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Help! Counter-Cruising Kitty

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
Edison

I rule my- humans!
 
 
Purred: Mon Apr 29, '13 5:41pm PST 
I have owned cats my entire life and none of them have liked to cruise counters as much as my recent adoptee, Edison.

Edison is just over a year old, so I understand that still warrants plenty of kitten behavior, but his habit of consistently hopping on countertops while my boyfriend and I are cooking is becoming both annoying and dangerous (we cook with lots of things not safe for kitty, like onions, garlic, and the like).

At first, we resisted the spray bottle. Our cats (Edison has a brother, Tesla) are so loving and adorable that we didn't want them to resent us in any way. We put double-sided tape on an entire length of countertop; it only mildly inconvenienced them. We rubbed citrus rinds on the counter; they sniffed it and went on exploring. We bought Nature's Repellent Cat Block spray; they don't mind it one bit. Then we gave into the spray bottle.

Tesla quickly learned that the spray bottle (combined with a forceful "down!") meant he had to get off the counter; now he USUALLY hangs around on the kitchen floor while we're cooking -- except on days he decides to be particularly curious. Edison, on the other hand, gives absolutely no f***s whatsoever. Absolutely none. If we spray him, he just shrinks against the counter and squints his eyes (which is so painfully adorable, by the way) until we stop (we usually can't handle it after a few sprays), and then just keeps on keeping on with whatever he was doing before.

Today, we dabbed a bit of Bitter Apple on the counter where he likes to jump, and he didn't like that. But like the other deterrents, it only mildly inconvenienced him; after a few minutes he didn't even notice the smell.

We mainly just pick the kitties up and put them down (while forcefully saying "down!" in hopes that they understand Englishlaugh out loud) but this is quite tiresome, since after reaching the floor it typically only takes a few seconds for one or the other to climb back up. Counter, down, counter, down, wash, rinse, repeat. Ugh.

Does anyone have any tips (methods that we haven't thought of, perhaps?) for keeping kitties off the counter or turning us into more tolerant cat owners? Many thanks!
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Trek

Monster of- Mayhem
 
 
Purred: Mon Apr 29, '13 10:09pm PST 
Hey, if anyone can help Edison, I'll be all ears because God bless him, I can't keep Trekkie off the countertops, out of my kitchen cabinets (his new obsession), and out of my refrigerator (I swear, I feed this cat, despite his actions to the contrary).
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Monster

It's all about- me.
 
 
Purred: Tue Apr 30, '13 2:55pm PST 
I, too, am guilty of the countersurfing. Mainly I'm looking for food, even when there isn't any there. Mom and the husband yell at me all the time, and I know I'm not supposed to be up there, but I just can't help myself.

Mom recommends that you read about clicker training. She has taught me some cute tricks and thinks it could somehow be used to train kitties to stay off the counter (although she hasn't tried it on me yet!) Once you kitties are trained to respond to the clicker, maybe your mom could use it to lure you off the counter instead of using deterrents which don't deter you. Karen Pryor is the queen of clicker training. www.clickertraining.com
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Edison

I rule my- humans!
 
 
Purred: Tue Apr 30, '13 4:11pm PST 
I've read all about clicker training and think it's a fabulous idea. I have a clicker, and I've sort of taught my boys to sit. Sort of. It's really hard clicker training with two cats (they hate being separated even by a door so I can't get one-on-one time with either of them) because sometimes Edison will steal Tesla's reward for sitting. I fear training them to stay off the counter with this method would be next to impossible.

Thankfully, I'm moving to a new place in a few months and will be able to start positive reinforcement for not being on the counter on Day 1. Do you think it's confusing that we're indifferent to their counter surfing except when we're making food? That's something we need to work on as well, but we can't keep them off the counters when we're both at work.
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Monster

It's all about- me.
 
 
Purred: Thu May 2, '13 8:28am PST 
I recall that Jackson Galaxy handled this exact situation on one of his shows recently. It was a young male cat who wasn't a cat from hell, just typically energetic and curious. He was constantly on the counters, which pissed the boyfriend off royally (the boyfriend knew nothing about cats and felt the cat was directing his behavior specifically at him). Anyway, Jackson recommended clicker training kitty to sit on a stool next to the counter when food prep was in progress. It worked!

Lord knows what Monster is doing when we're not home! I just don't think about it! This morning, instead of kicking him off the counter 20 times, I picked him up and put him on the shelf of his cat tree, which is nearby in the morning room (we have an open plan house). He settled down and went to sleep.
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Fuggles

Purrs like a- Harley
 
 
Purred: Sat Jun 1, '13 5:07am PST 
I've read that putting double sided sticky tape on his jumping spots will deter him quickly. Kitty's apparently can't stand the adhesive feeling. I have the same issue with Fuggles at the moment, but luckily for me he can't stand being squirted with water.
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