How to repair dog and cat scratches on leather upholstery?

When it comes to leather scratch repair, let your fingers be the judge. If you can feel the damage caused by your dog or cat, they’re best repaired. Start minimally, and know that you can always rework a repair.

Click here for repairing cat scratches.
Click here for repairing dog scratches.

Leather Cat Scratch Repair

Cat scratches and nicks on real leather are easily repaired with little more than super glue and sandpaper as demonstrated in this video:

Video contents:

  • 0:33 – Using super glue and a toothpick to tack down little flaps
  • 1:55 – Sanding with 320 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper
  • 2:04 – More super glue on flaps and gouges
  • 2:17 – More sanding
  • 2:35 – Color, dry, and reassess
  • 3:12 – More glue to fill gouges, feathering and texturizing with a paper towel
  • 3:52 – Sanding with a finer 500 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper
  • 4:40 – Color and dry
  • 5:04 – Stippling the color to get a better finish and hide streaks
  • 5:24 – Before and after comparison

Unfortunately this is not the case for vinyl, bonded or faux leathers. Synthetics should be repaired with a flexible filler using these instructions.

More severe ‘scratching post’ damage is also best repaired in this fashion.

Use scissors or an electric razor to trim away any remaining shredded or flappy fibers so the surface is as level as possible before applying leather filler.

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Please do not declaw your feline! 

This procedure is amputation of the bone to the last knuckle, not mere removal of the nail. Onychectomy is banned in many countries and opposed by the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Declawing can decrease use of a litter box and increase biting. Cats are smart creatures and can be easily trained with a spray bottle of water (set on shoot-to-soak) and pheromone sprays. Give them a scratching post where they can engage in their natural behavior. You can also trim their claws with pet nail clippers. Others report success using Soft Paws or other claw caps.

Repairing Dog Scratches

Dog scratches are often superficial. If the damage cannot be felt with a fingertip, then it is easily concealed with a new finish. However, if the leather is scaly, chafed or shaggy suede is exposed, it should be resurfaced with leather filler putty as demonstrated at minute 8:00 here.

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9 comments

  1. I have a large scale hunter (dark) green sofa, love seat, wide chair and ottoman. They are very soft and comfy but I think would work as I see similar styles in your before and after gallery. I’m thinking Taupe — will that cover OK? Also have cat scratches and a few pin holes from back claws climbing up the arms. Assume your filler will take care of that as directed?

    Thanks in advance. This may be the perfect short term fix until I move in a couple of years.

    Reply
    • Any holes need to be subpatched before repair. We’d need you to submit photos in the evaluation for us to advise you better. Color changes are inherently more maintenance and not recommended if the leather is already rather worn and dogs will continue to use the piece(s).

      Reply
  2. Great video/tutorial. My main question is, after the final coat of restorer, the leather looked quite different(flat finish) as compared to the rest of the couch(semi-glossy).

    Will your product buff out by hand with a terry cloth towel or a car buffer? How long to wait after application before buffing?

    Reply
    • Buffing with a dry rag (and use) will slightly polish the color. But for a semi-gloss finish, sounds like you need some Clear Prep+Finish. I’d mix it with equal parts color and use to add luster and blend surrounding areas.

      Reply
  3. Can your product be used successfully without having to repaint or try to match color.? Leather chair is mauvish/pinkish. Cat scratched.

    Reply

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