How to Train a Cat to Stay Off Counters

You love your fluffy feline with all your heart, however, you do not love it when they hop on the counters. We understand.

That’s why we are sharing tips on how to train your cat to stay off counters.

But first, let’s address a few reasons why cats love to climb up your countertops.

The Reasons Cats Love Counters

There are multiple reasons cats are drawn to counters, especially kitchen ones. For example:  

  • The kitchen may smell good to them from that tuna in your sandwich or your freshly bought turkey.
  • Many cats are drawn to running water.
  • Let’s be real, cats are contrary. (It’s part of their charm!). They are drawn to areas they’re not always supposed to be in.
  • Felines love climbing and heights.

We can use the last point to your advantage. But first…

Wait…Why Do Cats Like to Be Up High?

Remember that cats were not always domesticated creatures using litter boxes; they come from a line of animals that survived in the wild and were tree-climbers. Because climbing was good for safety and survival, it became an essential trait and hard-wired in cats.

This affects your feline’s behavior today.

It’s important to understand that modern cats still enjoy being high up where they can view surroundings from above.

They are not jumping on counters to peeve you but out of instinct. Here are solutions to satiate their desires and keep counters and cook stations fur-free!

Reward Good or Accepted Climbing Habits

Knowing how much cats love to climb, give your pet a place to let his inner tiger or tigress roam free.

For example, get a tall climbing structure. When they reach the top on their own personal Mt. Everest, reward them with a treat and/or cuddles.

Just like humans, cats are more likely to repeat behavior that reaps benefits.

If continually rewarded, this persuades them to climb the structure rather than counters.

Make Counters Uncomfortable

In a safe way, you can implement types of remote correction. This is a method of reinforcement where you do not have to be present and that is safe for your cat (we never ever want to do anything that might hurt them) – but still dissuade the cat from wanting to jump up.

Essentially, you make the counter a place that feels awkward or unpleasant for them to be on.

Put down crinkly paper or a baking sheet

They will not like the noise and unexpected movement that happens upon hopping up; they will come to associate that sensation with the counters and be less likely to go onto them.

Use a textured mat

Certain textures, especially ones that feel “sticky” will be annoying or uncomfortable under your cat’s furry feet.

Use a Motion-Detected or Activated Alarm

There are a variety of options for alarms or methods to “startle” your cat, which will make their minds associate the counters as a bad or uncomfortable place to be.

Here are a few examples:

  • Invest in an alarm that activates a blast of air from a sensor. If its the right type of safety device, it will work. When they enter the “wrong” area, it activates the alarm and shoots out a blast of air, which your kitty will not enjoy. Another option is a repellent that issues a noise (inaudible to humans) that annoys the cat. When motion is detected, a high-pitched squeal goes off that only cats can hear.

Do NOT Punish Cats

Whatever method(s) you try, remember this: Cats do not do well with punishment; it typically doesn’t connect to the bad behavior and instead just scares them. Rewards work much better.

*For all pet training and pet care, it is always recommended to consult with your vet professional and/or dog training professional.


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