your home to be its property.
Scratching leather leaves marks and unmistakable scents. Leather retains scent more than fabric. When a cat scratches at leather, it rubs paw pads all over the material. These paw pads content scenting glands. The cat is rubbing its smell all over the leather. This is classic marking behavior.
What’s more, the grooves left in leather by claws are obvious for all to see. If you spot them, another cat certainly would. It is sending a message that the piece of furniture has already been identified and claimed.
Marking is common in all cats, but is especially prevalent in multi-pet homes. The more competition exists for territory, the harder cats will fight for their personal space.
Cats also scratch to file down their claws and remove dead husks. This is why we provide cats with scratching posts. Naturally, leather is soft. This makes it less impactful for filing claws.
Cats will not object to a slow process of claw filing as leather feels good. It’s soft enough not to create pain or any sharp edges on the nail. The cat will just keep scratching until it grows bored or is made to stop.
Scratching releases endorphins for cats. This makes it a great way to release stress. The softness of leather makes it doubly appealing. The cat will gravitate to this furniture to release any pent-up agitation or anxiety.
Cats are easily stressed, by things that you may not even realize. Boredom and loneliness are also common sources of feline stress. This negative emotion needs to be released somehow. Your leather furniture may bear the brunt of it.
All cats experience a little misapprehension from time to time. Keep this under control, though. In addition to being unpleasant for the cat, stress is also dangerous. Older cats, in particular, can only cope with so much high blood pressure.
Stopping a Cat from Scratching Leather Furniture
Assess why your cat is scratching furniture. This way, you can tailor your training and response accordingly.
If you are unsure why your cat scratches at leather, follow each of these steps in turn. Eventually, a combination of these solutions will work.
Ensure that your cat territory to call its own within the home. This is pivotal to helping a cat feel safe and secure. If your cat feels like it has no territory, it will try to claim everything else. Once a particular area is dedicated to the cat, it will calm down.
A rarely used room is ideal for a cat’s territory. This could be a spare bedroom, a laundry room, or even a broom closet. The important thing is that the cat has somewhere to retreat to. Once in its territory, the cat should never be disturbed.
Devoting an entire room to a cat may not always be realistic. If you live in a small apartment, any kind of space will be at a premium. Happily, cats do not need acres of space. Even a corner of a shared living space will pass as territory, if set up correctly.
This territory should be quiet and contain something that belongs to the cat. A bed or blanket is ideal. Let the cat rest and groom in this area without fuss. It will quickly learn that it has its own private fiefdom and claiming furniture through scratching is unnecessary.
Be aware, if your cat roams outdoors it will be more territorial. The same applies to former stray or feral cats. These felines are used to claiming space that stretches for miles. You will need to work hard to ensure your cat understands what belongs to it.
Alternative Scratching Sources
Alongside specified territory, the cat needs something to scratch. This behavior is hardwired into the feline brain. Expecting a cat not to scratch is like expecting a baby not to cry.
Applied Animal Behavior Science surveyed 550 owners of 1,177 cats about unwanted actions. Furniture scratching was high on the list, totaling 15% of the complaints.
Providing a scratching post should be among the first things you do for a cat. This provides the cat with an approved area to exercise this habit. When your cat scratches its post, praise and treat it heavily. If the cat shows no interest, add catnip or an appealing scent.
In addition, consider investing in a small piece of leather similar to your furniture. Keep this in the same area as the scratching post. This means the cat has its own leather to scratch. This will, in theory, break the fascination with your couch or armchair.
The moment your cat starts to scratch, distract it. Clap your hands, or use a short, firm command like, “no.” Be loud enough to get the cat’s attention, but not so loud it is frightening.
It’s important to wait for the cat to start scratching. This may sound counter-productive, but you are forging a link between behavior and response. If you distract the cat before it misbehaves, it will not understand why it is in trouble.
The moment your cat is distracted, quickly but calmly scoop it up and redirect it to a scratching post. Encourage the cat to scratch here, making a fuss when it does. Use petting, treats and soothing words. Cats always respond better to carrot than stick.
The aim is to teach your cat that scratching, in and of itself, is fine. It is your leather furniture that is out of bounds. If you repeat this process a number of times, your cat will understand.
Leather holds scents well. If your cat has scratched leather, its aroma will linger. The same applies if the cat has simply sat on a leather sofa or armchair. The cat will detect its own scent and assume the furniture is its own property.
Combat this by cleaning your leather furniture. You should do this once a day, ideally twice. It’s a lot of work, but it remains important. The more a cat’s scent sinks into leather, the harder the scratching habit is to break.
If the cat’s scent is particularly strong, use baking soda to combat it. Liberally apply this powder to the furniture and leave it for an hour or two. This will absorb the aromas. Vacuum up the loose powder and your furniture will be restored to neutral scent.
You can pair this technique with deterrent scents. Look into a citrus-scented cleaning product that is leather-safe. Most cats are naturally averse to the scent of citrus. This will keep your cat away from the furniture altogether. Just do not allow the aroma to become overpowering. This will cause distress to the cat.
Stress and Anxiety Management
Keeping your cat calm and happy is key to avoiding unwanted behavior. The more stressed and anxious a cat becomes, the more it will scratch. If the cat wants attention, it will be sure to scratch leather furniture.
Manage a cat’s stress and anxiety by keeping it in a reliable routine. Feed, play with and groom your cat at the same time every day. This promotes a sense of security and harmony in the feline brain.
Ensure that your cat has plenty of stimulation, too. A bored cat is a stressed cat. Toys are obviously key to this, but don’t neglect one-on-attention. Just stop and talk to your cat every now and again. This will keep the cat entertained.
Claws of excessive length are painful and awkward for felines. Excessively lengthy claws cannot be retracted, making movement difficult. Eventually, the paw pads may even puncture.
The use of a scratching post will keep a cat’s claws trim. This is one of many reasons why such tools are so important. You still need to keep an eye open, though. If your cat’s claws look too long, assist with manual clipping.
Most cats loathe having their paws touched. Get your cat used to this handling and invest in claw trimmers from a pet store. Toenail clippers designed will snap like twigs on a cat’s tough, keratin claws.
If you cannot convince your cat to allow nail clipping, ask a vet or groomer for assistance. One thing that should not be considered is declawing the cat. This is also known as an onychectomy.
An onychectomy is not simply trimming off a cat’s claws. Feline claws are attached to foot bones. This means that an onychectomy involves amputating the final bone on each toe. This makes walking difficult.
Declawed cats can also experience prolonged back pain and engage in undesirable behaviors. As per the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, declawed cats are likelier to bite and eliminate outside the litter box.
If you’re unable to train your cat out of scratching leather, protect your furniture. Consider wrapping blankets around the cushions. Make these tight enough for the cat to be unable to unpick the cover.
You could also consider scratch guards if you do not want to cover your furniture. These are adhesives that are applied to the furniture. Place them strategically where your cat likes to scratch.
What’s more, this is an opportunity to establish boundaries with your cat. If you fail to set rules, your cat may grow increasingly dominant. It is key that a cat understands what is acceptable and what is not.
It takes training to stop a cat from scratching leather furniture. Cats are pliable and will change scratching habits to something more palatable. You just need to be consistent and engage in training.