As part of thinking they rule the house and that rules don’t apply to them, many cats like getting up on counters! Some people don’t mind this and some even find it endearing,but it actually isn’t a good idea. For starters, it can lead to bad habits and also put cats at risk ofserious harm or even death. It also can pose health risks to humans.
Unfortunately, scolding them with a “No!” isn’t going to work. Even if it works to chase a cat off at that moment, that cat will return to the counter, especially when you’re not around. Many a cat owner has already learned “No!” doesn’t work through the charming experience of watching a cat just casually look at you while it scratches a couch or carpet while you tell it not to.
So, you’re going to have to try something else.
Fortunately, there are some techniques that can help teach a cat not to get on the counters~ Let’s look at what they are, as well as why cats like getting on counters in the first place and why it can be a problem.
Although a cat’s answer might be “Because I can” or “Why do you care?” there actually are some biologically sound reasons that cats like jumping up on counters:
Cats love to climb and they love high places. This probably has to do with their predatory instincts, but it may also be because it gives them a perch from which to look down upon everyone and everything else with disdain.
They can get away from dogs.In houses with both cats and dogs, cats often have the ability to frighten off dogs that outweigh them by dozens of pounds. Nevertheless, counters and other high places allow them to get a break from hissing and swiping at dogs.
Water may be close by.You might have noticed that, if given the chance, cats will drink from anything but their water bowl. Jumping up on a counter can mean access to a sink, where there may be standing water in dishes or the basin.
There are great smells up there! Counters are places where we spend a lot of time preparing and eating foods. Some of those foods have odors that are irresistible to cats.
Since “Just say no” isn’t going to work and you presumably don’t want to do something drastic to your miniature lion, here are some proven methods for changing this behavior or preventing it in the first place:
Harder access. This is maybe the simplest remedy, so it’s first. As cats get older, it’s harder for them to jump as high as they used to. (The same applies to kittens not yet fully grown.) Many will use chairs and stools as “steps” to get onto counters. Pull them back or push them in.
Sticky tape along the counter’s edge.Let’s just say that cats don’t like the feel of anything sticky on their paws. If you line the edges of your counters with sticky tape, after a few jumps, the cat will probably find somewhere else to go or will make bigger leaps. Since most cats don’t seem to feel obligated to work too hard for anything, the latter is more likely.
Aluminum foil along the edge. Similar to the above suggestion, this one also creates a situation cats don’t like. In this case, it’s noise.
Climbing trees and towers. Buy or build structures that cats can climb on. Make them tall and interesting, with places they can hide, observe, or rest, for example. Praise your cat for using the structure with affection or, more likely to work, a treat.
Address the water issue. If the sink appears to be the prime attraction, make the “approved” watering choices more attractive. For example, you can change the water more frequently, add an ice cube occasionally to make the water a bit cooler, or buy a device that circulates water without wasting it.
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Bryson, Jennifer & the FurryFreshness Team