Q: Why does my cat jump on the counter?
A: Food on the counter is a temptation, but that’s not the most compelling reason your cat cruises your countertop. Cats naturally seek high vantage points to observe their environment. The solution is to offer appealing alternatives.
Provide cat trees and multi-level cat condos for climbing, hiding and perching. Place them near the center of your living space so your cat can survey all the household action. (Bookshelves or wall ledges are other options.) A bored cat is more likely to act out, so play with your cat daily and provide her with interactive toys and food puzzles as well.
If you discover your cat on the counter, avoid yelling or spraying him with water. Cats are responsive to both negative and positive attention, so you’ll only reinforce unwanted behaviors by reacting dramatically. Instead, calmly pick up your cat and place him on his cat tree and praise him with attention or a treat. To reinforce good behavior, praise and reward him every time you find him on his condo. And be consistent—your cat won’t learn to use his perches if he’s sometimes allowed to get on the counter and sometimes not.
When you’re not at home, place deterrents on counters. Cats will generally learn to avoid anything that feels unpleasant on their feet. The Humane Society of the United States suggests special double-sided tape (sold at pet stores), plastic shower curtains or plastic carpet runners flipped over so the rubber nubs are exposed. You can also spray countertops with a mix of water and lemon juice because cats don’t like citrus smells.
By Arricca SanSone
Expert advice provided by Susan Sikule, DVM, practicing veterinarian and owner of Just Cats Veterinary Clinic in Guilderland and Saratoga Springs, New York.