Even though cats may have a reputation for being anti-social, many cat owners have found the opposite to be true. Often, cats are very social with their owners and will go out of their way to be in the same room as the people who love and care for them. Though this is heartwarming and “aww”-inducing, it can also sometimes be very inconvenient and maybe even dangerous, especially in the kitchen. 

cat sitting on kitchen counter

In order to be close to the action, your cat may consistently choose to find a spot to rest on your counter — even after repeated attempts to stop them from doing so. In this article, we will look at the reasons why cats enjoy being up on counters and also suggest some tips to help keep your counters clean and feline-free.

Why Do Cats Love Counters?

To new cat owners, it may be a surprise to discover that your feline friend enjoys spending time on your kitchen counters — and you may be wondering why they seem to like a place that doesn’t seem particularly comfortable to you and me. 

Cats have a tendency to like perching on high spaces, as it gives them an opportunity to survey their surroundings. Cats are known for their curiosity, and being perched up high gives them a chance to know what’s going on all around them. 

“It comes from their instinct to protect themselves,” explains one vet practice, “and a high position for sleeping or resting gives them an aerial advantage for spotting any potential dangers around them. Much of this instinct comes from their ancestry”

In other words, this behavior is not unlike the domesticated cat’s bigger, wilder cousins, who may perch in trees in order to survey the surrounding land, checking for both predators and prey.

Additionally, cats are internally wired and designed to jump and land easily and safely. That is why they often seek out other places off the floor, such as tables and bookshelves, where other animals are far less likely to tread. 

While they may participate in this behavior largely due to instinct, if they find crumbs or food morsels on these higher areas, they may be more likely to return to those areas often. If you have cats who engage in this behavior, it is important to make sure there are no foods left out that could be dangerous to your furry friend, such as garlic, onion, or bread dough.

How to Stop Your Cat From Jumping on Counters

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you work to find strategies that will work for your family and your pet:

Provide Alternatives

One of the simplest ways to keep your cats from jumping on counters is to give them the opportunity to practice the same behavior in a way that is more acceptable to you. For example, buying your cat a “tree” may provide your furry friend a way to climb without following you into the kitchen.

If your cat seems to jump up on the counters in the search of a few crumbs, you could provide your kitten with a food puzzle, either bought or homemade. Using this toy, your cat will still get to experience the thrill of the hunt, without climbing onto places you would rather them avoid.

If your cat seems to be jumping up on the counter in order to survey its surroundings, you may want to provide your cat with other high vantage points around the house. As mentioned before, cat trees are one way to do this. 

Dr. Aimee Simpson, Medical Director at VCA Cat Hospital of Philadelphia says, “When placed near a window, a cat tree is even more entertaining for your cat.” 

While a cat tree or condo is enough for many cats, some cat owners go so far as to install ledges and shelves around their house for their cats to use. 

Make Your Counters Unappealing to Your Cat

While providing alternative ways for your cat to explore, climb, and hunt for food are a good first step, preventive measures won’t always work to keep your cat from your kitchen counters. If you are finding that your cat is still jumping on your counters despite being provided alternatives, you may need to go a step further and work to make your counters unpleasant for them.

One way you can discourage your cat from jumping on your counters is to make them texturally undesirable by lining the edges with aluminum foil or double-sided tape. Cats have an aversion to these objects, which may be enough of a deterrent to stop the undesirable behavior.

You can also buy products that are designed to stop cats from getting on counters, such as a sensor that plays a loud tone when the cat lands on your counters, or one that delivers a static shock. There are also motion sensors that spray an unscented aerosol spray when movement is detected. 

These measures can feel extreme and may even be traumatizing to certain cats, though, so consider when they may be most appropriate. Also, as Dr. Simpson advocates, “after a few experiences jumping onto the modified countertop, your cat will develop an avoidance behavior, and you can remove the deterrent.”

Provide Praise

When trying to retrain your cat into staying off of your counters, it is important to praise good behavior when you see your cat exhibiting it. For instance, if your cat is playing on their cat tree or chooses to jump into a chair or on the sofa instead of jumping on the counter, reward them with praise, attention, and maybe a treat to help reinforce this desired behavior. This positive attention will go much farther in helping your cat change their behavior, and it is more effective than giving them negative attention when they engage in behavior you would not prefer.

Board Your Cat at Greenlin Pet Resorts

If you are planning on going on a trip and are worried about your furry friend exploring your counters while you’re away, consider sending your feline companion to Greenlin Pet Resorts. 

With five convenient locations in central Pennsylvania, a happy and safe environment is never too far out of reach. Our knowledgeable and professional staff are ready to care for your cat in your absence and provide your pet with a home away from home! 

When you choose to board your cat at Greenlin Pet Resorts, your cat will have access to many amenities, including personalized attention, storytime, their own cat condo, and daily wellness checks. Contact us today to arrange a visit or reserve a spot in one of our convenient locations!