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How To Keep Your Cat Off The Kitchen Counter: Counter Surfing Is Not A Sport

You love your cat but not on the kitchen counter where you prepare your family’s food. No matter what you have said or done to dissuade her from counter surfing, she still wants to catch that wave.


Keeping the kitchen counter or any other surface free of cats is a three step process.

1  Determine why she wants to be there in the first place.

2 Deter your cat from being on the counter.

3   Provide the rewards the counter brings in an acceptable way and place to you AND your


Firstly, why is you cat on the counter?

To effectively keep your cat off the counter, it’s lure must be determined.

  • Is she on the counter because something is there she wants such as food?
  • Does it give her the opportunity to look out of a nearby window?
  • Is it your stimulating company she seeks?
  • Does she just want to be up high to survey her kingdom?



Secondly, an effective way to keep her off the counter needs to be developed.

  • Put something on the counter your cat doesn’t like the feel of to deter her from jumping up. This is a temporary measure until she learns not to get up there. It can be just about anything your cat doesn’t like putting her paws on that’s safe. Double sided tape on cardboard is one of the most effective and convenient deterrents to use. Most cats don’t like the sticky feel of tape and it is easy to put on and take off the counter. This can be done in sections to get complete coverage.unhappy-tabby-by-estv It is easily removed when using the counter. Your cat will need to be kept out of the kitchen at prep time during the training process.
  • Machines  that blow compressed air when the sensor is broken {when she decides it’s time to hang ten}will also deter counter surfing. This option is  more expensive but you don’t need to remove it when using the counter. Don’t use a sensor activated air horn as it is too much of a shock and will probably cause other problems.

When using either one of these methods your cat will associate the unpleasant experience of the deterrent with the counter, not with you.

The use of spray bottles to combat counter surfing is not recommended for a couple of  reasons.

  • You have to be there every time for it to work which isn’t practical. Cats tend to repeat behaviours even if they are only occasionally successful.
  • Your cat will soon figure out the spray is coming from you, causing her to develop avoidance or outright fear of you. Remember, punishment only makes the situation worse especially with cats

Thirdly, and most importantly, you must provide whatever benefits your cat gets from being on the counter somewhere else.

  • If there is a window she likes to look out or it’s your company she seeks, a place up high is needed to replace the counter’s vantage point. A cat tree or a shelf dedicated for her use etc. will fit the bill.miggles-haldenby-cat-tree-girls-030
  • If food is the draw, makes sure none is left out and the counter is kept

    If she doesn’t get what she wants on the counter, eventually your cat will stop going up there since there is no pay off.


    Steps two and three must be done at the same time. Your cat needs an alternative before the counter is a no surf zone to she doesn’t become frustrated. A stressed and frustrated cat is much harder to train. How well do you learn new things when stressed out?

This technique can be used to dissuade your cat from occupying an space such as tables, desks and mantelpieces.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Great post John, I will try to “tame” my cat to stay of my keyboard. Like the photo of the surfing cat, how can I train my cat to catch a wave? Water seems to be an issue. Lol

    1. Hello Kat, Yes they would. Remember the three basics, What’s the draw, What’s the substitution and What’s the deterrent

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