Asked on Oct 26, 2014

Please help me fix my couch

by Letty
We recently bought leather couches. The tag said genuine leather, but it is an extremely thin layer. We were then given a kitten that used it one night as a scratching post. Now the whole thing is peeling off leaving blackish spots everywhere. The backrest is peeling. The armrests are peeling. Don't know how to fix it.
1. Should I somehow stop the peeling and then find a way to paint the spots?
2. Should I just tear out all the leather and end up with a black fabric couch instead?
3. Should I somehow paint the black couch?
4. Is the only solution to reupholster it?
Please help!!!
Backrest of couch peeling off.
Armrest of couch starting to peel off. Help!!
  21 answers
  • Linda Linda on Oct 27, 2014
    Depending on how "recently" you bought this furniture, I would talk to the store and ask them what options I have as to returning it or having it repaired. Real leather does not peel like this.
  • Le' Le' on Oct 27, 2014
    Buy a new couch.
  • Devon Cretella Devon Cretella on Oct 27, 2014
    Linda is right. We have had a leather couch for over 20 years and it looks as good or even better than the day it was delivered. Real leather should age well.
  • Bridget Kik Bridget Kik on Oct 27, 2014
    wow who has not gone through cat did exactly the same and my suite was thick is a hint to tell how thick leather is...OK its embarrasing and can make you look a complete idiot in the shop but if you can wait until no one is looking find a seam or fold and try and bite through it with your eye teeth - if you teeth go through, its either not leather or its so think its just a veneer.....I know it sounds crazy but I used to work in a bike shop so I know leather. In this case....maybe wait until kitty has outgrown this habit then buy a new couch.
  • Letty Letty on Oct 27, 2014
    Thank you all for your comments. I bought the couch a few months back and returning it will probably not work. I wish I had known about biting the seam. Would have saved us a lot of trouble now. Very disappointed with the leather tag if it's really not leather tough. Upholstery it is. Thank you all for your advises.
  • Doris Doris on Oct 27, 2014
    Go to and order the suede-look covers in a color you want, they're washable poly and they stretch to fit. At least until kitten has learned to control itself.
  • Comet Comet on Oct 27, 2014
    There is a way for you to TELL if it is real leather vs the fake layered plastic stuff---which it looks like you have there (we had a similar couch and the same thing happened) Take a few pieces of the flaking part ---the bigger the better---and take them OUTSIDE. Place them in a metal container---even a jar lid with NO liner would work or even a brick or something---just to keep it off anything flammable. Then light the flakes on fire. Then blow them OUT and smell the SMOKE. IF the flakes smell like burning HAIR---then it IS leather. If they smell like burning PLASTIC=that icky almost sweet and acrid smell---this is plastic ( Poly Urethane or Poly Vinyl Chloride) and the store and the maker are adertising FAKE "pleather" as the real deal. (If you have never smelled plastic burning--take a yogurt lid or similar and test that first so you will know what to look for) If the leather is real I would still go back to the store and take a cushion or lots of pictures with you; They SHOULD stand behind their products and there might be some sort of warranty. Even "split leather" is NOT that thin---it's a term for splitting a hide and the finished pieces are NOT paper thin; "bonded" means it was glued to a fabric or non-woven backing sheet. It there is evidence that this is NOT leather I would contact the store AND I would contact your State's Dept of Consumer Protection. Make SURE you have that tag!!!! This is actually a big deal--not to mention false advertising---and your State Attorney General's Office will want to know. IF this IS leather---and if for some reason you still can't TELL after the smell test---take a cushion to a DRY CLEANER or a SHOE REPAIR place and let them look at it. If you feel that you spent a lot of money for a badly made product OR were made to think the item was one material but it was NOT--then you should also call whatever local or area NEWS MEDIA that covers Consumer Issues---some news papers have these reporters or most TV stations have them---they will look into it for you and try and get the store to back up their products. You should NOT have to spend thousands of dollars to have this re-done because their product was shoddy. IF you used your CHARGE CARD to pay for this--CALL the company right away and file a COMPLAINT against the store. They will hold the $$$ til the case is closed. They can often get your money BACK if there is fraud involved.
  • Letty Letty on Oct 28, 2014
    Thanks for the tip Doris and the web link. I checked out the website. I found one for my chair, but nothing for the couch. Our couch is a double recliner and I couldn't see a cover that was split in half. Also the cushions are not detachable. I did see the pet covers which I think I might be able to make two chair for the couch. I don't know, maybe I'll try it. Cheaper than getting them reupholstered. Thank you very much for your input.
  • Nita Nita on Oct 28, 2014
    If you put a slipcover over it Kitty will tear that up also. Go buy a pretty quilt and throw it over it, buy a king size quilt. You can find one at a good price a one of the garden store's. After kitty grows up you can upholster or get a new couch.
  • Christine Jess Danbrook Christine Jess Danbrook on Oct 28, 2014
    This is not real leather, it's a product that is manufactured to look like leather, they call it pleather. You should go back to the store you bought it from and demand a replacement .
  • Mina McWhorter Mina McWhorter on Oct 28, 2014
    I had this same issue with a 'real leather' sofa and love seat only without the cat. I trashed it and bought a microfiber set that is so much better and tougher for the cat or my dogs to tear up.
  • Letty Letty on Oct 28, 2014
    Thank you for your comments. I'm definitely learning a lot for next time I buy anything that we want to be leather.
  • Letty Letty on Oct 28, 2014
    Thank you comet for your detailed explanations. Comet, I did the burn test and it smells like burnt leather and not plastic. Have contacted the store (did not mention the cat) but they said they can not do anything because they did not deliver. Really? Had nothing to do with delivery but since I wouldn't pay the extra $140 to deliver because we live too far and we already had our truck with trailer there, we voided any kind of warranty, etc. I do not have a receipt or the tags to contact the company directly. I will be covering it up with pet protector covers from until we can replace or reupholster. Thank you very much for great explanations.
    • See 1 previous
    • Rita Leaf Rita Leaf on Nov 01, 2014
      @Shari Thank you Shari for all this information. The couch I purchased did the same thing and the furniture store would not do anything, neither would Ashley Furniture. This is valuable info that everyone needs to know. Thanks so much.
  • Nita Nita on Oct 29, 2014
    Letty I am sure you paid with Debit or Credit card there is your receipt , as for not having it delivered and voiding the warranty that is bs , fight them don't give in . Call the home office of the store you bought it from. Call the store owner. You have proof of when you bought it don't let them do this to you.
  • Colleen Colleen on Oct 29, 2014
    Whatever it's covered with, it's not leather, that much is clear. The deterioration of the fabric appears, from your photos and description, to also go beyond what the cat started. I am with everyone else who thinks you should fight this tooth and nail. You can get this resolved if you make a big enough stink. The store that sold it to you is likely banking on you just quietly going away. Refuse to do that. As others have suggested, go to the manufacturer, the Better Business Bureau, your local consumer watchdog group/media outlet....whatever it takes. Best of luck if you go that route! Otherwise, I would go the slipcover route. The furniture is obviously not going to be of a quality worth the cost of recovering and I can't imagine any type of 'fix' that would work on the fabric, either :( But there are obviously a lot of creative geniuses on Hometalk - hopefully someone has a brilliant idea for you :-)
  • Cindy Richmond Cindy Richmond on Oct 29, 2014
    Guess what - cats don't usually 'outgrow' this habit of scratching, it's part of their natural instinct. Some scratch more than others, but don't expect that the kitty will stop. Just one of the fun facts of owning a cat! Unfortunately:(
    • H. Allender H. Allender on Jan 07, 2020

      Thank you for educating those who think a kitten will outgrow their scratching habit, or that kittens will somehow just learn to not scratch a sofa. Scratching is a natural behavior for all cats, regardless of age, gender, or breed; it's part of their need to keep their claws sharp and is one method of marking their territory (just like rubbing their noses and whiskers on things or even similar to spraying). You have to provide things, like scratching posts, for them to scratch on and place these near whatever the cat is not supposed to scratch on. You have to train them to use the scratching post by sprinkling catnip or taking them to the approved scratching item and gently take their paws and rub them over the item. Sounds weird, I know, but it works.

  • Letty Letty on Oct 29, 2014
    Wow. I was planning on just giving up. But, you all have wired me all up. Heading out to talk to someone else at the store. If I'm not mistaken, we paid cash (had just sold something and used that money). It's a small family owned furniture place. No headquarters to contact. They remember me because of the refusal to pay delivery. Now I know to use a card in the future. I'll go talk to the sales lady and owner and see where that goes. Thanks for the encouragement. Go! Fight! Win!
  • Letty Letty on Oct 29, 2014
    Well, not so much win :-(. Spoke to the manager directly. They are an Ashley Furniture dealer. She looked up my contract to see what I had bought. She explained that there are different grades of leathers and that my couches were leather, but the lowest grade, mostly like powder leather sprayed on (is what I understood). She still called the Ashley's to see what could be done. Turns out, they do have a warranty of 12 months and I've owned them longer than that. Ashley's also argued that it was leather, just not the best quality. So back to square one. Guess I will be making a purchase from SureFit.
  • Julia houzenga Julia houzenga on Oct 30, 2014
    2 yrs ago we bought 2 lazy boy recliners 6.hundred a pc in 6mos the back on head rest the color came off. the store said it was due to blood meds. our daughter in law said the was the crazys thing she ever heard so she called the lazy boy company they gave the same story. i will never shop at that store again or buy lazyboy again
  • Letty Letty on Oct 30, 2014
    Blood meds? That is crazy! Thanks for the warning. No LazyBoys.
  • Anny Palanzi Anny Palanzi on Jan 16, 2015
    The type of leather on this couch is called bonded is real leather but instead of it being a solid piece from topside to underside, they bond a thin piece of leather to a fabric on the underside...Does that make any sense to you? I had a couch like that for a few years and the leather part started to wear thin, showing the bonding material. I love the smell of leather and it took me about 2 weeks to realize I couldn't smell it. Sooo, I put my nose right down to the arm of the couch an sniffed really hard, THEN I smelled the leather. It's just too bad your kitty had to make it all broken in for you long before it's time.