How To Stop Cats From Jumping On Counters

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Oh cats – they have a habit of driving you crazy at times, right? And yet – at the same time – you still can’t help but love them. (Of course!) But wouldn’t it be brilliant if you could stop their bad habits? Habits like jumping on worktops / counters for instance. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?! Wondering how to stop cats from jumping on counters? (And if it’s even possible?! After all, cats tend to do what they want most of the time anyway, don’t they?!) 

Well my friends, in this post – we’re going to break it all down, sharing exactly how to stop cats jumping on counters, with a – surprisingly simple – 5 step process! So let’s start from the top, shall we?

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Why Do Cats Jump On Counters?

To work out how to stop cats from jumping on counters, it’s helpful to understand why cats jump on counters in the first place and determine why your cat is most likely to be doing it.

So first up, cats jump on counters because counters are high and cats like being high up.

Why? Well, because it’s in their instinct. Being higher allows them to observe their territory, escape from dangers and see who is in their environment, whether prey or predator. 

That’s another reason cats are so observant and often watching your every move! Talking of which…

Cats also see their food and water coming from the counters, so it’s another no-brainer why they would want to get up there. They want to know what’s going on, they want to see where it’s coming from and have a mooch to see if they can get anymore.

Wouldn’t you do the same? If eating was part of your survival instinct too?! For sure!

Whats more, if a cat is successful in getting food from the counter, it becomes like a game, a prize, a reward, which only encourages them to jump up there more!

So by understanding this and putting yourself in “their shoes” (or should we say, paws!), you can also use the “why” to work out the “how” part when it comes to stopping cats from jumping on counters.

Why do cats jump on worktops?

Why You Want To Stop Cats Jumping On Counters

Now besides the obvious hygiene reasons, you want to stop cats from jumping on counters to protect them. 

Hot stoves can take a while to cool down which can end up being pretty dangerous for your cat or kitten. There’s also human foods cats can’t eat… Ones that are toxic and damaging to cats if consumed, even. (Which is why it’s so important to learn how to cat proof your home.) 

This means you really are having your cats best interest at heart when wanting to get them off the counters. So be patient if it takes a little time and work to get this to stick!

How To Stop Cats From Jumping On Counters

So how do you get cats to stop jumping on counters? What is the fundamental 5-step formula when it comes to stopping cats from jumping on counters? Well, you want to…

1) Keep The Kitchen Clean & Clear

The cleaner you keep your kitchen, the less temptation there is for your cat to want to jump up and explore!

And I know, I know, let’s say you’ve just finished cooking – do you really want to then do all of the dishes straight away?! Even just a short sit down and a cup of tea (for all our English readers here!) would be nice, hey?!

But look at it this way…

Every time you leave food out on your kitchen counter, it’s like – as a comparison – a big block of chocolate floating up in the air in front of you… Imagine that. It would be like torture not to jump and try to grab a bit right?! Especially if you can tell it’s one of your favourite ones!

Well it’s a little like that for cats when you leave food out on the side. Cats have 14x better sense of smell than humans, remember? And just like you may crave that chocolate – it’s their instinct to seek out food!

So stop the temptations. Clear up. Put food back away. And make it a little easier for them!

What About Feeding Time?

What I’ve also found, is if you feed your cat / kitten, when you’re making your own food – so that your meal times are succinct – this also helps a lot when looking at how to stop your cat from jumping on the counter.

See, you’ll find with this clever trick – they don’t go after your food as they have their own!

See, I feed our Cody in the kitchen, placing his food down, once we have ours. We’ve trained him to wait patiently until that point, then he eats as we eat. It’s “totally purrfect!” (Although have you see this?! Cody eats with his paws!)

Anyway… In essence – start by giving snacks whilst cooking, and rewarding when your cat remains on the floor. Then, it’s their full meal during your meal time. (If you can time it that way, of course!)

How to keep cats off the kitchen counter

2) Provide Alternative Perches

So you’ve tackled the temptation of food, by keeping your kitchen spotless – with any food put back straight away and any things that could CREATE the smell of food, cleaned up as fast as possible! (Great stuff!)

Next up then, you want to find a way around the fact cats want to jump on counters because they like the viewpoint! The best way to solve this, is to – quite simply – provide alternative perches, in similar spots…

So consider putting a bar stool or a cat tree next to the kitchen. Better yet, opt for a floor-to-ceiling cat tree which enables them to go HIGHER than if they were on the counter itself and see further / wider. It then becomes a far more preferable spot.

Remember: cats don’t want a constant battle. If every time they jump on the counter, you put them down; yet when they climb up their cat tree next to the counter and can still get a clear view from there – eventually that’s what they’ll stick to!

See, working out how to stop cats from jumping on counters can actually be quite simple, providing you break it down, make a. plan and then stick with it… And KEEP sticking with it. (The “stick with it” part is key!)

3) Make It Harder For Them To Get Up!

Now, there’s a few sneaky tricks and tips you should know when it comes to stopping a cat from jumping on counters, and – essentially – Sticky Paws Pet Roll is going to become your new best friend!

See, if you stick something like Sticky Paws on your worktop when you’re trying to train your cat to keep them off the counter; you’re making it harder for them to get up there, and in turn, helping to deter them.

It won’t hurt your cat and it doesn’t have to stay on forever. It’s just a two-sided tape that doesn’t leave marks on your worktop. (Which also comes in handy for stopping cats scratching the carpet on furniture too, by the way!)

This tape will simply feel unpleasant / weird for cats so it makes them jump back down themselves. Clever huh?

It’s also like the advantages of kitchen cabinet shelf liners, as the tape itself – in turn – prevents from scratch marks whilst you’re still in the process of training them to stop jumping on counters too. (Perfect!)

What else can you do or use?

Well, the alternative would to be use something like Scat Pet Shock Mat’s.

These sound horrific, but if you read the reviews – they’re often used, even with kittens, and aren’t powerful, they just make them jump which speeds up the process of training.

I personally wouldn’t buy one, but it could be something to consider if you’re trying everything and getting no joy!

After all, it’s probably better to train a cat to stop jumping on counters this way, than have them burn themselves on a hot stove and actually get properly hurt!

This leads us nicely onto the next point when it comes to stopping cats from jumping on counters…

4) Don’t Punish Them For Jumping

It’s vitally important, if you want to stop a cat from jumping on the counter, NOT to shout or punish them for it. And I get it – it can be frustrating at times. Sometimes this frustration just comes out before you know it! But rein it in, rein it in.

Remember, your cat isn’t jumping on the counter to purposely being a nuisance. It’s their natural instinct, so they won’t understand what they’re doing wrong!

Cats therefore don’t tend to respond to punishment very well, because they don’t make the connection that their behaviour is the reason they’re being punished.

By punishing your cat you’ll only diminish your relationship with them – damaging your bond and reducing the level of trust. Also bear in mind that if your punishments do work – they’ll only work when you’re there & have your “weapon” in hand!

For example, let’s say you spray your cat with water when they jump on the counter which makes them jump off. This will make them afraid of YOU, and the water pistol – not the counter itself, which means they’ll continue to go on it when you’re not there.

This is why it goes back to deterring your cat from the counter, because of the counter itself, as opposed to anything else. Otherwise your efforts are just damaging, not helpful… and also, not really fair!

how to stop cats jumping on worktops

5) Instead, Offer Rewards For NOT Jumping

Up until now, you may have had your “rewards” in the wrong place.

If you hadn’t been following the first step for how to stop cats from jumping on counters, and were leaving food or crumbs out – every time they jumped up there and got something that was their reward.

Instead – after this – there will be no rewards for going up there. It’s also harder for them to get up their; verging on unpleasant, depending on your deterrent! And you can build on that further by then offering rewards for them instead – going on their new designated spot close by, instead.

So every time they usually would have jumped on the counter, but instead jump on a nearby stool, table you don’t eat at, or cat tree – give them a treat to reward them for doing that instead, and positively reinforce that behaviour.

If you want them to continue using your cat tree whilst you’re out, instead of just jumping back on the counter when you’re gone, try leaving treats, or treat puzzles, on or within them, for a longer game they can play by themselves whilst you’re gone too.

This works well as they’re constantly enticed onto what they SHOULD be on, rather than getting into the habit of jumping onto the counters where they shouldn’t be.

It just may mean that you then need more healthy treats so that they don’t end up being stocked up with the “wrong stuff”…

I recommend the 90% high protein biscuits or freeze dry meat snacks (these are Cody’s personal favourite) over the less-healthier-but-much-loved “Temptations” treats!

That way you’re keeping your cat off the counter, making it easier with treats, but the treats aren’t actually bad for your cat! It’s a win, win, win!

How To Train Cats To Stay Off Counters

You can even go one step further with these rewards, incorporating clicker training into it, in order to train cats to stay off the counters. So if they jump on the counters, you:

  • Gently pick them up and put them on the floor.
  • You then tap the new spot you want them to go to instead. (I.E. a perch on their cat tree.)
  • Have them walk over to this new spot and climb on that.
  • Then, the second they land on their new spot, you click your clicker so they associate it with that, and give them a treat! It’s the use of treats, but built on further with the clicker. (For reference, this is the clicker I use for clicker training Cody.)

This may take a little time and patience, and initially you may want to put them straight on the new perch instead – then build it up.

But by incorporating this more advanced use of training, you embed the new habit in them further, which turns it from: “how to stop cats from jumping on counters” to “how to train cats to stay off counters… long term!” You see?

So There We Have It!

That’s all for this one now then. We’ve covered your fundamental step-by-step guide for how to stop cats from jumping on counters. Thanks for reading. I really hope you found it valuable!

Thanks for reading! Got any questions? Be sure to comment them in the box below.

How To Stop Cats From Jumping On Counters
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Ell is the Founder of Totally Purrfect & Cat Mom to Cody, The Maine Coon. Her areas of expertise lie in Cat Care, Enrichment & Training.

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