Removing Cat Scratches

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It can be very frustrating to find cat scratches on the dining table or the pricey leather sofa. But claw marks don’t mean your favorite furniture is ruined. Light scratches might only require a good buffing to remove them. Even deeper gouges can be improved with some basic household and hardware store supplies (and a little patience). Keep in mind that the most successful method depends on both the depth of the scratch and the type of surface. The following steps will help remove several types of cat scratches.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood or leather cleaner
  • Soft cloths
  • Wood polish
  • Walnut
  • Felt-tip marker
  • Wood filler
  • Wax stick
  • Spatula or credit card
  • Very fine steel wool (grade 0000)
  • Olive oil
  • Shoe polish
  • Hair dryer
  • Gently clean the scratched area. For wood furniture or floors, apply your regular wood cleaner with a soft cloth and wipe clean. For leather, use leather cleaner or a cloth dampened with water.

  • Remove faint wood scratches by gently buffing the marks with a wood polish in a color as close as possible to the wood. Start out by dabbing just a small amount of compound onto a corner of a cloth, and increase slowly as needed to prevent the rubbed area from becoming too visible. You may need to repeat the buffing action on the entire surface to ensure the finish does not look uneven.

  • Consider filling them if the scratches are too deep to polish out. The most natural method is to break a walnut in half and rub the meat over the scratch, according to “Good Housekeeping.” After using the walnut, rub the area with your finger to distribute the nut’s oil, which can fill in and decrease the appearance of scratches.

  • Use a felt-tip marker in a color that closely matches the wood. Just make sure to apply sparingly, and immediately wipe away. Another option is a tinted wood filler or wax stick, available at most hardware stores. Rub the filler into the scratch with a cloth, level it off with a spatula or credit card and wipe clean.

  • Try gently buffing them with very fine steel wool in the direction of the grain if pet scratches are still visible on an unfinished or lightly finished surface. Check the area often as you buff to make sure you aren’t scratching the surface. After sanding, clean the area with a cloth.

  • Use a cloth to dab a small amount of olive oil into scratches on leather furniture. Lightly buff and towel off with a separate damp cloth. Another option for dark leather is to apply a shoe polish in the same color as the furniture. Rub a drop of polish into the scratch with a cotton swab and then towel off. Repeat as necessary, using a hair dryer on a low setting to speed drying between coats.

Tips & Warnings

  • Manufacturers like Soft Paws make soft plastic caps you can put on you cat’s claws to prevent scratching (see Resources below).
  • Make sure to keep your cats away from the treated scratches until the areas have been cleaned. Do not use toxic products around pets.
  • Always read manufacturer's instructions to make sure a product is suitable for your furniture or floor.
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