A cats first kitchen counter exploration stems from curiosity, a way to test those leaping skills and discover where empty food cans go after eating. But Fluffys counter hopping habit is now obnoxious — sipping from the dripping faucet, seeking out dinner scraps, and swiping glass mugs to the tile below. Youre at your breaking point, so how do you keep cats off kitchen counters?
To keep cats off kitchen counters, lay aluminum foil or double-sided tape on the edge, remove tables and chairs from the area, and keep your counters food-free. You can also use citrus-based cleaners, shut the shades to block sunlight, or buy a cat water fountain (if the faucet is the main target).
Short of installing a baby gate in the kitchen doorway, keeping cats off kitchen counters requires persistence, time, and effort. As the old saying goes, ‘Old habits die hard.’ To learn how to keep cats off kitchen counters, read on!
Table of Contents
Remove Tables, Chairs, and Stools From the Area
An agile cat can clear 5-6′ (1.52-1.83m) obstacles with ease, landing gracefully (and on all-fours) on everything from bedroom dressers to small refrigerators. A standard 36″ (91.44cm) tall kitchen countertop is child’s play. However, arthritic, overweight, and senior cats notoriously struggle with gravity and weak lift-offs, finding a roundabout way to return to their old stomping ground (and find meaty scraps) instead.
Observe as your kitty navigates up to the kitchen counter. If Fluffys using the kitchen chair, a step stool, or a nearby table as a makeshift staircase, the solution is simple! Slide this furniture away from the area so that theres no easy pathway from the floor.
Store Uneaten Food & Wipe Surfaces Immediately
Fluffy may not beg for a cold-cut slice or dig through the trash for dinner scraps like Fido. But these carnivorous critters have a striking sense of smell thats some 14 times stronger than ours. That means cats can smell that lone beef chunk, greasy skillet, and abandoned turkey left to cool.
If your cats countertop voyages lead to stolen food scraps or licking, kitchen cleanliness is your Achilles heel. Store all foods in locked Tupperware, clean up leftovers immediately, and wipe your counters down with warm water and dish soap (to scrub away the smell). After consecutive scavenging sessions with no success, this bothersome counter-hopping should end!
Close the Shades & Block Out the Sunlight
The classic American kitchen isnt complete without a large window behind the sink. From the interior designers perspective, these windows brighten up a gloomy eating space and offer a majestic view of the vegetable garden out back.
But cats discover more practical purposes for these very same windows: Lying belly-up in the suns rays for warmth or plopping down on the window sill to monitor the mice by the shed. There are several other windows in the house with sun and a view; shut those kitchen shades or blinds!
Buy a Water Fountain as a Faucet Alternative
Does a flowing water obsession fuel your cats kitchen counter habit? Oddly enough, that’s 100% normal. Despite the long-held belief that cats hate or even fear water, they desperately need H2O to remain hydrated, and rushing water is more likely to be fresh and bacteria-free.
But leaving the kitchen faucet on a drip 24/7 until your cat is thirsty will only run up the water bill. Instead, set-up a trickling water fountain explicitly designed for cats. Not only will these devices keep Fluffy’s dirty paws away from the sink and that juicy steak dinner, but it’ll also provide crisp, clean water flushed through both foam and carbon filters.
Satisfy Those Heights Urges Elsewhere (Cat Trees)
Cats boast a hardwired instinct to be up high in a towering turret with a 360° view — shying away from predators and keeping a watchful eye on scurrying prey. If those giant leaps end with a nap atop the refrigerator, the problem is likely vertical space (or lack thereof).
Lure that daredevilish cat away from the counters by scattering cat towers (or trees), suction cup window perches, or a cat shelf labyrinth around the house. That way, Fluffy can explore uncharted territories without leaving stray hairs in your mixing bowl or paw prints in your uncooked rice.
Lay an Aluminum Foil Sheet Along the Edge
The relationship between our four-legged pals and aluminum foil is tumultuous (to put it mildly). Between the high-pitched crinkle and unusually smooth or slippery texture, even planting a single paw on aluminum foil is enough to startle most cats. Tape aluminum foil along the countertop edge, and watch that once fearless kitty second guess her next death-defying leap.
The aluminum foil method isnt foolproof, but its almost always comical to witness first-hand. The video below broadcasts one cats struggle with this mysterious, shiny, and crunchy minefield:
Attach Double-Sided Tape to the Counters Edge
The double-sided tape method follows the same logic as the old aluminum foil trope. Theres little that cats dislike more than getting sticky residue trapped on their paws, impairing their ability to retract or bare their claws and wiggle their toes freely. Lie doubled-sided tape along the kitchen counter, and witness Fluffys confusion the moment her paw contacts that unexpected adhesive!
Practice Clicker Training To Break the Habit
The problem with many old-school cat training techniques is that theyre deep-rooted in negative reinforcement or punishment. Take the example of spritzing a misbehaving cat with a spray bottle when the cat lands on a counter. Rather than learning not to jump onto the countertop, your cat associates an uncomfortably wet coat with you, potentially harming your bond.
Clicker training is the modern “gold standard” in both the cat and dog training communities. The trick with this tactic is rewarding your cat for good behaviors, like cozying up on a high cat tower perch when she’d typically pursue the kitchen counter route. “Click” your clicker as soon as your kitty does the right thing, offer a treat, and your cat will associate this good behavior with rewards.
Wipe Countertops With Citrus-Based Cleaners
Nothing intrigues Fluffys robust olfactory receptors like protein and fat-based scents. But cats noses are also ultra-sensitive in the opposite direction — aromas they despise. Next time you wipe down your kitchen counters, use a citrus-based cleaner scented like oranges, lemons, lavender, or peppermint (all of which irritate cats).
If you want to take this strategy to new extremes, place orange or lemon peels on the countertop in your cats favorite lounge spots.
If All Else Fails, Remove Sharp & Fragile Items
Felines are notorious boundary-testers, and if you leave chicken breast on a baking pan and walk away, double-sided tape and citronella cleaners wont make a difference. If all else fails, cat-proof your countertops to keep you (and everyone else) safe. That means:
- Storing all glass and easily breakable items in a cabinet
- Keeping all sharp utensils in a drawer or dishwasher (not on the counter)
- Hiding all potentially toxic things (i.e., grapes, lilies, and household cleaners)
- Piling items and mats around the dangerous areas (i.e., block access to a hot stove)
All ten of these solutions are tried-and-true, but rebellious cats will always find a loophole.
Try the steps above in order. That way, you’ll attempt the most uncomplicated methods first, like blocking access or removing whatever’s luring your fuzzball up there in the first place. If the first five methods fail, you have a far tougher behavioral challenge on your hands.
Solutions six through ten are last-ditch efforts to keep a determined kitty away from the hot stove, fresh-baked cookies, or fragile chinaware (for everyones safety). The lack of stray hairs and litter specks around your kitchen is a bonus!
- Wikipedia: Carnivore
- PAWS Chicago: Cat Senses —How Felines Perceive the World
- Cats International: Clicker Training
- VCA Hospitals: Arthritis in Cats
- PetMD: Why Do Cats Like Heights?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.