Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How to keep cats off countertops

One morning you enter your kitchen and see a trail of perfect little kitty paw prints lined up along yourkitchen counter top. Looks like your cat has been on your counters again, despite your repeated attempts to stop this behavior. It's time to train that kitty even though you might often feel that you're the one being trained.

Cats love to be up high; on top of cabinets, high shelves, and the highest level of a cat-climbing tree. There's a measure of safety and security in being able to look down on their world. In addition, cat's have a "bird's eye" view of their domain when perched above the rest of the world. An added benefit to this new height is that it's the perfect place to ambush unsuspecting humans or other pets in the house.

When this climbing tendency results in nasty cat paws across your counter, you're got to control the cat. Remember that consistency is the key to training your cat. Training must be fun, must be repeated, and certainly must have an adequate reward to keep kitty in the frame of mind of trying to please you. It's really quite simple. You need to re-establish who is boss in your house.

So what's on your cat's feet?

Counter surfing is great fun for a kitty. A sure way to attract immediate human attention, very few cats can resist the temptation of fun AND food all in one spot. This great form of entertainment for your cat is really just spreading germs via kitty's feet. Litter box residue (and subsequent feces and urine), dust from the floor, dirt from the flooryou name it, it's on the cat's feet.

Unless you're planning on using the floor as your dinner plate, it's frankly pretty gross to let kitty prance happily on the counter. The 5-second rule for dropped food should apply to the floor, not your counter. Has your cat decided he likes the sink better than his water dish? Well, is his water dish clean and fresh? A hundred things entice your cat to climb. Bottom line is that it's really unclean to have the cat walking on the surfaces that you cook and prepare food on. In addition, if you use any cleansers on the counters, your cat may be ingesting the residue when he cleans in paws. I shouldn't even need to mention the dangers of a hot stove!

Stop that counter-surfing!


I confess to spritzing my cat with the kitchen sink sprayer to prevent his jumping into the sink. Just a little spray and he hasn't done it since. Many folks use a squirt bottle. Make sure it's filled and the nozzle is turned to the "stream" setting. Keep it handy. Cats will almost always stop the unwanted behavior after just a few squirts. Make sure to combine the spray of the bottle with a firm "Off!"

Tin Can Rattles

Most cats will startle at loud noises. Throw some change or rocks on an empty coffee can and keep it on the counter. If kitty counter-surfs, rattle than can. It might freak them out the first few times but you can be sure that even the sight of the can will make your cat think twice about jumping on the counters. Don't forget to soothe that ruffled fur a few minutes after the rattle sounds.

Tape or aluminum foil barriers

Imagine your totally indignant cat with a big piece of tape stuck to his paw, shaking his foot for all he's worth in an effort to dislodge it. Pretty funny mental image. Some folks try this method. In truth, I haven't although I just might because of the sure entertainment value. It seems it would work although I imagine lining the edges of all your counters with 2-sided tape might be difficult as well as inconvenient. Some folks try aluminum foil on the premise that cats don't like the feeling of the foil on their feet. These are great additional options for folks who've failed with water and the tin can rattles.

Commercial products

Commercial cat repellents are available at local pet stores and vendors. If all else fails, this might be the ticket for the most stubborn cat. It's important to remember that training a cat is never an easy proposition. Don't expect to find a simple solution in a can of spray repellent.

An important reminder

It is so very important to consider the health and well being of your animal. Never is this more important than when you are training your animal. Never smack your cat; never hit him anywhere on his body. Remember that you are trying to foster a changed behavior, not create an angry cat with issues. Positive training brings about positive change in your cat. And soon the kitty counter surfing will be a thing of the past!

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