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?