If you think dogs are experts at counter surfing then you probably haven’t dealt with a cat. These furry ninjas can leap, slide, and snatch anything from virtually any counter or appliance in your home. No shelf is too high and nothing is seemingly beyond their reach. The top of the refrigerator, climbing the drapes, swinging from a shower curtain – we’ve seen it all!
Since cats are typically lightweight, at least compared to dogs, they can jump on things that your dogs can only dream about. Add to this fact that cats are fearless and they have phenomenal jumping abilities and, well, you can see the problem.
Despite their dexterity and jumping ability, it can be dangerous for your cat to jump on counters, tables, and other places in your kitchen. For example, your cat could jump on the stove when it’s hot and burn himself.
There are some ways to discourage your cat from jumping on counters (and stoves). Ideally with cats it’s best to use “remote” corrections. This way your cat doesn’t know where the correction comes from. He only knows that when he does something he’s not supposed to do, something negative occurs. This should dissuade him from doing it again without associating it with you. This can prevent your cat from doing naughty things to get attention or waiting until you aren’t around to do bad things.
For example, if you see your cat starting to jump on the counter, you can toss a soda can with some coins inside it (tape the opening closed) toward your cat. You don’t want to hit your cat with the can! The goal is to rattle the can with the coins so the noise will startle him. (This method is often used to distract dogs when they are doing something undesirable, too.) Distracting your cat with the noise usually works fine when you are present but, of course, you can’t always be in the kitchen when your cat thinks about hopping on the counter so you need a better way to deter him.
You can place a cookie sheet with water or covered with pennies on the counter. When your cat jumps on the counter the cookie sheet should go flying. Your cat will either get doused with water or the pennies will clatter to the floor. Either way, your cat should find it to be an unpleasant experience. If you do this a few times your cat should think twice before jumping on the counter.
You can also put aluminum foil along your counter. Foil is crinkly and most cats don’t like to walk on it or sit on it. If your cat jumps on the foil she will probably jump down right away.
Or, you can purchase a scat mat. These mats have a mild static charge that will give your cat an unpleasant feeling when she touches it. The feeling is similar to picking up a charge from scrubbing your feet on carpet and touching a doorknob so it won’t hurt your cat but it will be unpleasant enough to make her get off the counter.
Some people recommend using things that make loud noises such as balloons. Your cat jumps on the counter and when a claw touches a balloon (taped to the counter, half-filled with air) the popping noise scares the cat. The cat gets down and doesn’t get on the counter again. However, we would not recommend this method or any method that might scare your cat too much. Some cats can become very nervous as a result of these noises. They can subsequently become anxious about all loud noises. You know your cat best so use caution about any deterrent method you choose.
You should also consider why your cat likes to get on your counter (or table). If your cat is attracted to food on your counter, try to keep food off the counter. Put food away as soon as you are finished with it. Put it in your cabinet or refrigerator when you leave the kitchen. If you’re leaving interesting things on the counter that your cat likes to play with such as paper bags, pens, string, pieces of paper, you should remove these items as well. Make sure your cat has toys and fun things of her own where it’s safe for her to play.
Many cats like to get on kitchen counters because the counter has access to a kitchen window – and we all know how cats love to look outside and watch birds, squirrels, and other wildlife. If your cat is using the counter to get to a window, you can close the curtains so your cat can’t look outside so easily. Try to make sure your cat can use other windows to see outside.
Cats do enjoy high places so think about providing your cat with a tower or cat tree so he can get up high and perch without jumping on your counters. Kitty condos are another good idea. They come in many shapes and sizes. Some of them have two or three “floors” so your cat can climb and snuggle where she likes. Indoor window perches are a good way to let your cat comfortably watch the outdoors through her favorite window view.
Basically, if you keep your counters dull and uninviting, your cat won’t be very interested in exploring them. Don’t give her any positive reinforcement (food, play things, interesting views) for jumping up on the counter. At the same time, do provide her with high places of her own where she can enjoy herself and make sure she has fun things to do at ground level. Give her some new toys – but don’t give them to her all at once. Rotate toys to keep them interesting. Provide boxes – cats LOVE boxes – and paper bags so she can play hide and seek. And don’t forget a feather and piece of string, especially with you playing with your cat. Your cat will be very happy with these toys and spending time with you. She’ll probably forget all about your kitchen counter.