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How to keep a cat off the counter?

Luna from Kansas asks:

Hello Jimmie !

Thank you for creating Hepper.com magazine! I and my husband really love reading it and it helps us to grow our Apricot the cat. Could you please tell me how to keep cats off counters?


Step 1: Determine why the behavior is occurring

In order to prevent a cat from jumping up on the kitchen table, it is important to understand why this cat behavior is occurring in the first place. For example, if the cat only jumps up on the kitchen table when there is food or food residue on it, then this behavior has likely been reinforced by food in the past. If the table allows the cat access to a window or allows the cat to escape a family dog in the house, the motivation for the behavior is substantially different. Regardless of why the behavior is occurring, it is important to refrain from using aversive management techniques, such as spraying the cat with water, as this can create other behavioral problems and damage your relationship with your cat.

Step 2: Make changes in accordance with why the behavior is occurring

After determining or theorizing as to why the behavior is occurring, the next step is to determine what can be changed about the environment to decrease the potential of the behavior occurring. For example, if the cat jumps on the table to look out of the window, closing the window is the best solution. If the motivation is food, keeping the table clean and clear of food and crumbs at all times when not eating is the best management technique. Even if there are tiny crumbs left on the table, the behavior will be reinforced. Using a citrus cleaner or coating the sides of the table with juice from an orange peel may help, since it is often an effective natural deterrent to cats.

Step 3: Ensure that the cat’s environment is appropriate

Cats have an affinity for high places. Therefore, it is important to provide cats with at least one, but preferably more than one high place in order to retreat and hide. Additionally, by providing the cat with enrichment such as interactive toys, puzzle toys, and hiding treats in places that are more appropriate for your cat are all great ways to reduce the chances of them jumping up on your table. Further, providing unique enrichment, such as a special treat like a tuna juice ice cube while you eat dinner, may help to keep your cat off the table while there is food on it.

Should your cat be allowed on a kitchen table?

Cats may transmit parasites and bacterias. Allowing your cats on a kitchen table will increase the risks of you and your family digesting these. This is why it’s highly recommended to keep your cat out of a kitchen table.

You can train your cat

Cats can be trained to perform a number of behaviors such as come, fetch, and place, all of which can be helpful in facilitating behavior change. Further, training can improve the bond that you have with your cat.

Have your own question?

Submit your own question about proper cat nutrition, behavior, or training and a veterinarian will give you an answer during the next 24 hours.

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