BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

How to Keep Cats Off Counters: 10 Effective and Safe Solutions

cat lying on kitchen counter
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Have you always wondered about the best solution to the question: how to keep cats off counters? Many other cat lovers share your sentiments. It can be really hard to keep kitchen counterparts cat-free especially if you have multiple cats at home. However, there are certain practices you can do to keep your feline friends off of kitchen counters.

The squirt bottle method is a commonly suggested way of keeping cats off of the counter. However, it may damage your relationship with your pet. It is also not sustainable as most cats will learn that they can still jump onto counters if their owners are not around. You need solutions that will yield more permanent results, won’t offend your cat, and won’t cause him any undue harm. You’ll find all that and more in this article.

In this article, you will learn how to keep cats off counters naturally and safely. But before we get to that, we will briefly explain why cats love kitchen counters so much and why it isn’t acceptable for them to linger there.

Why Do Cats Love Kitchen Counters?

gray cat lying on counter

Before we discuss how to keep cats off counters at night, let’s first try to understand exactly why our feline friends love jumping onto kitchen counters. There are plenty of reasons why cats are naturally attracted to this part of the kitchen.

  • One reason is that they simply love heights. Cats jump onto higher grounds so they can survey their surroundings from a safe and elevated place. For the same reason, you can also find them jumping onto cabinets and stair railing.

  • However, one thing that separates the kitchen counters from other elevated places in the house is that the kitchen counters often have food that our feline friends would like to get their paws on. From leftover meals that are to be reheated for lunch or dinner to grocery items you may have inadvertently forgotten to put away, a kitchen counter is a tempting place for cats because they like to hunt down bits of leftover food.

  • And even when you’ve completely cleaned and scrubbed the kitchen counters, there could still be some smell left from the cooking that can attract cats to this part of the kitchen. Remember that our furry friends are creatures gifted with a superb sense of smell. The counter may look clean to you, but it may still smell like seared salmon to your pet.

  • Finally, most cats like fresh running water. The tap could be another reason why they love jumping onto the kitchen counter.

Why Should You Keep Cats Off Kitchen Counters?

orange cat falling down

Weird as it may sound, some cat owners let their cats roam the kitchen counters freely. In fact, there was a survey that involved more than 1,000 veterinarians and more than 100 cat owners regarding the acceptability of cats roaming the kitchen counters. While 55 percent of the respondents said ‘no,’ 21 percent answered that they have no problem letting their cats jump onto their kitchen counters.

The reasons vary, but a common motivating factor for these cat lovers is that it is easier for them to keep the kitchen clean than the floor. However, it is a wise thing to keep your kitchen counters cat-free. For one, it is not advisable to feed your pets in the kitchen as it is unhygienic and could be dangerous for you and other family members. Feeding pets in the kitchen is a risk factor for Salmonella infection.

Aside from the health hazards to humans, cats may also fall ill if they are allowed to roam around in the kitchen freely. Some human foods like raisins, grapes, chocolates, and avocados are dangerous to our feline friends. Ingesting these foods can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and seizures.

How to Keep Cats Off Of Your Kitchen Counters

cat sleeping on kitchen counter

The squirt bottle technique or spraying water directly onto cats may be one of the more commonly mentioned tricks in dealing with felines roaming around the countertop. It is no secret that cats hate water and the idea of getting wet. You could always keep a spray bottle handy and then give your pal a quick spritz of water to shoo them off of the counter.

However, this isn’t exactly the best way to keep your cat off of the counter. This technique will frustrate cats. It can affect your relationship with your pet as he will become afraid of you. It’s also not that effective in the long run because cats would learn that they should wait until you’ve left the premises before jumping onto the counter again. Also, remember not to scold your cat verbally or hit him for jumping onto the countertop. Not only are these methods ineffective, but it can also damage your relationship with him.

So how do you keep your feline friend off of the kitchen counters without him getting upset at you? Here are some of the best ways to do it:

Solution #1: Place a Strip of Aluminum Foil

cat wearing aluminum foil

Cats hate stepping and walking on aluminum foil because of the rustling and crinkling sound; it’s annoying to them. To take advantage of this, simply place a strip of aluminum foil on your kitchen counter. Use a small strip of masking tape to keep it in place. When you furry friend attempts to jump onto the kitchen counter, he’ll likely get off immediately after.

Solution #2: Place Some Sticky Tape

Another thing that cats dislike is stepping on a sticky surface. By placing some sticky tape on the counter, you will be able to deter your cat from jumping and walking around the countertop.

The downside to this is that you’ll have to set it up and remove it numerous times a day—because you also won’t be able to do your chores on the kitchen counter when it’s covered in sticky tapes. There’s also the chance that the sticky tape will leave stains after removal.

Solution #3: Leave Citrus Fruit Peels

citrus fruit peels

If you love to eat oranges or lemons, then instead of throwing the peels away, you should leave them on the counters. You can also use the fact that cats hate the smell of citrus to deter them from chewing on things or damaging flowers in your garden.

The problem with citrus fruit peels, though, is that they tend to dry fast and can quickly become ineffective. However, you can easily mitigate this by making your own DIY citrus spray by combining two cups of water with a cup of citrus fruit peels in a pan. Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes then pour the liquid into a spray bottle.

Add more lemon juice if you’d like a stronger scent. Spray this onto the countertop every day to discourage your feline from jumping onto it. Of course, if you don’t have time to go DIY, you can simply buy and use a citrus air freshener. Choose one with a strong citrus smell. If, just like your cat, you dislike the smell of citrus, don’t worry. There are other DIY cat repellent recipes you can try. Check this article out.

Solution #4: Place a Piece of Sandpaper on Top of the Kitchen Counters

piece of brown sandpaper

Do you have scraps of sandpaper lying around in your basement? You can use them to deter your cat from hopping onto the counter. Simply place them on top of the kitchen counter. Use scotch tape to keep them in place. Cats hate the gritty feel of sandpaper on their soft paws.

Solution #5: Install a Booby Trap

While there are commercially-available pet deterrents that can keep your pet off of the counter, you can also go DIY. Here’s a simple booby trap that you can set up at home. Gather several empty soda cans and insert 10 to 15 pennies in each can. Tape the opening, then place the cans in various areas of the kitchen counter.

The idea is that when your pet jumps onto the counter, he will brush off the cans. The cans should make a loud noise upon falling to the ground. The sound is enough to scare your pet away and keep him from coming back.

Solution #6: Don’t Leave Leftover Food on the Counter

cat looking at fish

As mentioned earlier, cats love to jump onto kitchen counters because of food. Some cats are fond of perusing the counters in search of food and leftover scraps. It is thus ideal to keep what they are looking for out of their reach.

Keep the kitchen counters clean so that your pet would realize that he won’t find any food there. Make it a habit to wash the dishes immediately. If you can’t, place the dishes in the dishwasher right away so that your cat won’t be able to access them. Moreover, ensure that your cat is fed regularly so that he won’t have any reason to jump onto the counter in search of food.

Solution #7: Eliminate Other Temptations

cat drinking from running water

Aside from getting rid of leftover food, you should also eliminate other things that may tempt your cat to leap onto your countertop. Hanging items like pots and pans may interest cats, so it’s best to remove them. The same goes for running water which your cat may try to access if he’s thirsty. Turn off the tap after each use, and if your cat really likes drinking from running water, we suggest building a DIY cat water fountain for him.

Or maybe your cat loves to gaze out the windowsill located at the end of your counter. If so, pull the shades down so that he won’t be tempted to lounge around. Being observant of the things that attract him to the counter can help you determine the distractions which you can then remove so your countertop will be less appealing to your pet.

Solution #8: Distract Your Cat

If you have eliminated all the possible attractors and yet your furry friend persists with this habit, then you should distract him. Do this as soon as you notice him approaching the counter.

One way to distract him is to throw a toy in the opposite direction so he would run after it. You may also call him over and away from the counter. Don’t forget to give him some treats if he responds; that way he will realize that he is being rewarded for good behavior.

Solution #9: Give Him an Alternative to Kitchen Countertops

cat sitting on shelf

It is no secret that cats love climbing onto tall places—which could be one reason why he keeps on jumping and roaming around your kitchen counters. If he continues to do so, then build a specially designed perching spot for him so he won’t have to make do with your kitchen counters anymore.

You can install a cat tree or a cat shelf. Interest him in the new kitty spot by placing his favorite toys on it. While this trick may not completely keep your pal out of the kitchen, it should at least encourage him to avoid jumping onto the counter.

Solution #10: Get Other Family Members Involved

No matter which of the tips above you plan to try out, you need to make sure that everyone in the household is in on it. Your cat won’t learn fast that he is not supposed to jump onto the counters if there is no consistency in the enforcement of house rules. Ensure that everyone in the family is familiar with the rules, and more importantly, reinforces them.

Wrap Up

orange cat on kitchen counter

Cats are notorious for their fondness for jumping onto kitchen counters. The reasons behind this behavior are aplenty. Some cats are naturally attracted to the countertops because of the elevation. Kitchen counters provide cats with a place to survey the rest of the kitchen. Access to food and running water from the tap are the other main causes of this behavior.

Instead of spraying water on your pet, you can simply eliminate the factors that make the counters so appealing to him. Keep the kitchen countertops free of leftover food and food scraps. You should also provide him with an alternative spot to hang around.

There are also other natural ways to discourage your cat from jumping onto the counters like using repellents such as citrus fruit peelings or placing a strip of aluminum foil, sandpaper, or sticky tape on top of the counters.

So what are you waiting for? Try any of these tips now, and you’ll soon see your cat avoiding kitchen counters like the plague. Have you successfully dealt with this problem before? What did you do to keep them off? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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