How to Keep Cats Off the Counter? Cat Burglar Prevention 101

If you own a cat, you’ve definitely experienced the aggravation of discovering your feline companion on the kitchen counter, sniffing your food, licking your dishes, or knocking over your cutlery.

Cat on Counter

Cats are naturally inquisitive and enjoy exploring high places, but this activity may be irritating, unclean, and even hazardous for both you and your cat.

In this post, we will discuss ways to keep cats off the counter and other locations where they should not be.

Why do cats jump on the counter and why is it a problem?

Cats jump on the counter for various reasons, such as:

  • Seeking a higher vantage point to feel safe and observe their surroundings
  • Expressing their natural instinct to climb and stretch
  • Being attracted by the smell or sight of food or water
  • Wanting to be close to you or get your attention
Cat Jump

While some of these reasons are obvious, having your cat on the counter might be an issue for both you and your cat.

It may represent a health concern to you since your cat’s paws may transmit bacteria or parasites from the litter box or outside.

It can be risky for your cat since they may get into contact with sharp things, hot surfaces, poisonous chemicals, or unhealthy foods[1].

Therefore, it’s critical to instruct your cat to remain off the counter and regard your boundaries.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Discouraging Counter Surfing

Before we get into the specific methods to keep your cat off the counter, let’s go over some general do’s and don’ts that will help you achieve your goal.


  • Be constant and persistent. Don’t allow your cat jump on the counter at random. Stick to your guidelines and emphasize them at all times.
  • Reward your cat for good behavior[2]. Praise them, pet them, or give them a treat when they stay on the floor or use their designated climbing areas.
Cat Reward
  • Provide adequate excitement and enrichment for your cat. Toys, scratching posts, windowsills, or cat trees should be available to keep them occupied and engaged.
  • After each usage, wipe off your counter. Remove any food crumbs, unclean dishes, or leaking faucets that might entice your cat to leap.


  • Scream or strike your cat. This will simply frighten or enrage them and will not teach them anything. Furthermore, it will harm your bond with your cat.
Cat Punishment
  • Use spray bottles or other forms of punishment. These may work temporarily, but they won’t address the root cause of the problem. Plus, they may make your cat associate the counter with something negative, which may increase their stress or anxiety[3].
  • Either give up or lose hope. Training your cat to remain off the counter may take some effort and care, but it is not impossible. You can succeed if you use the proper tactics and mindset.
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According to pet expert Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD
Your actions can reinforce this counter-jumping habit. If you pet and talk to your cat while it’s on the counter, it’ll quickly learn that this is a place where it can get attention

How to Make the Counter Less Appealing for Your Cat

Making the counter less tempting to your cat is one of the most effective methods to keep them away from it. This entails generating a negative link with the counter in order to discourage them from leaping up.

There are numerous ways to do this, but here are a few of the foremost prevalent ones:

  • Use foil, plastic wrap, doublesided tape, or sticky paws to protect your countertops. These materials make a noise and feel unpleasant to cats, so they avoid treading on them.
  • Use various scents that cats hate, such as citrus, vinegar, peppermint, or eucalyptus. You can spray them on the counter or place some cotton balls soaked in these scents around the edges.
Scared Cat
  • Make commotion and startling sounds when your cat hops on the counter. You’ll be able utilize a can filled with coins, an discuss horn, a clap, or a boisterous “no”. This will startle your cat and make them hop off.
  • When your cat leaps on the counter, use motionactivated gadgets that create a sound, a spray of air or water, or a moderate electric shock. These gadgets are intended to frighten your cat without injuring it.

How to Provide Alternative Places for Your Cat to Climb and Explore

Another way to keep your cat off the counter is to provide them with alternative places to climb and explore.

This means creating a positive association with these places that will encourage them to use them instead of the counter.There are many ways to do this, but here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Build or purchase an entertaining cat tower that has multiple levels, scratching posts, toys, hiding spots, and perches. Place it near a window or in a room where you spend a lot of time.
  • Install shelves, ledges, hammocks, or window seats throughout your home for your cat to utilize and enjoy. To make them more comfortable, add some cushions, blankets, or catnip.
Cat Playing
  • Move chairs absent from the counter or table, or cover them with a sheet or a cover. This will avoid your cat from utilizing them as a venturing stone to reach the counter.
  • Piece sun beams that will draw in your cat to the counter. You’ll be able use curtains, blinds, or shades to diminish the glare and warm that will lure your cat to bounce up.
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How to Train Your Cat to Stay Off the Counter with Positive Reinforcement

The third method for keeping your cat away from the counter is to use positive reinforcement to educate them to stay away from it.

This includes rewarding your cat for remaining on the floor or for utilizing specified climbing spots.There are many ways to do this, but here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Use a clicker and treats to teach your cat the “off” command. When your cat jumps on the counter, say “off” and point to the floor.

    When they jump off, click and give them a treat. Repeat this until they learn to associate the word with the action.
Cat Training
  • To distract your cat’s foodseeking habit, use a puzzle feeder[4] or lick mat. Fill these gadgets with some of their favorite food or goodies and place them on the floor or in their designated climbing locations.

    This will keep your cat occupied and happy while decreasing their interest in the counter.
  • Utilize a remotecontrolled toy or a laser pointer to bait your cat absent from the counter.

    After you see your cat hopping on the counter, enact the toy or the laser and move it absent from the counter. Your cat will take after it and disregard around the counter.


Why do cats like to be on the counter?

Cats are curious by nature and are attracted to elevated surfaces like counters because they provide a good vantage point to observe their surroundings and potential food sources.

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How can I encourage my cat to stay off the counter without scaring them?

Positive reinforcement works well. Reward your cat when they stay off the counter with treats or praise. Also, create a cozy space nearby with a bed or perch to make them feel comfortable.

My cat ignores the deterrents. What else can I do?

If your cat is not responding to one method, try a combination of techniques or experiment with different deterrents until you find what works best for your cat’s preferences.

Should I scold my cat when I catch them on the counter?

Scolding or punishing cats can create fear and stress, which may worsen the behavior. Positive reinforcement is a better approach to encourage desired behavior.

My cat jumps on the counter when I’m not home. What should I do?

A: When you’re not home, try using deterrents like motion-activated devices or confining your cat to a safe area with toys and treats to keep them entertained.


Keeping your cat off the counter could appear like a overwhelming assignment, but it’s not incomprehensible.

With some patience, consistency, and inventiveness, you’ll educate your cat to regard your boundaries and appreciate their claim space.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Use foil, fragrances, noise, or motion-activated gadgets to make the counter less tempting to your cat.
  • Provide alternative places for your cat to climb and explore by using cat towers, shelves, window seats, or sun blockers.
  • Train your cat to stay off the counter with positive reinforcement by using clicker training, puzzle feeders, lick mats, or remote-controlled toys.
  • Be consistent and persistent with your rules and rewards.
  • Don’t holler at or hit your cat, or utilize shower bottles or other shapes of discipline.
  • Clean up your counter after every use.


  1. Foods your cat should never eat | (n.d.). WebMd.
  2. Training Cats with Positive Reinforcement | HSHV.
  3. The Ultimate guide to cat anxiety | PetMD.
  4. Puzzle feeders for your cat | International Cat Care.

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