How to keep your cats off the kitchen counter, once and for all

Because the last thing you need is cat hair in your food

Published September 3, 2022 4:29PM (EDT)

 (Westend61 / Getty Images)
(Westend61 / Getty Images)

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After several years of model behavior, one of my cats recently discovered that very tasty food like shredded chicken is often left on the kitchen counter at dinnertime. Now, it seems like I can't turn my back without Henry sneakily jumping on the counter to grab a bite. 

Henry isn't the first feline who prefers the kitchen counter over the best cat trees. Over time, I've found several tactics to keep my kitties with four paws on the floor. If you're looking for ways to keep cats off the counter, here are the strategies that have worked for me (and thus, my dearest Henry).

Give them somewhere else to climb

If your cat is up on the counter because they're bored and exploring, redirect their attention elsewhere with the help of new toys. There are fun and functional cat trees that will do just that, including floor-to-ceiling towers and oversized cat condos that offer plenty of room for your cat to play, scratch, and climb. If you dislike the look of traditional cat trees, try the Whisker Cat Tower, which has a modern design that looks like a contemporary piece of furniture.

Keep the counter clean

If there's one thing that cats and humans have in common, it's that they always want to eat. To keep my kitty off the kitchen counter, I've had to do my part to keep food out of sight. If your feline is all feast, no famine, do the same — cover everything during dinner and put away leftovers immediately. We've doubled down on our efforts to keep the counter clean of all food —  if he doesn't find anything to eat, he's less likely to jump up there.

Invest in a water fountain

Some cats jump up on the kitchen or bathroom counter to drink out of the faucet, as they like the taste of fresh, running water. If this is your cat's motive, give them their own water fountain. These cat-friendly foundations operate just like decorative fountains, using a small pump to circulate water for thirsty cats. Most fountains have filters to help remove impurities; if your persnickety cat prefers cool water, add a few ice cubes into the reservoir each day.

Line the edges with foil or tape

If these preventive measures aren't enough to keep your cat from jumping on the counter, there are a few other things you can try. One commonly used method is lining the edges of your counters with aluminum foil. When your cat jumps up to the counter, they'll land on the foil, and the noise and texture of the metallic sheet will startle them, causing them to jump back down. Keep the foil on your countertops for a week or two, depending on how persistent your feline friend is, but eventually, they'll give up and find somewhere else to hang out.

Some people employ this same strategy with double-sided sticky tape, as most cats don't like the sensation of having the tape stick to their paws. If you go this route, make sure to purchase wide tape so that your cat can't just jump over it.

Set up a motion-activated deterrent

Several years ago, my roommate's cat went through a counter-surfacing phase, and nothing we tried deterred her in the slightest. (She was really, really stubborn.) Eventually, we caved and bought the SSSCAT Spray Deterrent, which finally did the trick. This compressed air canister has a motion-activated sensor so when your cat hops up onto the counter, it spurts air at them, scaring them away. This effective, but pricey product should be a last resort. There's a good chance that the spray will also scare you every time you walk by it — I speak from experience.

By Camryn Rabideau

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