How do I keep my cat off the counter?

How do I keep my cat off the counter?

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Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – I have a 6-year-old male cat and I can’t seem to keep him off the counter. He knows he’s not supposed to be up there because he only gets up there when we are gone or when we are sleeping. I have a 9-month-old son and I am worried about germs on the counter! How can I teach him from getting on the counter?


Keri Branch


Hi Keri– thanks for your email. The question you ask is very common and can be very frustrating – “How do you keep a cat off the counters?”. Your second concern is germs on the counter.

To address the second issue first, I think the risk of “germs” is pretty minimal although I agree that it is not ideal to have a cat on the counter.

There are several “tricks” to keeping cats off the counters but none work perfectly. For more details, please read How to Keep Your Cat Off Tables and Counters.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Make sure your cat have plenty of environmental stimulation and enrichment. Window perches, interesting windows to look out of and climbing posts.
  • Minimize food and other attractive items to your cat on the counters.
  • Make countertops unattractive by having citrus or cleanser scents, soap or other cleaning product type scents. You can also make the area unattractive by placing double sided tape on the countertop.
  • You can have mild punishers such as such as spray your cat with a squirt bottle. It is important that your cat think the spray is from another cause other than you. Otherwise your cat stays off the counter top or jumps off when you enter the room. There are also other punishers such as ssscat – that is activated by motion and releases a hiss type sound that deters cats.

    Train your cat – there are methods such as the click and treat training that can train your cat to get down when you say the word “off”. Rewards are necessary from time to time if the cat is to stay trained.

    Best of luck!

    Dr. Debra

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