New advice on a kitten who will NOT stay off table/counter (I've tried everything!!)

Hi! Two weeks ago, I adopted a 3 m.o. kitten (Gatsby). I love him, but he WILL NOT stay off the table & counter. I'm very consistent in making him get down, but do allow him to climb on the couch and other safe places.
Every time he jumps onto the table or counter I say “no” and place him on the ground. I frequently spray him with a water bottle (even when he can't see me), but he ignores it. I have also tried several types of “cat repellent” and they don’t affect him. He thinks tape and tin foil are fun, so those options are out. And making loud noises/giving him time outs haven’t worked.
It’s too dangerous for him to be climbing on the stove/kitchen sink, especially while he is so small. And I can't do homework with him leaping at my computer/chasing my pen/knocking papers on the ground.
It’s OK if this is just kitten behavior, and will eventually fade. If so, when will that happen? I know training cats isn't easy. But I would love some new advice :) Thanks!

Asked by Member 1023443 on Feb 15th 2011 Tagged kitten, counter, table, training in Other Behavior & Training
Report this question Get this question's RSS feed Send this question to a friend


  • Cast your vote for which answer you think is best!



I use a spray bottle with water. A specific color and shape that I use for nothing else. Don't use one like the ones you use for cleaning or they will get scared every time you clean something. Just spritz them once and they will get down. Do it consistently. Everytime you walk into a room and he's up there, he should get down immediately because he knows what will happen. It's harmless and won't cause them to fear you the way loud clapping or yelling might. It works fantastically for my cats.

Marshall answered on 2/15/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I was watching a "cat behavior expert" on Animal Planet the other day and she had suggested that the people get a cat tree and place it near the counter to provide the proper place to go up and look down on his world instead of the counter top. They were using treats and teaching him to go on the cat tree when they tapped it with a stick. He got a treat whenever he went there when he was told. And then they put plastic placemats with double sided sticky tape on them on the counter to make the places he liked to go as unpleasant as possible. But the important part was that they gave him someplace that he was allowed to go up high as a substitute for the counters and table and it seemed to be working. But any behavior he develops now will probably not go away on it's own when he gets older. It will just be easier to get up there and will have become a habit.

Allie answered on 2/15/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Izadore (Izzie)

I am one of those very weird and disgusting people whom it doesn't bother when my cats get up on the counter. They have to to eat because we have 2 dogs who LOVE catfood. Izzie encountered a hot burner/stove once and he never went near them again. Cats LOVE to be up high so they can survey their "catdom", so the cat tree idea is an excellent one. Just don't put it where they can jump off and onto the counter. Cat repellants don't work. And Izzie, too, LOVES water. Try shaking a popcan with a few pennies in it at him. He probably won't like the noise of that as much as the spraying. Make sure your counters are completely free of food, dishes, etc. If you do your homeowrk at the counter, he just wants to be with you so try doing it someplace he CAN get up on to be social. Btw--my computer has been at the shop twice when Izzie stood on a key and blew it's mind. I've learned to type holding him off with one hand and typing with the other! Good luck and hugs to your baby!

Izadore (Izzie) answered on 2/16/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


As for the counter--the tree idea is excellent. Cats really shouldn't be on counters because they carry germs on their feet and because they can get hurt--Henry has also managed to set himself on fire twice. Gatsby is 3 months old, and yes, he will calm down eventually, although he'll probably still want to get on the counter. Can you at least keep him in another room when you're cooking? Or keep the kitchen door always shut? As for him bothering you when you do your homework, he will probably calm down eventually, but as Izzie says, cats can destry computers. Harvard destroyed three in three months. (He's calmed down a bit since then.) Also, remember that cats can't be "trained" the way you train dogs. They lack the instinct to try to please their master. Rather, they train YOU to convince them to think that what you want them to do/not do is what they want as well. Some cats seem unable to connect "punishment" (spraying with water, etc.) and their actions. Good luck!

Harvard answered on 2/16/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Paul Hewson of ExaltedCat

I prefer squirt guns to spray bottles because of the accuracy and strength of the stream. Aim for the face as water tends to be only annoying on the furrier parts.

The "shaker can" can be effective if the cat is startled by loud noises. You can set up multiple cans on a piece of newspaper. When he jumps up, the paper should move and the cans fall over, making lots of noise.

Don't pick him up as this is interpreted as a positive thing; instead loudly smack whatever surface he's on, gradually getting closer to him until he jumps down, then IMMEDIATELY reward him with praise, love, or a treat. Let him know that you find this a serious matter with the tone of your voice.

If none of these work, try a ScatMat (called something else now). It utilizes a 9 volt battery to emit an intermittent mild (adjustable) shock. It is unpleasant enough that they soon avoid the area. It's best to keep it as hidden as possible as they will learn where the sensation comes from.

Paul Hewson of ExaltedCat answered on 3/3/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Try putting tinfoil on the counter where the cat jumps. Cats hate the feeling and sound of it. Eventually they'll think there's always tinfoil there and stay off.

Member 1033883 answered on 5/15/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer