You know that having cats in your home is not necessarily ideal. It has its drawbacks …
Among the problems of living with them is their ugly habit of climbing on kitchen countertops.
This can be a problem because you don’t want the countertop to be full of your pet’s footprints, or worse, the food to be covered with its hair.
You also want to avoid dangerous things for your cat like knives, foods that are toxic (to cats) and hot objects like pans and pots.
So you want to know why they do it? What are the alternatives? And what to do to keep your cat off the kitchen counter?
Reasons why cats climb to countertops
Cats jump on kitchen counters and tables for a number of reasons, and not just because they know you won’t like it. These may be some of the reasons:
- Cats like to be in high places. It allows them to feel safe, and they love to see things happening under them.
- Countertops can provide window views. Cats love to look out of windows, contemplating what is going on outside. If your countertop allows your cat to look out the window, it can motivate him to like being there.
- Cats are just curious. Your partner probably does not like to be excluded, surely he likes to know everything that happens in his territory. Countertops are no exception – you’ll want to see what’s going on there periodically.
- There are good smells on the kitchen countertops. The lovely smells that come out of them are sure to entice your cat to jump up and check things out. And if you have found something delicious you can nibble on it.
- We spend a lot of time working on the kitchen counters. Cats love being with their human companions, and we spend a lot of time in the kitchen, using the countertops. If your cat likes to jump up and be with you while you’re cutting and skipping food, it’s because he loves you.
- On the countertops there are taps with water. Maybe they hear running water in the kitchen sink and want to drink running water from the tap, you know how special they are with the water they drink.
While these are all understandable reasons for cats to want to be on our kitchen counters, it is important for their safety and the cleanliness of our food preparation area to train them to stay downstairs.
Strategies to change this behavior
Each cat has its own personality, so behavior modification strategies that work for one cat may not work for another. You may need to try more than one method until you find one that is successful. In many cases, putting the cat back on the ground with a firm “No” will suffice. Do not yell or hit your cat, as this will not have any positive effect on his behavior, other than making your beloved cat start avoiding you. To avoid falls and injuries, do not push or throw your cat off the kitchen counter.
Use a repellent to keep your cat off the kitchen counter
The best way to keep cats off countertops is to use repellent. It is much better than pouring water or yelling at your cat because, depending on its ingredients, repellent has two important characteristics. (1) It is consistent, which will make your cat learn faster. (2) It works regardless of your presence, which will save your relationship.
Not all cat repellants work the same way or are equally effective. Here is a list of the most successful repellants for keeping cats off the counters :
- Motion Activated Pet Deterrents. It is a battery operated sensor spray for cats that detects movement and releases a blast of air every time a cat approaches. It is not harmful, but it causes fear to cats. Best of all, this appliance provides consistency, working every time your cat gets on the counter. Very soon he won’t even try to get close.
- Double sided tape. By sticking it on a counter, it creates a sticky surface that most cats don’t like to walk on. This works quite well to repel cats if used correctly. The downside is that you have to figure out which parts of the countertop your cat jumps to (he can’t really cover the entire counter with the duct tape), it has to be put on and removed several times a day. It may, depending on the brand, sticky stains may remain after it is removed.
- Clap your hands loudly and say “NO” out loud. If you see your cat jump, clap your hands loudly and say “NO” firmly. Take it and put it in a more suitable place, praise it once it is there or when it jumps with the order.
- Aluminum foil. It is something that cats do not like to step on because walking on it creates a sound that they do not like and scare. The hardest part is placing the sheet in a place where the cat jumps and also being able to hold it (a small strip of masking tape will help). Unlike double-sided tape, it is much easier to set up and remove when not needed.
- Citrus peels. Do you eat lemons and oranges? Their shells are great deterrents for cats. Unfortunately, citrus peels dry out quickly and become ineffective, usually within a few hours.
- Place cans. Another technique is to fill a can with noisemakers (marbles, rocks, coins) and place it on the edge of the kitchen counter. The idea is that when your cat jumps, it will knock the can down and the noise will scare it off. In real life, it is very difficult to place a can, so the cat will definitely knock it down, but nothing prevents it from returning a minute later.
Distract your cat when he tries to jump on the counter
After listing what can be unpleasant for your cat, it is time to improve and reinforce positive behavior in your cat. Nobody likes to be scared, right? So here is what you can do.
As soon as you notice your cat approaching the counter, distract him. You can throw a toy or kibble in the opposite direction, or you can call your cat. Take care of him, give him a treat, or play with him if he responds. This way you reward him for his good behavior.
Provides an alternative to the countertop
Cats love heights, which is one of the main reasons they want to be on the counters. That said, you know that your cat needs to be high up. It’s actually a necessity and if you think kitchen countertops are not an option (which is fine), you should think of somewhere else that will serve this purpose.
How about a cat tree in the kitchen? Place it in the kitchen so your cat can see what you are doing on the counter, but not where he can use it as a stepping stone to the counter. It may not keep your cat off the counter entirely, but it will make things a lot easier and less stressful for your cat.
Other options may include installing shelves appropriate for your cat’s weight or a window perch in places where your cat spends his time. Our house has all three. Window sills are wide enough for cats to jump on; we have several cat trees in different locations, and we also have shelves that form passages from one cat tree to another without them having to descend to the floor. Cats love it.
Avoid what might motivate your cat to jump
Cats generally jump on the counter because they know there must be something compelling there . In most cases, it is food left on the countertops, but cats may be interested in other things as well: an outside view, running water from the tap, a plant on the counter, possible communication with you, and (as mentioned above) a top view of your apartment.
Maybe you should stop keeping food on the counter when you’re out and about. Put it in a fridge or closet. Some people enjoy how their cat plays with the tap water, but they get upset if the cat jumps on the counter at other times. If that’s the case, you must choose between letting your cat play with the water or keeping it off the counter. It can not be both.
Whatever the reason, simple observations can show you what your cat is doing there. Once you know what interests you, you should be able to think of a solution. Sooner or later, if a cat jumps up on the counter and can’t find what it’s looking for, it will stop.
The last tip is to spend some quality time with your cat and make his surroundings more attractive to him.
There are many cases of cats misbehaving out of boredom. It is often said that they do it because they are cats, and cats do what they like. That’s true, but we can look at this statement in a different way: if a cat doesn’t have a lot of things that it likes to do, then it will find something that it does like. Maybe it’s time to find something that you and your cat like and do it. This, in turn, will keep your cat off the kitchen counter without too much trouble.
Conclusion. When training your cat to stay away from kitchen counters, it is important that you be patient, loving, and understanding. Treating your cat in a harsh or angry way is not fair because he is just being a cat, and it could put stress on him that could lead to other undesirable behaviors. You may not be able to stop your cat from jumping on counters in 1 day, but if you are consistent and attentive to meeting your cat’s needs and desires, the results are sure to be a happier cat.
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