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Pet Connection Q&A: Will cats scratch a leather couch?

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 7D

We're considering purchasing a leather couch. We have two indoor cats that have completely destroyed our fabric couch. We have given them a scratch post recently, and although they use it, they still use the couch. We do not deter them from using the fabric couch.

In regard to the leather couch, we have heard that cats don't like leather and won't scratch it. But before we shell out the money for an expensive piece of furniture, I wanted your opinion.

– M.B., via email

While it's true that cats prefer fabrics, especially those with a coarse woven texture, I wouldn't bet the farm on them not touching the new leather couch. Before you make such a huge investment, make a determined effort to convert your cats to using the scratching post.

First, make sure the post is adequate. I recommend a cat tree rather than a scratching post. Trees are taller, less likely to fall over, and offer room for two or more cats to scratch, play and nap. The cover should be a loose-weave fabric or a rough rope, like sisal.

Then make your current, old couch less attractive to scratching. Cover all the areas on the furniture where your cats love to scratch with something they'll hate to touch – the sticky side of shelf-lining contact paper. Secure the sheets (sticky side out) to the scratched areas with double-sided tape. Don't scrimp: Go for full coverage!

Next, move the scratching post beside your cats' most popular part of the couch. The idea is to give them a nearby alternative to putting their paws on their former scratching post – your old couch. Play games with your cats on the post, and give them food and treats for scratching in an appropriate place.

Be patient, since cats aren't keen on change. Once you notice your cats using the post (and not using the booby-trapped couch), you can very slowly – like, a couple feet a week – move the post to a less- prominent part of the room. But don't move it so far away that your cats lose interest.

When you get your new couch, you can booby-trap it without marring the leather by mounting the sticky paper to sheets of cardboard and leaning them against the sides, corners and back of the new couch. The cardboard is to keep the cats from trying out the new couch, and it can come down once you observe that the cat post is getting all the action.

– Gina Spadafori

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