Do you keep your cat off the counter?

by Michael
(London, UK)

Look, to be honest, I just don’t get this idea of keeping cats off counters. But, I respect the views of others so I would really like to understand why people like Laurel Wilson (Fairfield, USA) uses some fancy if not irritating methods to keep cats off counters.

She strings empty beer cans together and puts them on counter tops. You put the line of empty beer cans about 6 inches from the side (I presume that means from the edge of the counter) so the cat can’t see them before jumping up.

When and if the car jumps onto the counter he or she knocks the cans off and they make an awful noise. This deters the cat from doing it again and startles the human! Ingenious and a nice use of empty beer cans but who wants empty beer cans in a line on the counter in the kitchen? They have to be there for a long time.

I feel that there is no real risk to us when a cat jumps on the counter. I also feel that there is a kind of paranoia about disease and illnesses transmitted by the domestic cat in some households. There really is no risk that requires that kind of extreme action on our behalf. the past I have fed three cats on the kitchen counter and I am alive to tell the tail..err tale.

Perhaps people are thinking of toxoplasmosis. Lots of fiction or exaggeration is written about this disease. The greater problem is us and our kitchen hygiene and handling of raw food.

Other than that I don’t see any issue with a cat walking along a kitchen counter but perhaps I am missing something.

I’d like to hear the ideas of others. I remember seeing a video made by Elisa of a hoard of cats eating on the counter! I have forgotten where it is. Obviously we think alike if my memory is correct.

If the sight of a cat on a counter bugs you, you simply have to create no reason for the cat to be there. If the cat food is on the floor the cat won’t bother to jump up. If there is no human food on the counter, that is attractive to a cat, there will be no need for a cat to jump up etc.

I’d like to hear one or two thoughts from others though…

Comments for
Do you keep your cat off the counter?

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 20, 2011 No need to frighten or punish cats
by: Rose

It’s the cats home too you know and the cat has every right to feel relaxed in it.
Yes there has to be some rules but there is never a need for punishment.
“If you jump on there I’ll squirt water at you’ is pathetic!
Do people who do that squirt water at their kids too I often wonder?
I have kids,cats and dogs and they are the most relaxed and well behaved lot you could ever meet.
How come you may ask?
The reason is that every member of our family whether human or animal is given love and respect and the understanding of their species.

Jun 20, 2011 Exactly !
by: Ruth

Exactly right Gail, just as with children, time and patience is all you need with cats too.
Some not very good cat behaviourists still recommend spray bottles but they are not the solution because that is what is called ruling by fear.
It’s not the spray bottle which is threatening, it’s the person using it and it’s not the cat to blame if he can’t be trained by kindness and patience without resorting to threats, it’s the cat’s caretaker.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Jun 20, 2011 Cats Not on Counters
by: Gail (Boston, USA)

I know I may be in the minority, but I don’t like cats on the kitchen counter or the table where we eat; however, I’ve never had to resort to scare tactics. I’ve always just removed the cat while saying ‘Noooooo’ in a calm voice. Should the cat return, same thing. I’d do it as many times as needed. Sooner or later, it’s not fun for the cat anymore and he/she won’t return. It’s no different than a child with temper tantrum, except cats respond better, LOL!

Jun 20, 2011 counter cats
by: Kathy W

Having Savannahs and Bengals its quite difficult to keep them off of anything. So we pretty much dont even try. However our intact male started spraying on everything high and low. We use a spray bottle to train our cats if they are exhibinting naughty behavior. The male now when i would spray him I would give him the cammand get down. So now he knows when I tell him to get down, he gets down. It only took a couple of sprays and if he doesnt listen all I gotta do is shake the bottle and he gets down immediatly. My son uses double faced tape on his counter and that works pretty well. He was having a problem with his cat breaking dishes by knocking them off the counter. Hes a bachelor and lives alone and his counter sometimes is pretty crowded. He does have a girlfriend now and she keeps the dishes put away. I believe he now has been able to remove the tape. We now have feliway so that seems to have helped with the spraying problem. Our cat Midnight can manuever any crowded space without disturbing a thing. She has never broken anything. Shes an amazing cat and was a stray we found outside. I believe the spray bottle is p-retty humane as long as you dont spray their faces or eyes which I am careful not to do. I aim for their back or buttocks. And if you use cammands like I did I eventually dont even have to use it.

Jun 20, 2011 I have no issue with it
by: Maggie

The only issue I’ve had with cats being on benches is people who don’t let them be on benches. I’m sick of my cats jumping on the bench, and people who don’t even live here yelling, screaming and pushing at them to get off. There is nothing wrong with cats being on benches, my cats eat their 3 meals on the bench every day. I’ve never had an issue with it. We prepare our food in the same place, but we maintain typical house hold hygiene, so we are at no risk of picking up any ‘diseases’, and we do not risk cross contamination.

I would rather my cats be on the bench, than the grubby hands of some people…

Jun 19, 2011 I agree with Ruth
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

I too had thought that the idea of putting something on the counter to startle the cat seemed wrong. Monty’s a smart cat and won’t jump up to anywhere if he’s not sure there’s a clear surface for him to land on. I may put something in his way, which he can clearly see from the floor, and then he will not go there. But that’s different from ambushing him with something he’s going to land on that he couldn’t see from the floor, that he wouldn’t normally expect to be there. I like the idea of giving the cat a place he can be. They do like to be up, seeing what you’re doing.

Jun 18, 2011 Don’t rule cats by fear of you
by: Ruth

People who devise scare tactics to frighten cats when they try to jump on the counters make me mad !
I hate the thought of empty cans, foil paper or anything else noisy or slippy that some people recommended to stop them.
It’s so very easy to teach a cat where you don’t want him to go, you only need a bit of time and patience. Just lift him gently down and distract him with a toy when he first starts doing it, cats are highly intelligent and it doesn’t take long for the message to sink in that the counter is out of bounds.
Better still provide him with a high stool to sit on by the counter, our 2 present cats aren’t at all interested in kitchen chores but when we had Bryan he loved to sit on his high stool and watch us working.
It’s only sensible to keep the kitchen door shut while the cooker is on or anything hot is on the counter, again it’s easy to distract the cat into another room.
I really wish people would understand that punishing cats is pointless and unkind and ruling them by fear is very wrong.
And at the end of the day so what if the cat does jump on the counter, as long as he’s not in any danger, it’s easy enough to wash the counter down afterwards.
In fact cats are much cleaner than a lot of people are !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jun 17, 2011 Counters too cluttered for small cat
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

Monty doesn’t go on my kitchen counters because I have very little counter space and they are very full of stuff. Once I pulled everything off the counter, piled it on the table and wiped the counters. Suddenly, Monty discovered the counters and had a good time walking around up there! I think he liked it because it got him up more to my level. After he tired of it, I wiped everything down and put the stuff back. He still was going on the one counter by the microwave where there was an open space about his size. Jeff saves empty beer bottles for our neighbor who brews his own beer, so I put an empty beer bottle there, where Monty would see that it was in his way, and he stopped going up there. I didn’t let him walk on the stove at all, though he wanted to. I just don’t want to start that precedent for his own safety. He has never jumped up there, though he will stand on the garbage can lid and look up there. I move the garbage can whenever there is something hot on the stove, so that it isn’t a convenient ladder up to a something that could burn his little nose. Until I clean the counters again, I suspect he will continue to leave them alone. So that is my answer to keeping cats off counters. Just have a really cluttered house with very little counter space.

10 thoughts on “Do you keep your cat off the counter?”

  1. Yeah my comment from 2011 still stands and I too am alive and well to keep talking about it. There’s nothing wrong with allowing your cat on the counter, and I don’t apologize for offending the opposing opinion any more than they should chastise me or my cat. I am reminded of my dear mother who finally allowed herself to pet a cat at the age of 80, because up until then she thought they were filthy, disease riddled annoyances she tolerated others for enjoying. In fact, humans are host to typically a hundred trillion microorganisms of thousands of species of the human microbiome, which if transported to Mars would infect the entire planet. Life on planet Earth has a way of intermingling and supporting all who live here. The very idea that humans are singularly holy and pure apart from everything else is a ridiculous notion born from ancient beliefs that are as inconsistent with life today as they were then.

  2. I think it’s more a preference born out of ownership and superiority by some humans. “my counter, I’m boss, my rules!”

    I have no problem with it, in fact I like it. I can easily pet them up there, less of a chance to step on their toes and they are more comfortable too. If someone can’t help themselves from punishing their cat daily for being up off the floor, they should build many cat shelves at that height where they know it’s okay for them to be. It’s their home too!

  3. I love my long haired Norwegian Forest cat, named Ricky Ricardo,l but I don’t like him on my kitchen counters or table where we eat. My reason is that he digs in his litter box and could leave all sorts of ‘nasties’ where he walks. I simply put him down and say NO, and he rarely jumps up there. He’s my sweetheart!

    • That sounds OK. I wonder if humans leave more nasties on counters and other places than cats or at least leave the same number. We don’t see nasties. People forget how people transmit disease.

      • Agreed, but for the most part most micro organisms deal with each other and balance things out on their level, leaving us to enjoy life on our level, providing we choose to do so. The Purell OCD obsessives are fast being proved wrong anyway. They’re finding out that it’s not better to be overly sterilized in our natural world. It doesn’t work well that way. It comes back to the mistaken notions that we are separate from it and that everything is out to kill us. Fact check: Weizmann scientists (the human microbiome project) estimate and found that there were about 39 trillion bacterial cells in the body compared to about 30 trillion human cells. You have from 2 to 6 pounds of bactieria in you and being angry at your cat from being on the counter isn’t going to change that or magically make you any healthier. On balance it’s not worth being a jerk about it any more than shaking your fist at the sun for pelting the earth with deadly radiation.

        • Slight correction: 2 to 6 pounds in and on you. I just remembered that I used to live with a woman (girlfriend) who was a microbiologist, and she impressed me with a lot of similar and surprising facts known at the time too. It’s a fascinating field of study that has also come a long way since.

  4. I had very few hard and fast rules for my cats when they were growing up except not chewing on wires and not going up on the kitchen counters. Both of these rules were to protect my cats from harm. The no counter top rule came after I found one of my cats curled up in a wok on the stove! Since then they were not allowed to go on a counter near the stove.

    I teach people how to train their cats through positive re-enforcement. If you catch your cat on the counter you can startle it by dropping keys on the floor. If it doesn’t get down: say nothing, do not make eye contact, gently put the cat on the floor and turn your back on it, do not walk away. Deliberately ignoring a cat shows your displeasure. After the cat has been on the floor for a minute or when you are in the kitchen and the cat is not on the counter give lots of praise and pets. This training method works for other behaviours as well and with patience works to make both cat and human happier.


Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo