Right about now, cat owners are reading the title and laughing and shaking their heads. After all, everyone knows that cats will look at you when you say “NO,” and then go ahead and do as they please. Trying to stop counter surfing cats could be an exercise in futility.
We fostered numerous cats over the years and even kept a few. The one trait they all shared was a fascination with my kitchen counters. And that’s the one place I did not allow them to visit. Or so I thought.
One night, “someone” forgot to hide the loaf of bread inside a cabinet. The next morning, I found bits of bread scattered all over the counter, the floor and even into the living room. I found the plastic wrapper in shreds and 3 cats and 2 kittens with totally innocent faces.
Why Counter Surfing Is a Bad Idea for Kitty
A cat doesn’t know the difference between the kitchen counters and the hot stove top. Her innocent fun could result in severely-burned paws. If you use a cleaning product that might be hazardous for a cat to ingest, just remember that the residue will cling to Kitty’s paws or tongue.
We won’t even talk about the bacteria those cute little paws deposit on the counters that are also used for our own food preparation.
Danger Lurks Where Your Counter Surfing Cats Wants to Play
Aside from potentially-hot stove burners, the sink hides another danger. I once owned a Bengal-mix. Jake loved water. We caught him with his paw deep inside the garbage disposal, fishing around for something he had seen or smelled. Jake could have lost a paw with that trick.
Another time, I was busy preparing dinner and opened the refrigerator. I walked away from it to place a bowl on a counter and in that short bit of time, 3-month-old Jake jumped onto a shelf in the refrigerator. I didn’t see him and as I began to close the door, only his little meow caused me to look twice. There he sat, quite proud of himself.
5 Tips to Try to Keep Kitty Off the Counters
- Clean the counters daily with a citrus-based, pet-friendly spray cleaner. Cats are said to dislike the smell of citrus. Reality: Some do; some don’t.
- Tape aluminum foil to the counter top. That means cover the entire surface with foil. Cats are supposed to dislike the feel and crinkly sound of the foil. Mine treated the foil like a scratching post.
- Fill a metal can with a few coins. Seal the top and shake it when you see your cat on the counter. The idea is that the noise will scare your cat off the counter. It probably works as long as you are around to use it.
- Squirt your cat with a spray bottle of water when she jumps on the counter. Some cat experts advise against this saying it is cruel, but it did help with my own cats – while I was around to spray them.
- Apply double-sided carpet tape to the top of your counters. Just be sure to fold over the ends a few times, so you can peel it off later. This tape is difficult to remove if the ends lay flat. Check an unseen area first to be sure the tape won’t stain or pull off the counter surface. I will say this method worked best with Lucy and Chico.
If All Else Fails, Take These Precautions
This is all a trial and error process. What works with one cat may not work with another. Put all food away in closed cabinets. Keep your counters thoroughly clean at all times. Install child safety latches on upper and lower cabinet doors to keep out little fur-brats. Be sure to clean your sink well, using a pet-safe cleaner and rinse well. And don’t forget to keep the garbage disposal empty and clean.
If none of the 5 suggestions work to stop your counter-surfing cats, at least you will know you did all you could to protect them from harm.
One last tip: Wipe down the counters with a pet-safe cleaner each time you begin to prepare food. My counter-surfing cats always seemed to come out at night when the rest of the house slept. Cats will do as they please when you aren’t watching, so nothing is really off-limits if their legs can jump that far. Fortunately, the climbing does slow down as cats age.