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Countertop Cruising Cats? How to Keep Cats Off Counters

by | Oct 26, 2023 | Cat Behavior & Care | 3 comments

Do you have a countertop cat? Many cat owners complain about cats countertop cruising, and they want to know how to keep cats off counters. Our new Trinity-Kitten loves scaling the heights. To figure ways to shoo cats off furniture or counters, it’s important to know WHY cats love counters. And if your kitty uses the counter or other perch as a launching pad for door dashing, check these tips.

keep cats off counters

Yes, even Karma-Kat indulges in countertop cruising.

These days more folks now work from home and cook meals rather than going out. Bonus for the cat! But perhaps aggravating for you with loudmouth cats demanding attention. Here are some tips to help keep you sane, and your cat safe from stovetops and other appliance dangers.

Cats trespassing in your garden? Find tips here!

keep cats off counters

Why Cats Love High Places

Cats love high places because they’re safe lookouts. Perching on high places also makes a literal statement about the cat’s place in the feline hierarchy. However, countertop cruising can be both a safety and a hygiene issue for owners. Nobody enjoys having a pet “graze” from the dinner table or skillet and walking across a hot stovetop may cause serious burns.

keep cats off counters

Cats love kitchen counters because it puts them on the same level as their human. The kitchen counter has lots of food around for cat burglars. Cats also love lounging in warm spots, and a stovetop proves irresistible to some second-story cats.

Dealing with height-loving felines frustrates owners. Even when Kitty understands that a particular location (the mantel) is forbidden she may avoid the place when you’re present, but plant her furry tail on high as soon as you leave the room. When you return and she sees you, she’ll leap off even before you yell at her.

Cat Territory Claims

A couple of things are going on. The cat that claims the highest position is the “top cat” in the scheme of feline hierarchy. Cats want to see long distances and be out of reach of potential threats.

Cats practice a time-share mentality and schedule lounging time to avoid competition. When the “top cat” is not there to use the preferred perch, the cat feels within her rights to claim it. After all, YOU weren’t using it! Then when you catch her in the forbidden zone, she acknowledges you as the top cat and gets off in deference to your social status.

cats on counters

Multiple Pet Issues

Multiple cats mean you’ll constantly chase cats off second-story space because as soon as one vacates the real estate, another waits to take her place. When cats must share space with dogs, they often must take the “high road” and avoid the ground floor territory claimed by any canines. That can be a safety issue and a social statement for the cat. Some cats love hidey-holds to get away from other pets, like this fun cat tunnel. Find out more tips for living with multiple cats in the ComPETability book.

At my house, we have several cat trees for Karma-Kat, and he also uses the backs of furniture to keep out of Bravo-sniff range. Since we only rarely use the dining room table for meals (it’s my secondary office space, so mostly used for the laptop), I’ve set up a cat bed at one end.

You need to choose your battles, too. You can modify some of these irksome behaviors and encourage cats to stay off forbidden places with training techniques.

cats on stoves

How to Keep Cats Off Counters

  • When you are there, use an interruption, such as a loud “OFF!” or clapped hands to get cats down. A long-distance squirt gun aimed at the backside may persuade some cats. NOTE: Some cats like to be sprayed, and such things only work as interruptions, not punishment. Kitties learn to leave when you pick up the sprayer and return to timeshare when you’re gone.
  • When you aren’t around, the cat will still use the perch unless you make it unattractive. The SSScat aerosol has a motion detector that triggers a HISS of harmless air to shoo trespassing cats away from forbidden areas. You can also cover forbidden surfaces like stovetops with aluminum foil. Many cats dislike walking on this surface.
  • Apply Sticky Paws(double-sided tape) to keep cats off furniture and make other surfaces uncomfortable. Put the Sticky Paws on placemats set around on forbidden surfaces, so you can easily position them but remove them when needed.
  • You can also use clear plastic carpet runners placed spike-side up on tabletops so cats will avoid the area.
keep cats off counters

Offering a legal scratch target is one of the easiest ways to stop the claw damage.

Give Cats Legal Perching Options

Offer your cats legal outlets that are higher and more attractive than the forbidden zones. Since felines prefer the highest perch, they’ll choose the legal perches and leave your mantel alone.

Cat trees are a big hit. Be sure to offer cats legal scratch objects with scratching posts. Fancy ones are available from pet products stores, or you can make inexpensive fun feline furniture out of a ladder. Tie toys and ribbons onto the rungs, place a fluffy cat bed on the paint rack, glue rope around and around a step for a scratch surface, and you have an innovative cat gymnasium.

Consider creating a cat playground with kitty shelves that let cats lounge on wall shelves away from your furniture.

Choose your battles and perhaps allow cats to lounge on the television as long as they leave the kitchen island alone. Place a cat bed on a “legal” countertop or bookshelf to invite the cats’ presence and they’ll be less likely to trespass where not welcome.

Do YOUR cats stomp all over your counters or forbidden tabletops? How do you manage the issue? Please share your solutions in the comments!

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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

3 Comments

  1. caren gittleman

    This was a great post. Cody has a HORRIBLE habit of going on the dining room table (where I work instead of using my “office”) and he chews on anything and everything he can find if I am not feeding or treating him fast enough. My husband does the handclapping thing……….I am meaner…..I sometimes clang a lid on a pot………he jumps down and 2 seconds later he is right back on the table. Cody is EXTREMELY stubborn, I hate to use belligerent but he is!!!!!!! My Angel Bobo would be visibly upset if I was upset with him. Not Cody. He doesn’t care one bit if I have just yelled at him. When my husband claps his hands Cody will jump down and then goes right back on the table. Often it is Dakota who “busts” him……..Dakota will see him on the table and will bark to get our attention if we didn’t see Cody (Dakota is my Mama’s Boy resident “Narc” lol). Cody has THREE cat trees, tons of toys………he is food obsessed and when he is angry with me he has the bad chewing behavior. He will chew ANYTHING. It is a miracle he has made it to nearly 12 years old………..seriously! I adore him but Cody is my “arrogant fat gray bastard” lol!! (I am saying that with total LOVE!!) xoxo

    Reply
    • caren gittleman

      i forgot to say I should maybe give that Sticky Paws that you mentioned a try……my luck I would be the one stuck on it! lol

      Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Hahaha! Karma has also gotten to the point that if I don’t do what he wants (pet him, feed him) he threatens to bite. And…then I dump him off my lap or wherever and he gets ignored for 2 minutes. Caren, I suspect the attraction to the table, in this case, is YOU being there. *s* I wonder if you pulled out a chair next to you, with a cat bed or treat or something on it whether he’d hang out there instead?

      Reply

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