How to Keep Cats Off Counters

Some simple ways to keep those paws off the countertop.

Cat looking up at a counter.

Melissa Ross / Getty

It's in a cat's nature to seek out high vantage points like kitchen countertops. Counters, tables, and the tops of cabinets are an ideal place to survey territory, and they provide protection from enemies like roughhousing dogs and the vacuum cleaner. Felines might also be drawn to kitchen counters because they've learned that they're good places to find tasty morsels of food.

If you want your kitty to keep her paws off the counter, here's what to do.

Provide Another Place to Lounge

Because jumping and climbing are part of cats' normal behavior, you'll have to offer a suitable alternative or your feline friend will likely continue to leap onto countertops.

Carpeted cat tree furniture or kitty shelves attached to windowsills are two options that can replace a favorite counter.

Make the Counter Unappealing

If your cat prowls the kitchen counter looking for a snack, be sure to clean counters thoroughly and don't leave food sitting out.

If she enjoys staring out the window or napping in the sunshine, close the blinds or pull the shades down.

There are also many simple ways you can make the counter unappealing.

Try placing baking sheets on the edge of the counter so that when your cat jumps up, she'll land on them. The sheets will move and possibly fall, making noise that the cat will learn to associate with the counter.

Lining countertops with tinfoil, upside-down plastic rug protectors, or placemats covered in double-sided tape can also act as a deterrent. After a few weeks, when the cat has learned that the counter is no longer a comfortable place to lounge, you can remove the items.

The ASPCA also suggests using an "environmental punisher," such as The Snappy Trainer or the ScatMat. These devices deter cats from jumping on counters even when you're not home, so your pet won't learn to simply wait until you're not around.

What Not to Do

Don't shove, physically harm, shoo away or spray a cat with water. You could harm your pet, and often the cat will learn to be afraid of you—not the counter.

Also, don't use an environmental punisher if your kitty is especially skittish. The cat may become reluctant to even enter the room and this could lead to anxiety issues.

Why Pets Matter to Treehugger

At Treehugger, we are advocates of animal welfare, including our pets and other domestic animals. The better we understand our cats, the better we can support and protect their wellbeing. We hope our readers will adopt rescue pets instead of shopping from breeders or pet stores, and will also consider supporting local animal shelters.