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How to Train Your Cat to Not Jump on Counters
Top Ten Reasons Why Your Cat Jumps on Your Counter:
For most cat owners, the subject of cats jumping on counters isn’t humorous. Take for example the case of Anna Romero. Her Maine Coon cat, Bandit keeps jumping on the kitchen counter and raiding her cupboards.
“I came home from work early one day, to find Bandit lying lifeless on the floor in the kitchen. To my horror, he had somehow gotten a cereal box stuck on his head. The vet believes he panicked and fell from the counter. He had a broken leg and I had a huge case of guilt. If I confine him to one room, he just starts scratching the carpet or the door and then I have to restore what he ruins. I don’t want to find him a new home. I just need him to stay off the counters!”
If your cat is jumping on your counters and the usual means that you employ to stop him; spray bottle, yelling, clapping your hands even (God-forbid) smacking your cat isn’t working, then it is time to stop what you are doing and think about how to correct the behavior. Put on your detective cap and find out why your cat is jumping on your counter.
A cat on the counter is a prevalent theme among cat-owners. So how do your correct the behavior? How do you train your cat to stay off the counters? Primarily, understand his world.
Height Means Power
If you share your home with multiple cats, you will notice certain cats who “run the show.” They are the first to show up at the food bowl, they are the ones who wake you in the morning so you can fulfill their needs. They sleep on the highest level of your home they can find. They are your counter jumpers, for they are the Alpha Cats. In the cat’s world, height equals power. They have to be overlooking their domain, keeping watch on the other cats, or if they are a solo cat- keeping watch over you.
To change your cat’s mind about jumping on the kitchen counter, purchase a large cat condo such as the Stairway to Heaven by www.felinefurniture.com and install it in your dining area or kitchen. Make sure whatever condo you buy, that it is tall and stable. If it seems unsteady, anchor it down. Give your cat a better option than jumping on your counter or stove. If you can install the condo near a window or a door, this will help redirect your cat’s attention from what is going on in the kitchen. On the outside of the window, install a bird feeder (another excellent distraction). Every time you see your cat on this condo, reward him with a meaty treat.
Marilyn Krieger, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant offers the following points to consider:
To Know Me is To Love Me
You have been gone all day at work and now you are focused on the kitchen. Your cat has missed you. Here is his chance to say hello. He jumps on the counter to be close to you and is instantly rewarded by a scream, or a squirt of water or blast from an air bottle. He vanishes and hides from you for the better part of the night and the next day; so much for a bonding moment.
If you scare your cat in an effort to get him off the counter, he could turn this into redirected aggression against you or another cat. Instead of losing your cool, simply tell him “No” and put him on the ground. If he jumps up again, repeat the procedure. When he climbs on the cat condo, reward him with a treat (something special he doesn’t get every day).
Marilyn suggests a low-stress better way to redirect your cat’s behavior. A combination of Sticky Paws and inexpensive placemats (check local thrift shops for the mats). Make a border of placemats along your counters with Sticky Paws adhered to the surface of the mats. You can also use double-sided masking tape. Cover the counter with the placemats so when the cat jumps up on the counter, he will immediately jump down. You are now the Sticky Border Patrol. You need to keep up the vigil until he decides that the counter is cat unfriendly territory. Since this application can’t be done easily on a stove, Marilyn advises to keep a squirt bottle handy for when he jumps on the stove. Only then, squirt the water, but never in the cat’s face. Also be a covert agent. Don’t let him see you squirt the water.
Your goal is to redirect the behavior which is natural to the cat. They love to climb and jump, and this love often gets them into trouble. Nature has equipped them with the perfect tools for climbing and jumping; their claws and padded paws.
For Anna, she found that Bandit thought her counters were the top of his list of places to hang because her kitchen wasn’t always the cleanest. “I would go to bed sometimes with dirty dishes in the sink,” she confessed. “I come home from work so tired sometimes, that I just don’t want to deal with the mess. But now, I am cleaner and Bandit hangs out on his new seven-foot condo that now stands near her kitchen window.
Counter-jumpers should not be a capital offence. Your kitty just wants to be close to you and will go to any heights to do so. Make his efforts easier by supplying him with other ways to accomplish his task and both of you will be happier in the long-run.
For more information about Marilyn Krieger’s behavior tips, please visit her website at www.thecatcoach.com