When you watch felines in the wild, you will notice they seem capable of the most incredible athletic feats.
While not all cat breeds love to be up high, nearly all cats enjoy jumping up and down to explore their world. This behavior might be adorable in a young kitten. But it can quickly turn problematic in a fully grown adult cat.
If you have been despairing of ever training your cat to stay off the counters, this is definitely the article you need to read.
How to Keep Cats Off Counters
Cats are genetically built to jump and climb. The best way to keep your cat off counters is to offer an acceptable alternative.
Start by identifying where in your house your cat can climb and jump. If you don’t have other options besides counters, it is time to get some!
Then you can start training your cat to climb on those surfaces and not counters.
Learn Four Easy Ways to Keep Your Cat Off the Counter
When you start to understand why climbing up and being up high is so important to your cat, you may start to feel less frustrated by this behavior.
This YouTube video gives you four easy tips to keep your cat off the counter right from their first day with you.
But these tips will also work even if you have been coping with this problem behavior for some time. The key is to start today to train your cat to stay off counters.
Understanding Why Cats Need to Climb
As Cat Behavior Associates highlights, the ability to climb is innate to being a feline.
In other words, your cat needs to climb. It is part of being a cat!
But climbing is not just fun and enriching for your cat. It is also a deeply programmed part of feline survival skills.
When a cat is up high, they have a better vantage point to survey the area for potential predators as well as potential prey.
Being able to climb also helps a cat find sanctuary to rest safely out of sight and avoid interactions with humans or other animals.
And climbing keeps your cat in good physical shape by exercising the body and maintaining strong muscles.
In multi-cat households, climbing can also reduce conflict and offer each cat a place to call their own.
What Are Safe Items Pet Cats Can Climb On
Now that you understand more about why your cat craves climbing, it is time to identify places inside your space that are okay for your cat to climb on.
WebMD explains that the most effective way to keep your cat off the counter is to redirect the need to climb to other places.
Meet the cat tree
One of the best options is the so-called “cat tree.” Cat trees are sometimes also called cat condos. Cat trees typically offer multiple enrichment opportunities.
A cat tree might feature several level shelves or surfaces, a hiding box, a scratching post, a kitty hammock, and even a suspended cat toy or two.
Today’s cat toys are often quite attractive and are designed to blend in with the existing decor.
However, as Cat Vets points out, you may need to spend some time training your cat on how to use one of these cat trees or cat condos. Your cat may not instinctively “get” what it is and how to use it at first.
Consider cat shelves
Cat shelves offer an alternative to cat trees or cat condos. Lots of different cat shelving kits exist.
Many cat shelves are wall-mounted, which is nice because you can give your cat climbing enrichment without having to give up any valuable floor space for a cat tree.
Some cat shelves even double as wall art and can become their own conversation piece when you have guests.
And there is no doubt it is fun and entertaining to watch your cat climb and explore up high on the cat shelves on your walls.
Install a cat window box or hammock
Many cats enjoy sitting in the sun near windows to watch the birds and squirrels outside.
A cat window box or cat hammock provides a ready outlet for this enriching behavior. Once again, these tools don’t take up any floor space and yet offer plenty of fun and exercise for your cat.
Designate certain furniture as cat-friendly
Maybe you don’t want your cat jumping up and climbing on kitchen or bathroom counters. This can become unsanitary as well as unsightly when you have guests over.
But perhaps you have certain furniture items that are perfectly fine for your cat to jump up on, rest on and play on.
Taking the time to take inventory of your space will help you pick out places where the impact of allowing your cat to jump up or play is minimal. This can help redirect your cat away from counters.
Figuring Out Your Cat’s Counter Jumping Motivation and Reward
As PetMD explains, one of the most effective ways to start retraining and redirecting a cat’s problem behavior is to understand why your cat does it in the first place.
For example, if your cat seems irresistibly drawn to jumping on counters, what is the reward for this behavior?
Perhaps that particular counter is where you prepare your cat’s food – or your own food.
Maybe your cat just wants to be with you and jumping on the counter is a good way to get your attention.
Or it could even be possible that your cat has a health issue that is driving the behavior, such as excessive hunger or thirst.
It is always important to have your cat examined by a qualified feline veterinarian just to rule out any underlying health issues that could be causing counter jumping.
Other Ways to Keep Cats Off Counters Effectively
Because counter-surfing cats are a problem many feline owners struggle with, there are lots of products that have been designed to help curb this behavior.
One of the best and safest ways is to simply change something about the counter to make being there undesirable for your cat.
Adding an uncomfortable surface such as bubble wrap, aluminum foil, sandpaper, sticky tape or plastic wrap may be all it takes to convince your cat to give your counters a wide berth.
For some cats, a sudden vibration (NOT shock), a loud noise, or a spritz of water or cat-safe aerosol spray could be the winning countermove.
Since cats have keen noses, changing the scent of the counter to odor cats don’t like such as citrus, lavender or peppermint may also work wonders.
As the Animal Humane Society points out, you may not love the idea of altering your work surfaces in any of these ways.
But the key thing to remember is that in most cases you won’t have to leave these retraining aids in place forever. You just need to alter your counters for long enough to convince your cat not to jump on them again.
For many cats, a single experience with crinkly aluminum foil or citrus odor is often enough to make the counters their new least favorite place to be.
When everything else you try fails to work, there is still one trick left – consider hiring a professional feline behaviorist to help you retrain your counter jumping cat.