Cat meets sofa...
March 18, 2006 11:49 AM   Subscribe

What will happen when our scratching cat meets our (proposed) new leather sofa?

The cat in question takes great delight in sharpening her claws on the corner of our sofa and on the piano stool's fabric top. She occasionally attacks the carpet, but never wood and (apparently) never vinyl.

We're considering changing the fabric sofa for a leather one since the old one is dying of old age, but we're worried about pest's claws. Will she shred it or will she ignore it? The sofa salesman seems to think it's unlikely due to the comparative smoothness of the leather, but he does have an interest in us buying a leather sofa.

Any opinions?
posted by twine42 to Pets & Animals (23 answers total)
My cats have ruined two leather chairs of mine - and they're generally not too bad with their claws. They use a scratching post to sharpen, but they often let the claws come out when they're jumping onto or off of things for traction, and have completely decimated the two leather items I own. I will not be buying a leather couch as long as the two of them are alive.

I would not recommend you do, either.
posted by twiggy at 11:58 AM on March 18, 2006

My cat loved to scratch my leather sofa and chair. I tried several deterrents - a spray bottle of water, wrapping the lower part of the furniture with saran wrap (they hate the texture, supposedly), and even spraying the furniture with vinegar (which was supposed to turn them off). Nothing helped.
I don't recommend a leather couch with a cat that still has claws (not that I recommend declawing, but you didn't ask that).
posted by disclaimer at 12:08 PM on March 18, 2006

What twiggy said. Our cat doesn't actually go at the furniture, but damage still happens. It's not something you can train away, unless you can find a way to keep the kitty off the furniture, period (ha).

I recommend finding something that can take a few pokes, making sure your cat has something special to scratch, and investing in some Feliway.
posted by moira at 12:12 PM on March 18, 2006

My experience with multiple cats over many years is this: even cats who normally don't scratch the furniture will be irresistably, ineluctably, unstoppably drawn to leather furniture. Vinegar, lavendar, Saran-wrap, what have you: doesn't matter. They will destroy your leather furniture. Gleefully. Repeatedly. With relish.

At my house, after years of trying everything, we finally decided that we can have cats or we can have nice furniture. We chose to have cats.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:26 PM on March 18, 2006

Get some estimates on the price of fixing fabric upholstery vs. leather. Then revisit the idea of a leather sofa.
posted by scratch at 12:34 PM on March 18, 2006

My cats do not actively scratch the sofa, but there are many surface scratches on the arms, a sign of "cat rodeo" being played while I'm not around. The hind claws are usually the culprit.

Frankly, I've caused more than a few scuffs of my own, when I've been careless with my shoes, or if my keys stuck a bit out of my pockets and snagged something. But I don't care - I like leather furiture and a slightly distressed look does not bother me.

Still, it's damage, and is obvious when you sit down. However, my sofa and chair set have far more noticable sun-fading, which will probably cause me to replace/repair the furniture before the scratches become a concern.
posted by Sangre Azul at 1:22 PM on March 18, 2006

We seem blessed with cats that do not tend to scratch the furniture. We have a nice couch (not leather but an expensive material) with a homemade sisal scratching post just off the most tempting corner. The post was there before the cats and we have never tried to interest them in it- they simply got tremendous shit if they used anything else. I suspect that as the cat is in the habit with the old couch she will continue on, especially if leather is as tempting as seems to be the case. You might take the long approach and locate a scratching post where it is more convenient than the couch and see if you can shift her focus before you spend money on what could be a very deluxe scratching post.
posted by pointilist at 2:18 PM on March 18, 2006

I remember an unfortunate incident when The Monster somehow got himself inside my exboyfriend's new leather recliner and.. wait for it.. he tried to claw his way out the back. Thankfully I don't think the ex ever noticed those tiny pinholes in the leather. I did, though, and swore at that moment to never buy leather so long as I own cats.
posted by gatorae at 2:19 PM on March 18, 2006

My cat has scratched every upholstery sofa I've owned, but completely ignored the leather sofa I had. I've actually always assumed leather was fairly cat-proof! She did leave the occasional claw mark, but a little Murphy's oil soap generally plumped up the leather enough to hide them.
posted by occhiblu at 2:42 PM on March 18, 2006

I grew up in a house with a cat and a leather sofa. Although the cat was quite fond of sleeping on the sofa, he never scratched it—not even a little. As far as I know, he did all his scratching outdoors.
posted by ryanrs at 3:18 PM on March 18, 2006

We have a nice leather sofa, acquired before a certain turd decided to grace us with her presence. She doesn't deliberately scratch the sofa, as she's a fiend for her scratching post (and new scratching townhouse -- velcro kitty!). She has, however, caused some fairly deep scratches when she's.. spazzed out.. and "mrrr"'d around the room at high speed. I'm trying to keep her off it altogether but.. well..


Similarly, my parents have a pair of cats and have always had leather couches. The cats have never used the couch as a scratching post, however one did love to sleep on it and would knead the leather with his claws. Not so good.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:24 PM on March 18, 2006

If you are hidebound to buy the couch, here's a thread worth perusing — good tips for kittymittens, pedicures, etc.
posted by rob511 at 3:52 PM on March 18, 2006

To echo what the others have said: Our cat doesn't generally sharpen on the furniture but whilst kneading or just walking around, the cat has inflicted noticeable claw damage on our nice leather sofa. :( I suspect that the same kind of behavior occurs on our other furniture, but simply isn't detrimental to its finish. Needless to say, I'll be staying away from leather upholstery in the future.
posted by maniactown at 4:21 PM on March 18, 2006

coriolisdave : she an absynian by any chance? Very similar looks to the little neck ache that is our abysinian russian blue cross.

Sounds like the leather may be a bad idea from the scratching POV. However... with a half decent leather (top skin, deep dyed non embossed type) is she likely to stratch it or shread it like she has the fabric on thge existing one?

Thanks for the answers by the way guys...
posted by twine42 at 4:27 PM on March 18, 2006

You might want to look into Softpaws. They really do work, as long as you check your cat's claws every now and then to replace the caps that have popped off.
posted by makonan at 4:49 PM on March 18, 2006

Instead of a leather sofa, consider a sofa with removable fabric cover. (Example.)
posted by iviken at 5:53 PM on March 18, 2006

I have friends with four cats (fully clawed) and a leather sofa. They don't touch it, so it could clearly go either way.
posted by zadcat at 7:48 PM on March 18, 2006

My mom's cat gets along with the leater sofa & chair, but they live in BFE and the cat's an indoor/outdoor, which most likely your cat is not (ie, my mom's cat has options for exercise and scratching that an indoor cat doesn't have).

I've said this before in cat-scratching-furniture threads, but my question would be if your furniture has ever been around other cats. Our cats want to scratch furniture that either of us had previous to the cats, but ONLY if that furniture has ever been in contact with cats. So, both of us have armchairs from previous lives and those lives involved cats -- shredded. Futon? They don't touch it. New couch and chairs (microfiber)? Nope. They pay them no attention whatsoever other than to sleep on them.

If your cat is just a scratcher though, and she doesn't go outside, I will have to again pimp the Soft Claws (which do require some maintenance) and the Klaw Kontrol Bag for application of said claws.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:39 PM on March 18, 2006

Can you get something like a leather-covered pillow or cushion inexpensively (possibly used, if you can make sure it hasn't been in a home with other live animals, which would change the cat's reaction), and set it out near where the cats usually scratch (like on a corner of the sofa)? That might be a good way to tell if yours is the sort of cat that goes nuts over leather, or pretty much leaves it alone in favor of upholstery, without incurring the expense of a large, stylish, comfortable scratching post that won't be nearly so stylish or comfortable once the claws come out.
posted by Cricket at 9:00 PM on March 18, 2006

I've read this thread with interest and come to a realization: we've never bought a NEW piece of leather furniture. Only used. Maybe THATS why they've attacked it.....hmmm.....
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:14 PM on March 18, 2006

How about getting a sofa in phases: 1. Get a scratching post 2. Train them to use it and nothing else 3. Get Leather Furniture 4. ??? 6. Profit.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:18 AM on March 19, 2006

Keep their claws clipped, make sure you have a scratching post they love, maybe a leather covered one in addition to another. When I had a cat, I sprayed the scratching post with catnip spray, and she used it and not the furniture.
posted by theora55 at 8:30 AM on March 19, 2006

I wouldn't get a scratching post covered in the same material you're trying to teach the cats *not* to scratch. That way madness lies.
posted by occhiblu at 9:48 AM on March 21, 2006

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