We all know how curious cats can be. Whether your kitty is exploring a cardboard box or the depths of your closet, you never know what they might get their whiskers into! If you’ve ever gone into your kitchen only to find your cat walking on the counter like they own the place (which, let’s face it, they pretty much do!), you’ve probably wondered why they like going up there, especially since it can be a recipe for chaos — think broken glasses and shedded fur everywhere. The good news? While cats definitely have minds of their own, there are proven reasons they like to roam the countertops — and tested way to get them to stop. Keep scrolling for pro secrets for how to keep cats off counters.
Why cats jump on counters
The urge to explore the countertop is an evolutionary behavior based, like so many other quirky cat conduct, on their territorial nature. “Cats like to go on counters to observe their territory,” says Dr. Ray Spragley, a veterinarian at Zen Dog Vet in Tuckahoe, New York. “They instinctually want to seek higher ground. As a predator, it gives them an advantage when hunting prey and monitoring for other predators entering their environment.”
Countertops may also be enticing to cats because they are often warm, sunny spots (especially if your kitchen counter is by a window!). A counter is also an ideal place to sniff around and look for food, notes Dr. Spragley.
On a basic level, you have to admit that a cat jumping on the countertop is a great way to get an owner’s attention. Is the attention going to be positive? No. Does your cat care? Also no!
How to keep cats off counters
Depending on why your cat likes to roam your countertops, there are different ways to keep them off. Scroll on for the vet-approved tricks:
1. Keep your counter tidy
“The best way to keep cats off the counters is to keep the countertops clean,” Dr. Spragley says. “They are much less likely to explore on the countertop if they do not smell food there or have many new items to interact with.” Also helpful? If you don’t have one already, it’s definitely worth providing them with a cat tree so they have an alternative aware to safely climb and explore. “An owner may want to place the cat tree close to the kitchen if the cat constantly makes it onto the counters,” Dr. Spragley notes.
2. Move your treat stash
If your feline is up there meowing for treats and trying to eat human food, your best bet is to feed them more often or leave some food out for them on the ground. You can also try not to store treats in cabinets above the counters, instead keeping them low to the ground, so they’re less tempted to go higher up.
3. Try *this* training technique
You may even be able to train your cat to prevent them from going on the counter. “I have seen some owners clicker-train their cat to receive a reward when they go to a preferred perching area like a cat tree,” says Dr. Spragley.
Not sure how a clicker works? As the pet site The Wildest explains, “The clicker is a small device a little bigger than a large thumb that makes a ‘click’ sound when you press it, and that sound tells an animal, ‘The behavior you just did — that right there! — is the behavior I will pay you for with delicious food.'” Clickers are cheap and can be easily found online or in pet stores.
Getting your cat to follow along with this is easier than you think! Here’s how, according to Dr Spragley:
- Gently remove your cat from the counter.
- Guide your cat in the direction of their cat tree and allow them to climb it.
- Use the clicker once they are perched and finally give them a treat.
“After a few times they will begin to associate the clicker with treats and will enjoy perching in that location,” Dr. Spragley says.
Now that you know why your cat jumps on the counter and how to prevent it, you’ll be better equipped to use your kitchen counter for what really matters — like preparing dinner!
Click through to learn about more quirky cat behaviors: