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Training Cats To Stay Off Counters
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Training Cats to Stay Off Counters

Why should we cat lovers care about training cats to stay off counters? The answer to me is pretty obvious but maybe not to fanatic cat lovers. Do you really want to be preparing food for your self and your guests on a surface that has freshly used cat litter on it, even if it is just at a microscopic level? Not all your guest will be cat lovers either, so imagine their reaction on entering the dining room and seeing a hairy tail departing from their plate! Enough said I think.

Even if you are picky about cleaning the surfaces before using them what if the darling moggy decides to investigate what you are up to when your back is turned? You have to see that training cats to stay off counters should be an essential part of any cat loving household.

Cats like high places as it gives them a place to watch the world from and keep relatively safe. It is almost instinctive for them to go up onto counters for this reason and even more so if there is food there. We must adopt several strategies if training cats to stay off counters is to succeed.

It is certainly true that it is far easier training cats to stay off counters when they are kittens than it is to train a fully grown adult cat but it still can be done. Cats are easily conditioned in their behavior but sometimes I wonder who is training who! If we respond in certain ways to them then they will continue to follow that pattern. Hence one well trained human! more of that below.

Let me give you a few options which I will go into in more detail. 1) Punishing your cat 2) Scaring your cat 3) Giving them no reason to get up on the counter.

1) Training cats to stay off counters by punishment. This rarely if ever works, is upsetting for all concerned and simply means the cat will learn to avoid you. While being fairly intelligent animals they have no reason to understand what the punishment is for and will probably continue to use the counters when you are not there.

2) Training cats to stay off counters by scaring them. There are some clever devices on the market which undoubtedly work. One I have seen incorporates a sensor and a sudden blast of air. Not something I am particularly sure about myself because a scared cat is not a happy cat.

A more subtle approach is to simply make the counters less pleasant for them. A strong smelling surface cleaner for example seems to work well in our household and of course it is killing two birds with one stone. Clean disinfected surfaces and no counter cruisers.

A step up from this is to spread kitchen foil on the counter when you leave it. Cats seem to hate walking on this and after a while will stop trying to get up.

It is all down to a bit of trial and error though with these things but keep at it and you should succeed.

3) Training cats to stay off counters by never encouraging them to get up in the first place. This goes back to the conditioning that I mentioned earlier and cats learning to train their humans.

Cute and appealing as they may be, if you give in and feed a cat scraps while you are preparing or carving food then it is no wonder that they come begging for more and associate counters with food for them. It is important that they only get fed in their dish on the floor so that becomes the only place that they associate with food.

Doubly important is to make sure that NO food is left out to tempt them up to investigate further. In our kitchen this seems to do the trick. Yours can be the same.

It might seem harsh to you but you are a human and they are cats and as much as we like to endow them with human traits you are only creating a problem for your self. A fed warm comfortable cat is a happy cat and there are lots of ways to show them you love them without getting them into bad habits.

Do this from the kitten stage and you will both have a mutually satisfying relationship without worrying about giving you or your guests food poisoning.

So you see that training cats to stay off counters is achievable and sustainable and should not be unduly hard to do, so why not give it a try today. Peace of mind in the kitchen is a great thing to have.

Street Talk

Thank you for the foil tip! I will try this for sure!

  about 9 years ago

Thanks Kyle. We think we have it cracked in our house. Our two resident felines rarely climb on the counters (notice I said rarely, all cats are susceptable to temptation) Roger

  about 1 decade ago

Great article Roger...I think this is a problem that ALL cat owners have!

  about 1 decade ago
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