Get Down! Cats on Counters

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November 19, 2010
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Cats who jump on counters put themselves at risk of getting hurt. What if they jump on a hot stove? What if they jump and land on a knife? Cats love to jump and find high places to sit and watch the world. They love being on things that give them a good point of view of the world around them and can place them at eye level with their human companions.

But cats on counters is no good for us. We don’t want cat hair in our coffee or a cat stealing some food that we are prepping. Cats can’t be trained the same way dogs can but there are some things we can do to reinforce that jumping on the counters is not acceptable.

1: Deter your cat with a loud noise as soon as you seem him land on the counter or even when he’s in his crouching position about to spring up. It’s important to disassociate yourself from the noise. Cats will begin to understand that doing a certain action such as jumping on a counter can bring on a noise they find unpleasant like rattling of pennies in a can or a loud banging noise. They don’t like loud noises and will soon learn to avoid the behavior that sets it off.

2: For the times you’re not home and you know your cat has been on the counter you can place items on the counter that will make it unpleasant for him to be on there. Double-sided tape along the edge of the counter and aluminum foil should do the trick. No cat likes sticky feet and they all seem to hate the noise aluminum foil makes. A smart cat might find a way to knock the foil down and stride over the tape though, so try to place the foil down with some of it under something like the coffee maker, toaster oven, or taped.

3: When you are home, if your cat doesn’t care about the loud noise, a spray bottle of water can work but you have be fast, have a steady shot, and be consistent. Don’t spray them in the face or head, a squirt into the side often makes a cat jump down and scoot away. Some cats are bold and will stand there giving you a dirty look and not move. You may have to try a combo of negative reinforcements to figure out what works best for your cat.

4: Invest in a cat scratching post with shelves that your cat can jump on and positively reinforce the use of it by giving him treats on the shelves. Redirect him to jump on this instead of your counters. Window seats that you can place on the sills also can help and be a more attractive to your cat. They can look outside or sun themselves and that is often more interesting than sitting on a counter and staring at you. Praise your cat when you see him on these surfaces so he understands that these are ok places for him to hang out.

Be patient. Cats can be stubborn as well as cute.

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