Training Your Cat To Stay Off The Kitchen Counter

Cats jumping on counters. It's one of the things many cat owners dislike and why some people don't have cats. Many people believe that there's no way to keep cats off counters and tables. But that isn't really true. Cats can be trained to stay off your counters.

Why Do Cats Like to Jump on Counters?cat_kitchen_counter

There are a few reasons why cats like to jump onto counters. They include:

Why Do Cats Like to Jump on Kitchen Counters Specifically?

OK, so you can see that being high up in general is appealing to cats, but why is it so common for them to like to spend time on kitchen counters in particular?

These are the most common reasons; some less common ones are discussed further down.

Reasons You Might Not Want Your Kitty on the Counter

Though it might seem like less trouble and fairly harmless just to allow your cat to be on the kitchen counter, there are important reasons to put a stop to the behavior, including:

Seek a Win-Win Solution

Think of your strategy for keeping your cat off the counter this way:

To borrow cat expert and author Pam Johnson-Bennett’s terms, combine deterrence with positive redirection. Don’t just say “no” to your kitty; also give her an option to which she’ll gladly say “yes.” With this approach, both of you will be satisfied.

Positive Alternatives to the Counter for Your Cat

Let’s focus on the positive part of the strategy first—making sure that your kitty has options besides the kitchen counter that meet her need to be on elevated surfaces and her desire to spend time with her human family members when they’re in the kitchen.

Cats live in three dimensions.

Unlike cats, humans aren't always jumping and climbing; usually our feet are on or near the ground. Appropriate some of the under-used vertical space in your shared abode—the area from about from three feet high to the ceiling—for your kitty’s need to be elevated (physically, that is; she’s already worshipped).

You can create makeshift perches and ledges on the cheap:

Keep in mind that your cat is going to lobby—perhaps persistently—to use this “prime real estate” anyway. Cats are strongly motivated to reach higher-than-ground-level spots, especially ones with a view, and they get frustrated—and usually act out their frustrations—if that core need is not met.

Specially Designed Cat Furniture May Have Many Benefits and Can Be a Long-Term Bargain

A multi-level cat tree is custom-made to satisfy a cat's need to reach higher ground and hang out there. A well-built one, with a wide sturdy base, lasts many years and typically provides scratching, playing, snoozing, and perching opportunities. Buy a cat tree with perching shelves that are big enough to allow your kitty to sprawl and take a snooze. Many cats like a low-sided wall around their perching platforms, for a feeling of extra snugness and confidence that they won't fall off.

A cat tree is your kitty’s own space, and it often becomes one of her favorite places in which to spend time.

Mutually Acceptable Ways that Your Kitty Can Keep You Company When You’re in the Kitchen

OK, you’ve got cat trees and other elevated platforms throughout the house, and they all have perfect views for cats – and your cat uses them. But being sociable and curious, she wants to be with you when you’re in the kitchen. For these occasions, provide your kitty with spots other than the counter in which she feels close to you.

Deterrents for Cats That Climb on Counters

In addition to supplying your kitty with appealing alternatives to the counter, make the counter a distinctly un-fun place to be from her viewpoint. Another Pam Johnson-Bennett concept is the "Least Invasive, Minimal Aversive" or LIMA approach. In short, when it comes to deterrents, use the gentlest solution that works. With that in mind, here are deterrent measures listed in approximate order of increasing invasiveness.

Tips on Using Deterrents

When it comes to using deterrents for cats, there are some things to remember.

General Tips for Cats That Jump on Kitchen Counters

Special Cases

Scenario: Your cat is using the counter as a safe getaway. If your kitty is being chased by a dog or a child, she may seek the counter as place to escape the harassment.

Solution: Provide adequate vertical escape routes (as well as horizontal ones, such as an interior cat door that leads to a safe room) for your cat, and don’t leave your cat with a child or dog who chases her in the same room without responsible human supervision.

Scenario: Your cat goes up on the counter because there aren’t enough (desirable) elevated spaces in a multi-cat household.

Solution: Provide more than enough prime perching (and scratching!) spots, at multiple levels, throughout your home, to support the various preferences of the cats.

Scenario: Your cat only jumps onto the counter when there's food on it and goes right to the food as if she's ravenous. This could be a sign of hyperthyroidism or other health problem.

Solution: Consult with your veterinarian about any suspicious or markedly changed behavior in your cat.

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