Many cat parents struggle with this common problem. Old suggestions like spraying cats with water don’t work and aren’t kind. To make matters worse, these punishment-based techniques make cats scared, anxious, and stressed.
So, how do we get our cats to stay off the counter?
First, let’s look at why they are up there in the first place.
Cats need to climb and perch. Cats are predators, but they are also prey. They are instinctively driven to find the highest place in their environment to climb and perch so that they can survey the environment. This makes them feel safe.
Once we humans understand this, we can start to look at the problem differently.
What is the highest place in your kitchen that your cat has access to? I am betting it’s your counter. Now you understand why your cat wants to be up there, right? It makes her feel safe.
Instead of scaring your cat and punishing her in ways she doesn’t understand, turn the tables and give her an even better place in your kitchen to feel safe. A climbing and perching kitchen solution for your cat can be a cat tree, bookshelves, or even a beautiful climbing wall.
Once you install your solution, your cat might take some time to get used to the new and improved perching place. Don’t get frustrated.
Try putting your cat’s food and treats up on the perch to encourage exploration. Every time your cat jumps on your counter, gently and kindly pick her up and place her on the new perch. Give her a treat or a bit of catnip to encourage her to stay there. Depending on the setup, you could even feed her on her new perch. Tell her she’s eating the same way as her leopard cousins in Africa.
Soon enough, your cat will prefer her cozy new option to your counters.
That’s how you make a Fear Free Happy Home for your cat!
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.
Published May 1, 2018