Solved! How to Keep Cats Off Counters
Feline family members lend loads of fun and affection to a household, but cats are known for testing their humans’ patience. If your kitty persists in perching on your kitchen countertops, here’s how to cope.
Q: Our family’s cat, Ferris Mewler, is a total snuggle bug, a great mouser, and a beloved family member. Problem is, his favorite place to sit is on my kitchen counter. Although I scrub it down and use disinfectant often, I’m still concerned about bacteria. How can I convince Ferris to keep his germy little paws on the floor, where they belong?
A: There’s no denying that cats can be great company. They’re soft, warm, cute, fun to play with, and cozy cuddle buddies on rainy afternoons or chilly nights. Unfortunately, they can also be real jerks when they want to be!
Cats love a high perch, and their curiosity is the stuff of clichés, so it’s no wonder they want to see what you’re doing by staking their claim next to the stand mixer. Read on to learn how to keep cats off kitchen counters—without having to stop your slicing and dicing to shoo them away.
Create a safe alternative spot for jumping.
Have you ever met a cat who isn’t convinced they’re royalty? Being up high is their birthright, or so it would seem. Your countertops will lose a lot of their appeal if you provide plenty of other places from which your regal feline friend can look down on his subjects.
These could be prefab cat trees, or you might outfit existing bookshelves with a soft blanket and some catnip, to signal to your kitty that it’s A-OK to chill there. Or build your pet an elaborate feline freeway comprising steps, ledges, planks, ramps, tunnels, bridges, and beds.
Remove bar stools or other climbing aids around counters.
Are you making it easy for your kitty to summit Mt. Countertop? If there are bar stools, stepladders, rolling carts, trashcans, or anything else that might serve as a launching pad, move them out of range, at least temporarily. It may be possible to return them to their original positions down the line, once you’ve broken the cats’ trespassing habit.
You could also meet your curious cat halfway, and designate one of those barstools as an appropriate perch. Using treats as a training tool, it won’t take long to convince your four-legged friend that a specific stool is cool to sit on.
Remove temptation by fixing a leaky faucet.
Cats have a love-hate relationship with H20. Most of them aren’t huge fans of being submerged in it, but leave a faucet dripping, and you might have trouble evicting them from the sink come time to do the dishes. Why are kitties so drawn to a trickling tap? It’s instinctual, say behaviorists—out in the wild, stagnant water is more apt to harbor dangerous bacteria than a free-flowing stream.
Drinking from a dish on the floor can contribute to whisker fatigue. (Raise your hand if you were just-now years old when you learned that there’s such a thing as whisker fatigue.) This unpleasant state occurs when cats’ whiskers are overstimulated, say by bumping into the brim or sides of a bowl as they bow their head to eat or drink.
So your countertop might be a mere means to an end if your thirsty tabby is headed for a nice cool fresh-from-the-faucet drink. Fix any dripping taps, then try a water fountain for cats. It should go without saying, but make certain there’s no tempting human food left out on the counter, either.
Stick double-sided tape along the countertop edge.
Cats can be prima donnas when it comes to touching particular substances. They don’t like sticky or tacky textures, so putting down some double-sided tape is a deterrent worth trying. You can purchase large adhesive sheets to stick on surfaces like chairs, door frames, or stair banisters that your pets like to scratch, but for this purpose, the standard roll style of tape should work just fine. Apply it on the edge of the countertop, where it won’t interfere too much with your food prep, but will provide an unpleasant landing strip for your leaping house lions.
Similarly, many furry family members dislike the feeling of aluminum foil underfoot; for an inexpensive, on-hand way of dissuading your cat from camping out on the countertop, lay out a large sheet of foil. The unpleasant, slick surface, combined with the unexpectedly loud and crinkly noise it makes, might startle them sufficiently—and solve your problem once and for all.