Cats love to get into and onto everything and anything. This can be annoying, unsanitary, and potentially hazardous for you and your pet. One of the hardest bad habits to break in cats is stopping them from jumping on tables and countertops. High places like the dinner table and kitchen island are intriguing for cats, since they are locations where we prepare food and often provide visual access to windows and the outdoors.
Despite their pleasant views and appetizing smells, tables and counters are dangerous for cats, since they can provide access to toxic food and plants. Other dangers include hot ovens and stove tops, sharp knives, sinks, and sharp or breakable items. Teaching a cat to stop jumping on tables and counters is difficult, but there are techniques that have proven successful. Since all cats are different, it’s best to try a few methods to determine which is most successful.
Tips for Keeping Cats Off the Counter
For starters, try putting plastic place mats over the forbidden surface. When your cat jumps on the counter, they’ll probably be annoyed by the sticky (but painless) sensation. Place double-sided tape on the plastic placemats with the tape facing upward, and replace as needed. The key to this technique is consistency, so always be sure to have the placemats out when the surface isn’t in use. As time passes and your cat gets the picture, you can slowly decrease the number of mats present.
There are also commercially-produced deterrent mats, which emit a small current, similar to static electricity, when cats touch the surface. When shopping for deterrent mats, be sure to read customer reviews and test the current on yourself before exposing them to pets.
Placing strips of tinfoil on the counter also works as a deterrent, since cats dislike the sound and texture of tinfoil and will be reluctant to walk on it.
If these techniques don’t work, try to gently spray your cat with water or blow on them with compressed air. Cats will learn from experience that being sprayed or ruffled is unpleasant and will refrain from provocative behaviors, if you remain consistent.
Some cats respond well to clicker training, though this is a more labor intensive process and may require some online research. Using an established baseline of clicker training with your cat can progress from simple commands and tricks to preventing them from jumping on unwanted surfaces.
Provide Your Cat with an Alternative
Also, investigate how your cat is getting on the counter. Some cats are able to jump on the counter from the ground, but others need chairs and stools to give them a boost. If your cat is using furniture to get on the counter, simply move the furniture to prevent unwanted behaviors.
It’s also beneficial to have a cat-approved high surface near a countertop or table, so that your cat can perch nearby without being on the forbidden surface. Use positive reinforcement to encourage cats to use their approved space.
Keep in mind that cats respond better to positive reinforcement, and physical disciplinary measures should never be taken. Cats are incredibly intelligent, and with hard work and time, they’re capable of learning tricks and avoiding negative behaviors.