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Does Aluminum Foil Keep Cats Off Counters? Why it Works & Alternatives

Written by: Gregory Iacono

Last Updated on June 7, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

a roll of aluminum foil on countertop

Does Aluminum Foil Keep Cats Off Counters? Why it Works & Alternatives

Many cat parents struggle to keep cats off their kitchen counters. Cats love jumping up on counters and, unfortunately, love knocking things off the counter. Plus, let’s be honest: cats walking around where you prepare food for your family isn’t exactly the epitome of hygiene.

If you’re a cat owner frustrated by your cat’s repeated leaps onto your kitchen counters, there’s one possible solution: putting aluminum foil on your countertops. Supposedly, cats hate aluminum foil so much that they won’t walk on it. Putting it on your countertops, the aluminum foil advocates say, will keep your cats away.

Is it true that aluminum foil will keep cats off counters? We did the research, and yes, it does appear to be true that cats will avoid aluminum foil. Most cats don’t like how aluminum foil feels under their paws, get scared by their reflection in the foil, and hate the crinkly noise it makes when they step on it. It has to do with their hearing, which is significantly more sensitive than humans.

Does aluminum foil work for all cats? Not exactly, as some are bolder than others. Plus, once they get used to the odd sensation and noise, most cats lose their fear of aluminum foil and will jump onto it without fear. In short, even if it does work, aluminum foil is usually no more than a temporary solution.

Now that you know that aluminum foil works to keep cats off counters (sometimes), you might have other questions about how to keep your frisky feline from jumping up where they shouldn’t be. How does aluminum foil work to deter cats, for example, and what other methods can you use to keep them off your countertops? Below, we have the answers and hacks that might help you solve the problem and keep your cat from turning your countertops into their own personal playground.

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The 4 Reasons Why Aluminum Foil Keeps Cats off Countertops

As we’ve mentioned, aluminum foil keeps cats off of countertops, at least for a short time, until they get used to it. However, some cats never get used to it and stay far away from your countertops when aluminum foil spreads over them. There are a few reasons why this happens.

1. Cats Don’t Like the Way Aluminum Foil Feels

First, cats don’t like the feel of aluminum under their paws. Cats are all about smooth surfaces under their toes and aluminum foil has rough edges. Also, many cat parents have learned that they can crinkle aluminum foil and flatten it. This method gives the foil even more of a rough feel which cats like even less.

aluminum foil
Image Credit: Rupert Kittinger-Sereinig, Pixabay

2. Cats Don’t Like the Sound Aluminum Foil Makes

One fact about cats you need to know (if you don’t already) is that their hearing is three times as acute as humans. That means your cat can hear noise in a frequency range much higher than you can, including the high-pitched noise that aluminum foil makes when they walk on it. To you, the crinkling noise from aluminum is no big deal, but it’s as if someone is scratching their nails on a chalkboard for your cat.

3. Cats Get Freaked Out by Their Reflection

Another reason aluminum foil can sometimes keep cats off countertops is that they can see themselves reflected in the foil. Cats don’t have the awareness to know they’re looking at themself when they see their reflection, which can scare, shock, or anger them.

4. Cats Don’t Like Water

What does water have to do with aluminum foil? The foil resembles water when laid flat, and most cats are not fans of H20. Cats will steer clear if they see something that even looks like it might get them wet.

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The 7 Alternatives to Keep Cats Off Countertops

Aluminum foil might work, but it might not, leaving you with the same problem as before. Below are several other methods you can use to possibly keep your kitties from jumping on the counter.

1. Give Them Another Outlet for Jumping and Climbing

Cats climb on countertops and other high areas in your home to get a better vantage point from which to see their world. More than that, they do it because their hunting instinct tells them to; the higher they are, the better they can hunt birds and other small animals.

Many cat parents provide a “cat tree” or other platform made specifically for felines. With a cat tree, your cat gets the vantage point they want while you get relief from cats on your counters. If you get a cat tree, place it near a window so your cat can climb up and get a great view of your yard.

2. Use Sticky Double-Sided Tape

hand sticked to a roll of double-sided tape
Image Credit: Ekaterina43, Shutterstock

This solution can get messy. All you do is put double-sided tape on the edge of your countertop, which cats will avoid because, like aluminum foil, they hate the way it feels. The drawback is that all sorts of stuff will stick to the tape, including fur, crumbs, dust, dirt, etc. After a few days, the tape will start getting dirty and need to be replaced. Depending on how many cats and how much cooking you do, changing the tape every few days might be more hassle than it’s worth.

3. Close the Curtains in Front of Your Kitchen Windows

As mentioned earlier, cats climb on counters to get a better view. If the view they want is from your kitchen window looking into your yard, closing the curtains in front of that window should be a good deterrent.

4. Place a Cat Shelf in Front of a Window

blue point siamese cat lying by the window
Image By: Lucie K, Shutterstock

Rather than taking away their view of the outside world, why not put up a small shelf right in front of a window to give your cat a great view? Your cat won’t climb on your counters if they have a better option for scouting the local critter population outside.

5. Spray Mint on Your Countertops

Like their sense of hearing, a cat’s sense of smell is very acute, and they don’t like potent odors. One of the aromas they particularly detest is mint, so spraying mint on your counters should keep them off. Here’s how:

  1. Grab a small spray bottle.
  2. Place 5 or 6 drops of mint oil in the bottle.
  3. Fill the rest with lukewarm water.
  4. Shake vigorously.
  5. Spray the water/mint mix on your countertops daily.

6. Place Heavy Plastic on Your Countertops

countertop covered with plastic
Image By: AnikonaAnn, Shutterstock

Like aluminum foil, most cats don’t like the feel and noise of walking on plastic, especially heavy plastic like a plastic drop cloth used for painting. Here’s how to use plastic to keep your cats off your counters:

  1. Cut a piece of heavy plastic slightly larger than your countertop.
  2. Lay the plastic over the counter when you’re not using it.
  3. Let a few inches hang over the side, so your cats see the plastic.
  4. Tape the plastic down on both sides so it doesn’t fall off.

7. Never Leave Food on Your Countertops

This last method of keeping cats off your countertops is simple; dont leave food up there. Cats, like most mammals, are always looking for a snack. If they know there’s yummy stuff on your countertop, your cat will jump up to have a look.

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What Not to Do to Keep Your Cats Off Your Counters

It’s essential to keep your cat off your countertop and teach them that it’s not OK to be up there. On the other hand, having a good relationship with your cat and treating them kindly is also important, which is why some methods of preventing them from jumping on countertops might not be a great idea.

Some methods include:
  • Spraying your cat with water. It’s not harmful, but it might make your cat hate you. Plus, it’s very confusing to them.
  • Swatting your cat with something. Hitting a defenseless animal with anything is never a good idea.
  • Petting them when they jump on the counter. Petting is a sign you’re happy and will say to your cat, “This behavior is OK.” Better to shoo them away instead.
  • Yelling at your cat. Cats don’t realize what’s happening when you yell, which can stress them out and cause anxiety, leading to other types of unwanted behavior.

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Final Thoughts

Does aluminum foil work to keep cats off counters? Yes, in some cases, it works. In others, though, it doesn’t or only works for a short time until they get used to the feel and noise of walking on it. In other words, your results with aluminum foil may vary. It’s not harmful to cats, and since it might work, it’s worth a try. If it doesn’t, the other methods we talked about today might, so don’t give up until you’ve tried them all.

Our recommendation for keeping cats off your counters is a cat tree, which gives your cat the vantage point they desire. Whatever method use choose, best of luck with it. Be patient, be kind, and remember that your cat isn’t up there because they’re bad; they just want a good look around.

Featured Image Credit: FabrikaSimf, Shutterstock

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