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How to Keep Cats Off Counters

By Stacy Painter
published: April 28, 2021 • 2 min. read
cat on counter

Cats like to observe their kingdom from high places so your cat may enjoy exploring your kitchen counters, the top of your favorite bookcase or he may even like to perch on top of your refrigerator. This can pose a danger to him and you if he decides to leap down on you, claws blazing, when you least expect it.

While you want your cat to have fun places to perch, you may not want him on your nice, clean kitchen counters. But how do you discourage him? Remember that deterrents, not punishment, are the answer.

Find Out What He Wants

By determining why your cat is jumping on the counter, you can work to prevent it. Is there food that he wants? Is he interested in what you are doing in the kitchen and wants to help? Is the counter a good vantage point to see outside?

A high perch: If you don’t have enough “good” high places and sleeping areas available to your cat, this is the first place to start. Install a tall cat tree or kitty condo that offers climbing opportunities and a place for your cat to survey his territory from up high. The condo could also include a cubby or hammock where your cat can enjoy a nap up and out of the way of household commotion. If your cat likes to look out the window, you could also buy a shelf that attaches to the window for kitty to enjoy a snooze in the sun.

Hungry: If your cat is surfing the counters in search of food because he’s just hungry all the time, the answer may be to feed him more, or to feed him more often. Be sure to remove all food from countertops so there’s nothing to tempt him to jump up.

Thirsty: If he’s jumping up on the counter because he likes to get a drink from the faucet, it may be that he likes the running water. There are a number of cat fountains on the market that continuously cycle water which may be more enticing to your cat than a bowl of still water.

Attention: It may be that kitty jumps up on the counter to be closer to you. Maybe more playtime with him is the answer to his “naughty” behavior.


‘Environmental’ Deterrents

Punishing your cat by yelling or swatting at him for jumping onto the counter is not an effective way to discourage him. He won’t understand why you are punishing him, and he will just grow to fear you. Instead, use “environmental punishers” so he will learn by experience that the countertop is not a fun place to be.

Cookie sheets: Place thin cookie sheets on the edge of the counter. When kitty jumps up, the sheets may fall to the floor and clatter – something kitty will not like, and he may make a quick retreat.

Double-sided tape: Another form of environmental punishment is double-stick tape. Stick it on plastic placemats, sticky side up, for easy removal when you need to use the counters.

Aluminum foil: Cats don’t like to step on it because of the crinkly sound it makes. Attach it to the counter with scotch tape, which is easy to remove when needed.

The advantage of these methods is that your cat will experience this “punishment” whether you are around or not. Kitty will discover that the kitchen counter isn’t such a great place after all.

Stacy Painter profile
By Stacy Painter

Stacy has always been an animal lover and has worked in the pet industry and pet insurance specifically for over a decade. As a writer since early childhood, content writing for Healthy Paws pet insurance was a natural career path to combine her two passions. She currently lives in Florida with her boyfriend and Taiwanese rescue dog, Kaya.

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