Talk us in to or out of this...
December 9, 2012 9:52 AM   Subscribe

We found a terrific high quality tufted leather coffee table leather ottoman bench thingie on consignment- this particular one runs around $500 retail. The leather is the soft non scratch kind in dark brown/ black. It looks brand new. We love the idea of it because we have a little human coming and it minimizes the worry about him getting hurt if he hits his head on it. It suits our need for a play table, changing table, foot rest and general decor item. The price it $140. Here is the rub: we have 3 cats.

Is it worth it? We hate to put out all that money for something they may just destroy, but we hate to pass up this steal. We could never afford a nice piece like this retail, but $140 is a lot of money for something the kitties may destroy. They love to claw at the fabric couch despite having a great scratching post. They are also very active and chase each other. I worry not so much about them wanting to purposely claw it, but the damage from spring boarding/ skidding on it. Experiences? Will the fact that this is high quality thick leather- as opposed to cheap thin leather- make a difference in the wear?
posted by MayNicholas to Home & Garden (20 answers total)
I have a couch in a similar soft black scratch-resistant leather. It was the one in the brochure labeled "best for kids and dogs!", and I opted for it because my small dog likes to bounce off the floor, onto the couch, up on the arm, to look out the window, to get all upset about something, jump back down on the seat, skid a little, and back off the couch. I've had it almost 7 years and it still looks great.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 10:05 AM on December 9, 2012

The cats will scratch it, eventually.

The leather is the soft non scratch kind in dark brown/ black.
What kind of leather is non-scratch?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:07 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd buy it. It sounds like a functional piece that will meet current and future needs in your household. Also, speaking as someone who co-habitates with cats, I have phased out all of our fabric furniture and replaced it with leather because it works better for us.

Good leather weathers the depredations of felines decently well. We have some mid-quality leather furniture (Crate & Barrel) and some high-quality leather furniture (Restoration hardware) and two cats with sharp claws. They don't actively scratch the furniture, but definitely use their claws when they're trying to jump up/down avoid falling, etc. We use leather conditioner (I like zymol, which is intended for car leather upholstery but is incredibly on leather furniture). Keeps the leather hydrated and minimizes the unsightliness of the scratches. The claw marks are definitely there but to me they look more like "character" than "destroyed furniture.

Also, this may be a minority position, but: Cats can absolutely be trained to not claw things - it just takes consistency on the part of the humans. Squirt bottles work extremely well, as do taped up cans full of pennies (shake it) as does canned air (squirt, not AT cat obv). Took us about four months but our cats learned that the sisal rugs and scratching posts were fair game, but the oriental rugs and the rest of the furniture was off limits. One of our cats was absolutely a maniac about wanting to scratch a particular chair. Nothing worked - we finally just got a ssscat (cool gizmo which releases compressed air if it detects motion in a narrow field) and that took care of the issue within about 8 hours.
posted by arnicae at 10:08 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

FWIW, our children, in general, are much more rough on furniture than our cats. Our chairs and sofas have some pretty serious cat scratch marks and tears, but that's nothing compared to the spit up, puke, urine, crayon, dents, nicks, scratches, and gouges that our kids have wreaked upon our stuff in the span of a few years. If you like the piece, I say get it because it will ultimately serve the practical purpose that you want it to. (Congrats on the pregnancy!)
posted by puritycontrol at 10:17 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

IMHO, you are buying a $140 scratching post for the cats. On the other hand, you are adding a future toddler to your house and the cats potentially have nothing on the kid. Someone is likely going to draw on it, paint on it, scratch it or glue something to it. I'd buy it as a 5-year piece you are planning to replace in the future.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:20 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

It depends on the cats -- mine always preferred wood, and wood all but ignore leather. It probably depends a lot of the surface size and how sturdy it is.

I would get it, and use something like this cat scratch prevention tape. My mom uses that for all the places she doesn't want the cats to scratch, and they quickly learn to stop scratching. When she took it off, they still didn't scratch the places it had been.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:24 AM on December 9, 2012

Thanks for the input so far.

We have tried that tape on current furniture... One of our cats likes to eat it, so we can't use it. Stupid cat.
posted by MayNicholas at 10:28 AM on December 9, 2012

I have several pieces of leather furniture and my cats have shown zero interest in it. In fact, they seem to actively avoid touching the leather at all. The little bastards are currently running around the house like morons skidding and bumping into and jumping on all of the wood and cloth furniture, doing far more damage to my hardwood floors and Christmas tree than anything else.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:31 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your kids are going to ruin your furniture anyway, so why not get it.
posted by wurly at 10:46 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

A couple months ago we bought a bonded leather sectional and ottoman to replace the sofa and love seat our cats clawed the crap out of (and yes got inked a few times by our daughter but by far the worst damage was from the cats). Our main theory was to make managing the cat hair easier but also that hopefully they'd find the leather less enticing for clawing.

So far so good; they haven't shown any interest in clawing the new furniture. And the cat hair just wipes off. Our cats are seniors though and may be less inclined to take up new tasks.
posted by Mitheral at 10:47 AM on December 9, 2012

Our three cats ruined my awesome leather armchair and nearly all cloth-based cushions we had. It didn't matter how many time we shook a jar of coins at them or shooed them away, or clipped their nails. THEN we got a scratching post, and they've never turned to the chair again. It's hard to resist the urge to yell at them when we hear the *scratch* *scratch* sound, but yeah, they sure do love that scratching post.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:26 AM on December 9, 2012

I've had great success training my 2 cats (including a tape-eater) not to scratch particular pieces of furniture using scent:

First, identify a scent that you don't hate, that won't hurt the leather (or kids!), and that puts the cats into immediate squinchy-faced reverse mode. I use either a citrus-scented natural cleaning product, or something with lemon or tea tree oil. It only takes a very small amount (barely noticeable to me), renewed once a month (week?) or so at the beginning, and the cats have absolutely no interest in scratching there. You have to start this right from the beginning, though -- once they're scratched on an object once, it has the cat graffiti that says "always scratch here." If you use the squinchy-face scent to prevent them from forming the habit, there will be peace and pretty furniture. This works consistently even when you're not in the room. Providing an alternative place where they CAN scratch (and like to scratch) is essential. You can't prevent them from scratching anything at all, but you can have at least some influence on where they do it.
posted by Corvid at 11:42 AM on December 9, 2012

It totally depends. I know that answer blows, but in my experience it's true. We have a leather club chair that 2 cats totally ignored...until six months later when 1 destroyed it in about four hours while we were out. The current cats have totally ignored all the leather furniture, but have destroyed some cloth.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:56 AM on December 9, 2012

Ahhhh... Thank you for all insight. Still trying to decide.
posted by MayNicholas at 3:07 PM on December 9, 2012

My (pretty young, new to me) cat is a maniac about anything vertical. Leather or cloth, makes no difference. He uses the scratching post, but only as a variation on his routine. All of my furniture is pretty banged up anyway, so I haven't gotten around to trying to train him out of it yet, but I got a clicker training guide and in a few weeks I'll have some time to implement. Have you tried wrapping furniture edges in plastic wrap? That worked for me in the past. Wherever they like to scratch, put the plastic wrap and they won't like the feel of the stuff under their claws. Wrap all the way around the ottoman for a few weeks when you first get it and in theory it will no longer exist for them as a scratching possibility. IN THEORY.

Really, it's a crapshoot. Good luck!
posted by clone boulevard at 4:05 PM on December 9, 2012

Not to sound pessimistic, but basically he'll probably find ways to hurt himself regardless, because little humans do stuff like that. So I mean safety is great but if you think it will be useful and you want it, and you're willing to see it get wrecked, just assume that the little one can find a way to hurt itself on the thing no matter what. Also, it is going to get wrecked.
posted by windykites at 4:57 PM on December 9, 2012

That came out wrong- what I mean is that I don't think having that piece of furniture will significantly reduce how carefully you have to watch/ protect from ouchies.
posted by windykites at 5:02 PM on December 9, 2012

I'm of the belief that you can have nice things, or you can have kids and/or pets.
posted by crankylex at 7:56 PM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another person here to say that my cat hates my leather chair and hasn't touched it at all.
posted by pointystick at 8:52 AM on December 10, 2012

I have had babies/kids, cats, and puppies/dogs and leather furniture. So far, the most damage has come from the dogs who liked to chew on the furniture when they were puppies.

In terms of overall house damage, it is dogs #1, kids #2 (but you didn't tell me I couldn't use blue Tempura paint in the living room on the white carpet and I didn't mean to spill) and cats. Had we had house-trained dogs instead of puppies, then it would be kids #1.
posted by elmay at 11:48 AM on December 10, 2012

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