How to repair cat scratched leather

Today I’m sharing my second installment of “embarrassing repairs I’ve made, but I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem so I’ll share how I fixed it“. The first installment being how to repair a flatwoven rug.

As any cat owner will know, cats have a natural urge to sharpen their nails. I would like to take this opportunity to say our apartment is not tore up from the floor up. It is not shredded and covered in cat scratches. I have zero tolerance for those things. It’s a case that Juniper chose to pick one of our dining room chairs [seen as the farthest right chair in this post] in a place that we don’t see. This is the worst damage they’ve done to date as I’m usually pretty on the ball. I’ve gotten Juniper something else to scratch since, so let’s not get too mad at her. She is after all, adoraballs and just doing something natural.

But should you also have a furry friend than enjoys using leather furniture for target practice, do not fret. You are among friends. There is a way.

What you’ll need
– curved manicure / fine scissors or nail clippers
– leather shoe polish to match

Step 1 – using a fine or curved pair of manicure scissors, trim the stringy scratches off the leather. Trim them as close to the leather as you can, without cutting the leather itself. This is where I find manicure scissors and / or nail clippers very good. Take your time. The more detailed you are, the better it will turn out.
You’ll end up with something like this …

Step 2 – once you’re happy with your trimming and you’ve cut the loose scratches as close to the leather as possible, it’s time to add the shoe polish. As the scratches are a much lighter colour than the leather, make sure to mush the polish into every part of the scratches. I did this in a circular motion. I didn’t have to do many layers and the shoe polish quickly covered the damage. Allow to dry for a couple of hours before use*.

No, it’s not a perfect finish. No, I’m not a furniture restoration expert, but I have repaired a couch or two in this way over the years and it’s worked a treat. I repaired the chair to the point that it is unrecognizably scratched, unless you point it out.

I do however know that the only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure your cat has cat-friendly items to scratch and to keep an eye on what areas of your home they are choosing to scratch in. Our girls have their recycled cat scratching post and Toshi occasionally has a good go at our basket, which I’m okay with for the moment. I also trim both our cats nails every two weeks to make sure they don’t do too much damage.

the shoe polish I use doesn’t rub off once dry [I used the W5 series shoe polish available in Lidl]. I didn’t buff it, but just let it dry. Please be aware that some polishes may rub off, so follow the instructions on your polish accordingly.
To conclude this post and to hopefully cancel any ill thoughts you may have towards her, here’s Juniper doing what she does best – exposing her fluffy belly and softer-than-clouds paws. I dare you to get mad at that face.

How to repair cat scratched leather using just two household items!

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  1. February 25, 2015 / 10:50

    This is actually amazeballs. AND LOOK AT THAT FACE. No one could be mad at that face. xxx

    • February 26, 2015 / 07:33

      The combination of that face + floofy belly = killer. She could actually get away with murder xx

    • Lindsey
      May 7, 2018 / 18:45

      I’ve been looking , for an option for helping our leather couches I thought I was doomed I will for sure try this ! Thanks !

  2. February 25, 2015 / 17:16

    I would never have thought that you could repair that so well (not you personally, but anyone!) – you would practically not know it had ever happened – what a difference between the before and after! You are truly a domestic goddess. xx

    • February 26, 2015 / 09:21

      I'm quite proud with how well it turned out. I've done this a couple of times over the years, in small places here and there. I once repaired a patterned fabric couch in the same manner except I used markers in stead of shoe polish. It sounds crude, but it was perfection.

      I'm like a furniture ninja.

  3. Anonymous
    February 27, 2015 / 11:11

    I am amazed. This is such a good tip!! I will be using it to repair part of our couch our cats just started scratching at. This is just what I needed, thank you!!

    • February 27, 2015 / 17:28

      Yaay! I'm glad to hear it! The bit about being helpful – not the cat scratches bit. I can sympathize with you there.

      Best of luck!

  4. August 7, 2015 / 14:28

    Thanks, I'll be trying this out this weekend! I have a couch that one or maybe all 3 of my cats love to scratch…

    • August 9, 2015 / 08:15

      Oh, good luck Sami! We used to have 3 cats so I know all too well how much tougher it is to keep on top of. I hope it works out well for you. Do let me know 🙂

  5. September 3, 2016 / 02:11

    Would this work on a leather couch that's not black? It's more of a blue

  6. Anonymous
    March 28, 2017 / 12:44

    Great idea clear and excellent result thank you!

  7. Paula Minix
    February 8, 2020 / 09:55

    Can you add a link to the shoe polish brand you used?