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Countertop Surfing No More: The Best Ways to Keep Cats Off the Counter [2024]


Countertop Surfing No More: The Best Ways to Keep Cats Off the Counter [2024]



This post has been updated by Lisa on May 10th, 2024

As a self-confessed countertop enabler to my cat Finnegan, I know all too well the allure that kitchen counters hold for our feline friends. Yet, for sanitary and safety reasons, it’s crucial to keep these spaces cat-free. Here’s a playful, authoritative guide brimming with tried-and-tested tricks to help you reclaim your kitchen countertops.

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Firstly, why do cats love such lofty spots? High places like kitchen counters offer cats a bird’s-eye view of their domain, making it an irresistible perch. Understanding this instinctive behavior is the first step in guiding them elsewhere.

One of the best ways to divert this desire is by creating alternative high vantage points that are safer and more appealing. Consider setting up a climbing tree or floor-to-ceiling towers near the kitchen. These cat-friendly foundations provide the perfect lookout, so your countertops become less tempting.

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Now, for the fun part: making those counters less appealing. A bit of aluminum foil along the edge of the counter can work wonders. Cats dislike the loud noise and weird texture, making it a great deterrent. Double-sided sticky tape or even a homemade booby trap with cookie sheets can also dissuade those paws from exploring.

But let’s be more creative, shall we? Why not use modern design elements to our advantage? A decorative fountain or a small herb garden on the window ledge near the kitchen sink can keep your kitty engaged without setting a paw on the counter. It’s about making the right place the most attractive and rewarding spot.

These ‘how to keep cats off the counter’ tips will actually help a lot.


Forget the spray bottle or any form of physical punishment; they only strain your bond with your kitty. Instead, harness the power of positive reinforcement. Clicker training or a simple “good cat” with a treat can work miracles. Reward your cat for using their new cat bed or puzzle feeders placed strategically away from the kitchen.

For the thirsty cats among us, a water fountain away from the kitchen faucet offers fresh running water without the allure of a leaky faucet.

How to Keep Cats Off the Counter

Finally, consistency is key. It might take a few tries (or a few weeks of persistent training), but with these preventive measures, there’s a good chance your kitchen can become a no-cat zone, barring the occasional supervised visit.

To all responsible pet owners, I hope these tips bring some peace to your kitchen dynamics. Remember, understanding and patience go a long way in reinforcing years of model behavior.


If you ever catch your persnickety cat on the counter, maybe it’s just their way of checking if you followed this guide! For more cat behavior tips and DIY ideas, keep following along. And remember, every cat expert started as just another person wiping paws off the kitchen counter.

Happy Training!

Keep Kitchen Counters Clutter-Free

I know that we said “easy tips,” and this one can be a difficult habit to implement, but cats are curious creatures! Put simply, the kitchen can be a haven for feline enrichment with exciting smells, plenty of objects to knock over mischievously, and things to explore. 

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Think about your kitchen from your cat’s perspective: What’s that smell? What is this? Can I move this with my paw?… The options are seemingly endless for them. From beef to tuna, tomato to cilantro, there are so many sniffing and engagement options in this otherwise forbidden area of your home. 

By keeping your countertops free from exploration activities, your furry friends might find that their time is better spent in another area of your home instead of the kitchen. Instead of arriving in your kitchen poised for some enrichment time, they will find clean countertops that are otherwise uninteresting. 

Give Them a Space More Interesting to Climb On

For some cats, most of the intrigue in a kitchen countertop is a bird’s eye view of the home. This appeal is especially enticing if there is no other place to get some height in this area of your home, and keeping this space clean might actually encourage a furball to use your counters more often.

Cat experts describe this need for levels of access in a cat-friendly home, with some even coining unique phrases and strategies for “catification,” like Jackson Galaxy. Your cats might be using other surfaces to gain access to height in your home, such as the fridge, decorative shelves, or even bookshelves to peer at humans from up above. 

Installing some shelves and levels that are specific to cats can help to fulfill this need without encroaching on your kitchen space. You might even find success with a simple cat tree addition near the kitchen!

Booby Trap Your Kitchen to Dissuade Counter Lounging

For those who aren’t sure why their cat is obsessed with the kitchen, you can simply discourage them from accessing the counter!

Adding obstacles can easily prevent your cat from wanting to leap from the ground to your counters or from another surface to your counters. However, this strategy can be less than ideal for maintaining a neat kitchen.

Common tactics for booby trapping your kitchen include adding aluminum foil to the “landing zone” for your cats, which can spook cats away from making a loud crinkle sound when they crash land. Similarly, double-sided sticky tape on your counters can add an unpleasant but not harmful feeling to the bottoms of your cats’ feet that they will learn to avoid.

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Other strategies are a bit more advanced and pricey, including special anti-cat mats or other poky mats that will make your cats avoid jumping there. We aren’t crazy about these options, however, due to their higher cost and risk of poking sensitive paw pads. 

Do Not Punish Your Cats for Countertop Exploration

People tend to stop their cats from being on the counters by giving them a quick push on the bottom to get off the counter, raising their voices, or scolding them. These tactics may work on children, but cats are creatures that do not respond well to punishment. Think of your cat like a toddler – they don’t know that the counter is an off-limits zone, especially if they have never received any pushback on their exploring. 

Your feline friend might instead associate you with the punishment rather than the space they are forbidden from exploring. Using alternative methods will instead teach your cat that counters aren’t safe to jump on, aren’t interesting to jump on, or fulfills their need to hop on counters in some other way.

The key to feline-proofing your counters is not to respond with anger or frustration but rather an understanding of your cats’ needs and how you can meet them. This sentiment applies to many other aspects of cat care! Avoiding punishing your cat is essential to promoting cat wellness and happiness overall in a feline-friendly home. 

Conclusion: How to Keep Cats Off the Counter

Whether you decide to clear your countertops of all interesting surprises or install some cool cat shelves in an adjacent space in your home, your cat should respond well to our non-punitive methods of dissuading kitchen exploration! Cats are simply curious creatures who want to know more about their environment.  This post is all about how to keep cats off the counter.

For designing with cat shelf ideas, check out our suggested reading list:

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Rock Your Cat’s World: Curved Cat Shelves

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    Providing alternatives, making the kitchen disinteresting, and even discouraging the action of hopping through unpleasant textures are safe and effective methods for avoiding countertop roaming in your kitchen. 

    Frequently Asked Questions for How to Keep Cats Off the Counter

    1. What’s the best way to prevent my first feline from jumping on the kitchen counter?
    The most effective method is to create a less appealing environment on the counters.

    Using double-sided tape along the countertop edge makes the surface unpleasant for your cat’s paws. Pair this with positive reinforcement training tools like clicker training to encourage desirable behavior elsewhere.

    2. Are scat mats and air canisters safe and effective for keeping cats off countertops?
    Yes, both scat mats and motion-activated air canisters are popular and safe methods to deter cats from specific areas like kitchen counters.

    They help reduce undesirable behavior by creating a minor inconvenience for your cat without harm, reinforcing instinctive behaviors to avoid these areas.

    3. How can I use essential oils to keep my cat away from the kitchen window?
    Using essential oils like peppermint oil can be a good way to deter cats from certain areas due to their strong scent. However, it’s crucial to use them safely.

    Dilute the oil and place it in areas you want to keep your cat away from, like the kitchen window, but ensure it’s not accessible for direct contact to avoid irritation.

    4. What are some functional alternatives to traditional cat trees that can help keep my cat entertained away from the kitchen?
    Consider installing kitty condos or a whisker cat tower near a window with a great view but away from the kitchen.

    These provide eye views and climbing opportunities, offering a better alternative to the kitchen countertops. They blend functionality with modern design, fitting well within living spaces.

    5. Can fresh water and tasty food placement help in training my cat to stay off the countertops?

    Absolutely! Placing your cat’s food and a bowl of cool, fresh water in an appropriate alternative location, like the top of the refrigerator or a feeding station that provides great value and convenience away from the kitchen counter, can redirect their interest. This is a natural way to leverage their instinct to associate good smells and tasty food with a non-kitchen area.

    🐾 Lisa Illman is the Founder of Kritter Kommunity, LLC! 🏡 She’s got a dapper tuxedo cat who’s been her sidekick since he was a tiny furball. 🐱 Before Finnegan came along, Lisa cared for two FIV-positive cats for over ten years! 🌟 Their love inspired her to create a cat enclosure and a portable catio, giving kitties the purrfect spot to bask in the sun and feel the breeze. ☀️🌿

    As a kid, Lisa shared her home with a Poodle and a chirpy parakeet! 🐩🐦

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