Keeping Cats Off the Kitchen Counters

One of the most frequent complaints by cat owners is that the cat won’t stay off the counters dining table. Even my own kitty, Monster, has been guilty! Luckily, there are several ways to discourage cats from getting onto surfaces where they don’t belong. Let’s take a look.

Water Bottle

The old standby, a squirt bottle, is often the first method tried by frustrated pet parents with nosy kitties. Unfortunately, it often does nothing but teach the cat to run when it sees a squirt bottle. A squirt with water can be effective in keeping cats out of trouble, but only if the cat never sees you coming with the bottle. The idea is for the cat to think, “Some nameless higher power doesn’t want me on the counters! I mysteriously get wet every time I jump up!” If it sees you, it will just think, “Geez, that human is sure a jerk when he/she has a squirt bottle!”

If you’d like to try the squirt bottle method, exercise some self control and ignore the behavior if there’s no way to keep the cat from seeing you get the water bottle and spray it. Hide around the corner and give one spritz while the cat’s distracted, and you’ll have a better chance of sending the right message.

Mouse Traps

No, the mouse traps aren’t to convince the cat that any rodent problems are already taken care of and it needn’t get on the counter to check. Mouse traps can be used to harmlessly startle a cat when it jumps onto the counter. Simply set the traps (no bait) and lay them gently upside-down where the cat usually jumps up. Cover them with a towel and wait. When the cat jumps up, it’ll land on traps that snap with a loud POP and feel funny under its paws. The noise and surprise should discourage future jumping. After the cat has landed on the upside-down traps a few times, you can just leave the towels on the counter when you’re not home, and the cat will think the traps are still there.

Scat Mat

If neither of the above harmless and painless methods of removing the kitty from the counters work, there’s one other option. Petsmart sells a mat called a “Scat Mat.” This mat gives a mild static shock when touched. Thus, if the cat jumps on it, it will feel approximately the same sensation you experience if you shuffle across the floor in socks and then touch a metal object. I don’t like to use methods that cause pain, since pain creates fear, but a Scat Mat is pretty mild as far as punitive training goes. It’s also instant, which is a must for any effective positive punishment.

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  1. HART (1-800-HART)
    | Reply

    The “Water Bottle” squirt never works for us, and actually created harm – well, maybe not harm 🙂

    But .. whenever we squirt the walls of our shower with that Daily Fresh each morning .. he will sink his teeth into, or unravel our toilet paper roll.

    What worked for us was one good old fashion roll of masking tape. You just place the sticky side up and when the cat jumps on on it, it takes forever for him/her to take the masking tape out from its claws and cathair in its toes. And, it’s not too sticky like gum where it has to be cut out.

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