Cats love to climb and may think that no perch is off limits.
Photo by Jenny Neyman
Cats are innately curious, but when their fascination leads them up on kitchen counters, it may be time to ground your feline friend literally.
Keeping kitty off the counters can be quite challenging. After all, cats love heights and counters and tables are tall, yet easily accessible furnishings.
Counters also can offer tempting items to reinforce a feline's desire to explore, from salmon fillets or chicken for the evening meal to running water in the sink which many cats relish drinking.
However, counter surfing is not without its hidden dangers. Everything from hot burners on the stove that a cat could step on to cleaning product residue that may remain on counters or in a sink that could possibly be ingested are potentially harmful to the family feline.
There are a few techniques pet owners can try to keep their cats on the floor. First and foremost is keeping counters clean. Anything that smells good to a cat or that could be considered a goody must be put away or moved out of reach before the real training can begin.
Another important point to keep in mind is to never hit or use any sort of physical punishment on a cat. This will only teach the cat to fear you.
Also, although with some cats the line can be a little blurry, try to remember that this is your pet and not a feral animal that just lives in the house.
As such, avoid techniques that could injure cats, such as placing upside-down rat traps on the counters, which some people believe will scare the cats back to the floor when they jump up and the traps snap shut.
That's not to say that fear can't be powerful motivation for keeping cats on the ground.
One technique employed to keep cats down involves scaring the cat.
This method entails lining the edge of counters with empty aluminum cans with a few pennies in each one. When the cat jumps up, the cans come down, making a racket and hopefully startling the cat back to the ground in the process.
Although both of the methods are effective, dissuading cats from certain behaviors like counter surfing tends to be better than scaring them out of doing these behaviors.
Spray bottles and squirt guns can be effective for dissuading cats. They can be shot from a distance so cats don't associate the punishment with their owner. Since most cats don't enjoy being wet, it doesn't take them long to associate the uncomfortable feeling with jumping on the counters.
A quick squirt can be effective when catching a cat in the act or preferable just as they are preparing to jump. The drawback to this method is it requires extreme vigilance and not every cat owner wants to spend their leisure time crouched in the corner with a children's water toy.
Also, the squirt method is only effective when the pet owner is present. Cats can learn to mind rules when being watched but go right back onto the counters when unattended.
Perhaps a more effective way to teach a cat to stay off the counters is to cover the counter or table surface with something they don't like.
Most pet owners can come up with a long list of items their furry friends could live without. Aluminum foil ranks high on the list and double-sided sticky tape is especially effective. Simply run strips along the edges of all the furniture that the cat is not wanted on and that won't be harmed by the tape adhesive, and the cat will usually be discouraged from jumping up their within a few tries.
Whichever method is used, consistency is important. Make rules and then stick to them.
Attempting to only keep the cat off the table when company is over for dinner will just confuse the cat and possibly offend the guests when the cat struts through the main course.
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