In order to keep your cat from counter surfing it may prove helpful to think as a cat. A kitchen counter is very attractive to the cat’s eyes. First of all it is high and we all know how much cats love heights, second it is interesting, because we know that cats are inquisitive in nature, and third a kitchen counter is rewarding, just think of how great it is to find some crumbs, good smells or better a whole roasted chicken!
Keeping cats off a counter can therefore, prove challenging. In order to grant success the cat should associate the counter with something negative rather than positive. Patience, consistency and swiftness of action are the key factors to consider in order to teach a cat that the counter is strictly off limits. Luckily, there are some tricks of the trade to help taper this unwanted behavior off.
- Remove All Food
Food definitely plays the most rewarding part when it comes to kitchen counter climbing.
All it takes is some tasty food up there to teach a cat that a counter is definetely worth the trip. Try to take away foods, dirty dishes and try to keep it as immaculate as possible so the cat will find it pretty boring.
Keep in mind as well that some cats use the counter as a mean to reach the sink, where yummy dirty dishes and water are found. So it may be worth it to keep the sink clean as well.
- Soda Cans and Coins
You want to place these in strategic areas that would cause the cat to make them fall upon climbing up. The horrible noise created by the cans tumbling down should be sufficient to startle the most courageous cat and turn the counter into an unpleasant area. While the empty cans may look unattractive, just think of this as a temporary fix until your cat gets the message.
- Aluminum Foil
This can be used as a substitute to the cans and it consists of placing strips of aluminum foil all around the borders of the counter where the cat would first land should he/she climb. Stepping on aluminum foil is an unpleasant experience for cats because it is noisy and startling. Again, think of this as a temporary fix.
- Sticky Tape
This works just as the aluminum foil or even better. Cats naturally hate the feeling of something sticky on their paws.
- Spray Bottle
You need to catch your cat in action in order for this to be fully effective. In other words, your action should be very swift in order to work. This is how it works: your cat climbs up and you will quickly spray the cat. Your cat should associate the water with the action of climbing up. If you spray once the cat is up licking a dish he will think that all he did wrong was lick the dish while the climbing part was perfectly o.k.
Do not wet the cat too much, all you need is one spray making sure you do not aim at the face. I have found that a bottle that does “Shhh” works better. This method may be effective but the cat may quickly learn that it is safe to get on the counter when you are not around.
This should be used only as an ultimate resort when the other remedies have not worked. A scat mat is basically a mat that gives a very small shock when the cat climbs on it. It may seem a bit excessive but after all it is much safer than landing on a hot stove or eating something toxic.
- Scat Mat
Discouraging a cat from counter surfing is not just a question of hygiene but also of safety. Numerous cats each year accidentally step on a hot stove getting even serious third degree burns on their delicate paw pads. Some cats end up eating foods that are not good for them or having pots and pans fall on them on attempting to climb. Some cats have been injured by having a whole toaster fall on them or by accidentally ingesting chemicals used for cleaning.
It is important to understand that a cat will not learn straight away that the counter is off limits but rather it will take some time to learn, but in the long run, it is definitely worth it. It may take lots of consistency, patience and determination. but kitty will ultimately understand that his place is on the floor.
*Disclaimer: All remedies suggested are not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your pet is sick please refer to your veterinarian for a hands on examination. If your pet is exhibiting behavior problems please refer to a professional pet behaviorist.