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Cats are naturally curious and jumping on kitchen counters (or counter-surfing) is a common behavioural problem. So, why do they do it? What are the alternatives? And, what measures can you take to keep your cat off the kitchen counter?
What’s the Attraction?
Cats jump onto kitchen counters and tables for a number of reasons and not just because they know you won’t like it. In most cases they are simply trying to see what you are up to, or they may be curious about the delicious odours wafting down and jump up in the hope of a taste of what you’re having. Maybe they can hear running water in the kitchen sink, and want to drink fresh running water from the tap. Perhaps there are birds outside the kitchen window, teasing them to come closer; or they just want some love and affection from you, especially if you’ve been out at work all day.
Understanding the Problem is Half the Solution
If your cat is enticed by the sound of running water, why not consider installing a pet water drinking fountain in your home. If the attraction is the thrill of climbing and a high vantage point to survey what is happening at your place you may need to invest in a cat tower. If the birds outside the window are the fascination, why not hang a bird feeder outside another window so that your cat can view the birds away from the dangers of hot plates and sharp knives.
Behaviour Changing Strategies
All cats have different personalities, so behaviour modification strategies that work for one cat may not work for another. You may need to try a variety of different methods until you find one that is successful. In many cases putting the cat back onto the floor with a firm “No” will be enough. Do not yell or hit your cat, as this will have no effect on their behaviour other than making your beloved cat start to avoid you. To avoid falls and injury, do not shoo or push your cat off the kitchen counter either.
Besides reprimanding your cat in a stern ‘no-nonsense’ voice, there are a number of other ways to keep your cat off the kitchen counter.
- Coins or pebbles in a can – shake the can loudly when you see your cat jump on the counter. Alternatively, line the cans strategically so they can be easily knocked off when your cat jumps. Clapping your hands also works as a noise deterrent.
- Hiss like a cat – Just like a ‘mama cat’ would reprimand her kittens, you can voice your authority by making hissing or spitting noises. Speaking from experience, if you can avoid laughing while you are doing this, you’ll have a much better chance at success.
- Double-sided tape – cats hate having sticky paws so placing double-sided adhesive tape on your counters acts as an effective deterrent.
- Spray bottle – a quick squirt with a water spray bottle may do the trick in getting your cat off the kitchen counter, although admittedly it has never worked for mine.
- Aluminum foil – cats dislike the noise so placing a sheet of aluminum foil on the counter may also work.
- Commercial products – there are a number of products and devices on the market, but please be careful when using commercial products particularly if there is any chance your cat could be physically harmed. You want to make the kitchen counter uncomfortable for your cat – you don’t want to physically harm your cat or make an already nervous or skittish cat even more frightened.
Remember that cats are intelligent and persistent creatures so whatever behaviour modification technique you use will need to be applied consistently. Also bear in mind that no amount of training will stop a cat jumping onto the kitchen counter if it knows there is a reward to be had – so remove dirty dishes from the kitchen counter straight after a meal and put any left-over food away in sealed containers.
Do you have a counter-surfing kitty? What do you do to keep your cat off the kitchen counter?
Angela Miller says
I have literally tried all of these things to keep my cat masters off of the counter, except for the pebbles or coins in a can method. But nothing worked for long or for all of my cats. Even bought a motion activated pet repellent spray called PetSafe SSSCAT Spray Dog and Cat Deterrent from Amazon, but after maybe a few months it stopped working right. Of course by then it was too late to use the warranty, lol. I think I will give that noisy can method a try. Won’t hurt to try, anyways. Thank you for this blog article! ❤️
Thanks for the tips 🙂
As you mentioned about using a pet water drinking fountain….. they still prefer the kitchen counter, waiting for the water to start running 😀
I found that the spray bottles of water worked wonders. I bought a dozen brightly colored ones at the dollar store, filled them with water & set them on the edges of counters & tables, etc., facing outward, wherever I don’t want our curious cat to go — even on the corners of the dining table, especially while we’re eating meals. She knows Exactly what they are now & avoids them like the plague! And, I rarely need to use one any more. 🤗
I should also say that she has a nice big picture window in the living room, for her enjoyment! 😉
Another epically epic post guys, our newbie Fudge is a counter lurker and a water fiend. He has a water fountain but still he’s fascinated by the tap, the shower, the pond, the sprinkler etc… MOL
Did we effur tell mew that we think your blog is fabulous, if not we are now, we love your blog, it’s fabulous!
A high stool that lets them sit and watch is great, too. They just want to help us with everything we do.
Our kitties are serious counter surfers. It wasn’t too big of a deal until recently when they started brazenly stealing food being prepared! We need to try some of your suggestions because setting them back on the floor with a firm “NO” is not working for us!
Kitty Cat Chronicles says
We are notorious counter surfers. We try to find every crumb or food morsel possible! When Mom and Dad are cooking, they have to put us in another room with the door closed, or else we will jump up on the counter and eat all the food! They have tried the spray bottle, and that worked for a little bit, but then we stopped caring about that. Great, now she has MORE ideas of things to try!!
I doubt we could ever get my cat bro Bert to get off the counters. He jumps up when Mom is cooking and tries to steal right out of her hands. He also is not afraid to jump onto the table during a meal. He is seriously naughty. No, he is not starved. He gets his food, but he just wants to eat all the time.
Fur Everywhere says
I don’t mind if Carmine is on the counter as long as I’m not cooking. Fortunately, he never gets up there when I’m trying to prepare food. 🙂
These are good tips for making the counter uncomfortable for your kitty. I’d also suggest giving your kitty a reward when he sits on the floor rather than getting up on the counter. That way, he’ll realize he will get rewarded for staying off the counter, too. 🙂
Angela Miller says
Good idea! ❤️
Abby Chesnut says
Oh man, Mr. KItty loves to get on the counter. It’s mostly because he wants to see what you are doing. I’ve had to put him down and say “no” multiple times in a row, lol. Lately he has done it whenever a dog is nearby and he wants to make an escape. Can’t blame him!
Carol Bryant says
I had a Cocker who loved to table surf – LOL. These are fab tips and I will share with my cat moms and dads.
Jodi Jarvis-Therrian says
My Raven was easy peasy, one or two no’s and she is perfect ! But thank you so much for this info I will store the info for future kitties 🙂
Sweet Purrfections says
I have a small kitchen with very little counter space. There is so much stuff on the counters that there is no room for the girls to jump on the counter. LOL
Bernard Lima-Chavez says
OMD! I totally needed these tips. I may be a dog blogger but I have more cats than dogs. Two in particular refuse to stay off the counter. Thank you!
I hear a lot of people saying they have this problem with their cat. Finding proper behavioral solutions is so important. I love that you emphasize meeting the need that your cat has (running water, seeing things for a higher POV, etc). Having both sides happy is the goal. 🙂
Rascal and Rocco says
My family always used a spray bottle and it worked quickly. I never thought I would let cats on my counter, however, the floor has become the domain of dogs and kids, so where else is a kitty to go?
Cathy Armato says
Awesome tips Tracy! My cat drove me nuts always trying to get to higher ground, until I placed a tall bench at the window & voila! problem solved! Such beautiful kitty photos! Sharing these tips
I gave up and put a box in the counter for him to sit on. At least he’s only on one spot on the counter now. =/
Ive tried the double sided sticky tape… and one of my cats has eaten through alfoil to get to food, so I’m glad to see other ideas! Ill try some of these, one has to work…