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How To Keep Cats Off Kitchen Counters: 10 Effective Tips & Tricks

cat sitting on kitchen counter_LightField Studios, Shutterstock
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Jordyn Alger

Cats are curious creatures who love to explore their surroundings. This sometimes means that our cats get into things they shouldn’t or end up in strange places, but most often, it means that they won’t stay off the counters. When your cat constantly climbs on your countertops, then you are forced to constantly wipe the counters, which no one enjoys.

If you are looking for ways to keep your cat off the kitchen counters, we have some advice that might save you a lot of trouble.

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The 10 Ways To Keep Cats Off Kitchen Counters

1.  Remove Your Cat’s Temptations

Oftentimes, your cat wants to get on the counters because something up there is enticing them. If there is food on the counter, they will try to get it. If they can get it, then they will feel rewarded for the behavior and will continue to climb onto your counters.

Wipe down your counters after every meal, and promptly remove any ingredient when cooking. If any food needs to be kept on the counters, cover it with plastic wrap or place it in a container. The sooner that your cat learns he cannot get to any food from your counters, the less eager it will be to jump up there.

2. Reward Your Cat’s Desired Behavior

cat being fed a cat treat or cat food by hand
Image Credit: Jakub Zak, Shutterstock

If your cat is obsessed with climbing onto high places, then it will be hard to discourage it from jumping onto your countertops. In this instance, instead of trying to discourage his behavior, try encouraging the behavior you want to see.

Purchasing a treat dispenser and placing it on the floor may encourage your cat to remain on the floor to try and get treats. When it manages to get a treat, the behavior will be reinforced, and it will be more interested in staying on the floor than exploring the counters.

3. Avoid Punishing Your Cat

Punishment is not a good way to handle misbehavior in cats. Cats do not respond to it, because they do not understand that their behavior is causing the punishment. Punishing your cat comes with undesirable consequences too, as it can instill fear in your cat and make them distrust you. They may become wary of doing normal tasks, such as using their litter box, which could cause them to go to the bathroom outside of their litter box.

4. Play with Your Cat Often

cat playing with woman owner
Image Credit: Oleg Ivanov, Unsplash

If your cat is a more energetic sort, they may be climbing on your counters due to excess energy. Setting aside time to play with them each day can help burn energy and keep them from jumping up to places they shouldn’t.

Likewise, if your cat is feeling neglected, they may jump on counters when you use them to try and get your attention. Playing with them or otherwise spending time with them will help them to feel less neglected.

5. Offer Another Outlet for your Cat’s Climbing

While trying to keep your cat off the counters, don’t forget that it is in their nature to find high places. Cats will seek high spaces on instinct, and your counters often fall into that category. Your cat will almost always want to climb, so instead of trying to prevent the behavior, why not offer them an outlet?

If you can invest in a cat tree, a catio, or another structure that your cat can climb on, then you can begin rewarding them for climbing on these rather than on the counters. That way, it’s a win-win for both of you!

6. Make Sure You Don’t Have a Faucet Leak

cat drinking from faucet
Image Credit: Sample Stars, Shutterstock

Food on the counter may not be the only thing drawing your cat to jump up there. If your cat can access water from the sink, that may be part of the reason as well.

A leaky faucet may be encouraging your cat to climb your countertops for a drink of fresh water. The best way to limit this behavior is to fix the leak. However, don’t stop there. Ensure that your cat’s water bowl is clean and accessible. If anything is making your cat’s water bowl undesirable, he may not be getting enough water. Consider investing in a stainless-steel water fountain and refill the water often.

7. Keep Chairs Out of the Way

If your cat uses chairs or another piece of furniture to access the counters, try moving them away from the counter for a while. Don’t worry about reorganizing your entire house: this should be a temporary move, as a prolonged period of separation may be enough to break your cat’s counter-hopping habit. If your cat returns to his habit soon after removing the chairs, try again until the habit is officially broken.

8. Close the Blinds

cat looking through blinds
Image Credit: ForGaby, Shutterstock

Like food and water, your cat may be jumping on the counters because it gives them access to the sunshine. If there is a window by your counter, close the blinds to make the countertops less enticing.

Similarly, if your cat has a good view of the outdoors from your countertops, they may be inclined to jump up there to watch the outdoor world. Closing the blinds can discourage this habit.

If there is another spot where your cat could enjoy the sunshine or the view, such as a window ledge or a couch, consider opening those blinds for him so that they will be more interested in being there than on your counters.

9. Place Deterrents on the Counters

If you have tried everything you can to encourage your cat to find an outlet elsewhere, but nothing seems to work, then you may want to consider humane deterrents. You may have heard that some people use spray bottles of water to deter their cats, although this punishment is not recommended. Instead, use environmental deterrents that do not cause pain or fear, but rather a discomfort.

An example includes placing the tape, sticky side facing upwards, on the counter. Cats do not like the sticky feeling on their paws, so they won’t tolerate being on the counters for very long. Scat mats may also deter your cat.

10. Use Clicker Training

clicker for cats and dogs
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

When all else fails, you may need to take a more focused approach to training your cat. Clicker training is a great way to train cats, as it provides opportunities for positive reinforcement.

When your cat is on the counter, place a treat on the ground. Your cat will jump off the counter to get the treat, and when it does, use your clicker to make a sound. Eventually, your cat will begin to associate the sound with the reward and will promptly jump from the counter.

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A cat’s curiosity is a lovable trait, but that doesn’t mean it can’t cause trouble for us from time to time. If your cat has declared itself king of the countertops, try any number and combination of these tips and tricks to redirect the behavior. We hope you have found this list helpful and that your counters will remain cat-less in the future!

Featured Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

About the Author

Jordyn Alger
Jordyn Alger
Cats are Jordyn’s passion. Whenever she has the opportunity she loves to learn about animals and share her knowledge with everyone. She is devoted to her sassy tabby cat named Jack and works hard to buy him his favorite treats and toys. Discovering new ways to better care for her cat is always on her to-do list, and she is eager to help pet parents everywhere. In Jordyn's spare time, she loves to write, read, and take long walks. She has a creative spirit, which often helps her to come up with funny cat names.

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