Tips for Keeping Cats Off Kitchen Counters

Apartment Therapy's Home Remedies

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An all-too-familiar dinner party scenario: at the home of friends, you're sipping a glass of wine while your hosts put the finishing touches on dinner. Then their beloved cat does its business in the litter box, licks itself a bit, and proceeds to hop up on the kitchen counters right where your dinner is being made...

The cat then wanders all over the counters, pausing now and then to lick and paw particularly interesting spots, perhaps even nosing the ingredients. Particularly bold and limber cats will step over the prepared food, forcing you to imagine the hair and kitty litter they're leaving behind. You as a guest are eternally grateful for your hosts' generosity and good company, but you're no longer psyched about the dinner aspect of the dinner party.

So what's a devoted cat-lover to do?

  • Let's start out with an excellent quote from the ASPCA: Rather than spraying your cat with water when they jump on a forbidden counter, "arrange for the environment to punish your cat directly." "Balance some lightweight cookie sheets on the edge of the counter. When your cat jumps up, she’ll land on the sheets. They’ll move and possibly topple over, making some unpleasant noise while she leaps back onto the floor."
  • If you don't want your cats on your cookie sheets and your cookie sheets on the floor (or if you only own one cookie sheet), Huffington Post recommends using cheap, recyclable aluminum foil.
  • The Humane Society advises making your counters unpleasantly sticky, either DIY-style using double-sided tape, or using readymade products.
  • This Old House notes that cats hate the feel of sandpaper underfoot, so you could lay it on your counters when you're not cooking.
  • If your counters are your cat's idea of a little piece of heaven, Petfinder recommends simple ways to make them less enjoyable, like pulling down the blinds to block the basking sun — and the view of the bird feeder.
  • According to The Nest's Pet column, a peppermint solution can be sprayed on countertops to deter cats — and to make your kitchen minty fresh.
  • WikiHow has similar advice involving black pepper, lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, and lavender — delicious.
  • One of my favorite solutions comes from Pawnation: "Some experts recommend clicker training. This method involves training your cat to jump off the counter on a cue word, like 'off'. When the cat follows your cue, click the clicker, then reward your cat with a treat." Positive reinforcement!

And if your cats do occasionally traipse around your countertops? VetStreet wants you to protect your health —and the health of your guests — by cleaning the surfaces thoroughly before preparing food. Hot water, soap, and an antibacterial agent should do the trick.

(Image credits: Rohde's "Opportunistic" Design Laboratory)

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