It can be a completely heartbreaking moment when you find out that your family’s favorite pet has used your leather sofa as a scratching post. And it’s even worse if they have done it in a place where the scratching has gone unnoticed for months, and there are not just a few surface scratches.
Now, before you immediately call for professional help or just try to cover it up with shoe polish, there is a right way to repair cat scratches.
And if you’ve caught the problem early enough, then you could have it fixed in a few hours with little more than household items.
Assess The Damage First
Before you just buy the first leather repair kit online to repair cat scratches, you have to take a close look at the damage first.
Some of those kits are very expensive, and if you use the wrong approach, then you could end up doing more harm to your leather furniture than good.
In most cases, if you’ve caught your cat in action early enough, then it’s likely that you only have a few surface scratches on the leather sofa. Use a magnifying glass or a good-quality camera to get a closer look.
If it’s a more straight-line scratch and you can’t get a fingernail into it, then you might be lucky, and only the coating on the leather needs repairing.
You’ll also most likely only need a few common household items and tools to repair minor cat scratches on leather.
More on that shortly.
In some cases, cat scratches on leather can be quite severe, especially if your cat has gone back over the same spot multiple times. You can tell this kind of damage immediately by running your fingernail over the damaged leather furniture section.
If your nails sink into the scratches, then you’ve got more than just surface damage. But there’s still hope that you’ll be able to fix it yourself.
It just means investing in a few extra materials.
The worst kind of cat scratches on leather to deal with are those where your cat has torn through the leather. If you can poke a pencil or even your finger through the leather surface, then you’ve got a bigger problem.
However, this is quite rare, especially if you have a full or top-grain leather sofa where the material is a lot tougher than all the cheap types of leather you can get.
Now, your leather sofa can still be rescued, but you’ll likely need help from an upholstery professional. Using leather glue and other methods is complicated to get right.
Fixing Minor Surface Scratches
If you’ve identified a minor scratch on a leather sofa, then all you need is a soft cloth, scissors, fine sandpaper, and some olive oil.
Step 1: Wipe Down The Area
The first step of repairing cat scratches on leather is to wipe the area clean with a soft cloth and some leather cleaner. You need to remove any hairs and dirt before going to the next step to avoid doing any further damage.
If you don’t have a leather cleaning solution, then some gentle pH-neutral soap will work just as well.
Step 2: Remove Loose Fibers
You need very sharp scissors, and some people find that nail scissors work best because they allow you to get close to the leather’s surface. With minor cat scratches on leather, you might still see some small fibers, and you need to completely remove those.
Run your hand over the surface a few times to make sure you catch them all. Also, use a magnifying glass again to check if removing the fibers reveals some more serious damage than you thought.
Step 3: Lightly Sand The Area
The next step involves using very fine sandpaper to smooth over the part of the leather furniture that your cat damaged. The trick is not to apply much pressure but rather let the paper just gently rub over the surface.
This will make sure that you don’t remove undamaged layers on your leather couch. Wipe the area down again with a dry cloth to get rid of any dust, and then feel the surface with your hands to check for any remaining rough patches.
Step 4: Apply Oil
Use a cotton swab and pour a small amount of olive oil on it. Then lightly rub the olive oil on the scratched leather patch and leave it dry for about an hour. You may need to apply more oil a couple of times for it to sink in fully.
If, after multiple layers of olive oil, you still see lighter shade areas from the cat scratches, then you may need to try the coloring steps from our deep scratch repair steps below.
Fixing Deep Cat Scratches
OK, now let me show you the process of repairing cat scratches on leather where you’ve found deep scratches on leather sofas. In this case, olive oil won’t do the trick, and you’ll need a leather filler and binding material.
Step 1: Prepare The Area
The first step is pretty much the same as above. You need to clean the area and remove any fibers that are hanging loose. The chances are that you’ll have bigger bits of leather to remove, and this is where a palette knife or straight razor can come in handy.
Just be very careful not to add more scratches or cut the leather. And run your hand over the prepared area of the leather sofa to check if there’s anything left before moving onto step 2.
Step 2: Apply Leather Binder
Use a clean cloth to apply a layer of leather binder to the scratches and surrounding leather. The binder will help to strengthen the leather again. You’ll need to leave the leather air dry before applying at least eight coats of the binder.
This way, you can make sure that you don’t lose any of the strength in the affected area.
Step 3: Sand The Area
Once the binder is dry, you need to sand the surface gently again. This removes any surplus binder and makes sure that you have a completely smooth area on the leather furniture.
You can confirm this with a soft cloth or some cotton wool. Simply rub it slowly over the treated area and see if it gets caught on any rough edges that might still remain.
Step 4: Apply Heavy Leather Filler
Next, you’ll be applying a leather filler. This is like filling a crack or hole in a wall, where you rub the heavy filler into the scratches from all directions.
You need to apply quite a bit of it to create a thick enough layer to fill the scratches. Then allow a few hours for the drying process to complete and apply more filler if needed.
Step 5: Sand Again
There will be some surplus heavy filler on the repair area of your furniture, and your next task is to gently sand it down so that you end up with a completely smooth area that blends in with the rest of the furniture.
You’ll feel the difference once you’ve done enough sanding, as you shouldn’t be able to feel a scratch or raised portion anymore.
Step 6: Apply First Layer Of Colorant
I generally recommend using a spray colorant as it leaves a much more even and thin layer on the leather furniture. It’s important that the first coat is very thin. Don’t let it build up or smudge, as you could end up starting from scratch.
Also, do a small patch test with the color on a piece of leather underneath the sofa to make sure it’s a good match.
Step 7: Apply Additional Layers Of Colorant
The next step to repair cat scratches is to wait until the first paint layer is dry and then apply as many thin layers as needed. For aniline leather, you might only need one or two layers of spray-on colorant.
Sometimes it’s also good to wait several hours and then look at the scratched area of furniture again to see if you really need to add more.
Step 8: Apply Finishing Seal
The final repair step is to apply a finishing seal. This adds some water and stain resistance and protects the damaged leather.
It also helps to make the finished leather properly blend in, and from a distance, you shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the original leather and a scratch.
Take The Right Steps To Repair Cat Scratches
The last thing you want to do is panic when you see that your cat has scratched your leather sofa. Follow the easy steps to assess the damage and then take the appropriate actions.
And to avoid this happening to leather sofas or other furniture you have, make sure you get designated scratching posts to reduce the chances of it happening again.