Can you keep your cat off kitchen counters?

Pissed off for the kitten jumps up on the kitchen counter again? Do not know how to keep your cat off counters? Don’t worry, you are not alone. We all experience the same thing with our cats!

Cats have a reputation for upsetting their owners whenever they lift their whole body and jump up high somewhere. In the blink of an eye, they descend on counters very smoothly, casting their eyes down all over the house like they really mean it. The love for our feline friends doesn’t simply diminish after our watching them up high on counters (in despair of course, no one wants to have cats walking around on counters!), but it should be a healthy wish that the cats will never jump up there again. 


It is not easy to keep our cats off counter. There are many other things that cats can be trained to do, like how to go toilet, but litter training a cat is very different from teaching them to stay away from countertops, for the job doesn’t involve any repetition like other kinds of training. Understanding your concern, Wewpet is here to give advice on how to prevent cats from jumping on counters as well as some other useful pieces of information.

Scroll down for the section you want to know more about, but we recommend you read the whole post so that you can get the best pieces of advice.

1. Why do cats jump on counters?

It’s always good to know the “why”. For people that raise cats for the first time, some may think that because cats like discrete places where they claim territory without having any other intruding, they love jumping to high places in your home like kitchen counters. This can count as a popular reason, but it isn’t the only one. Primarily speaking, there are 4 reasons explaining this behavioral pattern in cats.

  • Inheritance: 

Today cats’ ancestors preferred jumping up on trees so they could have a better view of their preys, which facilitated the hunting process. Plus, thanks to their ability to hide on high places, ancestors of cats found it easier to stay safe and alive, avoiding the aggressive attacks of ferocious predators.

We reckon that although cats have developed and been tamed, which means they don’t usually get into contact with aggressive animals and therefore don’t need to hide as often as they used to, the love for high places still dictates their jumping tendency.

  • Love for privacy

Yes, you are right when you guess cats’ love for privacy initiates their frequent jumping, especially when they feel there is no territory left for them on the ground. 

We have to admit that more often than not, countertops provide absolute discretion when humans are not around and there are no other creatures staying up there, asking our feline friends for a space share. Specifically, when our cats feel their own space is threatened or intruded, they will find another place. Apart from countertops, cats love jumping to high places and walking around, enjoying their new territory.

  • Food and other temptations

Well, well. You know for sure what you have on your countertops. Food, candy, sweets, all sorts of things. No wonder why cats like it up there so much. Although cats do not possess such a keenly olfactory nose as dogs, they are capable of catching tempting smell of food and other stuffs. There is an old saying, “Curiosity kills the cat”, which can be perfectly applied to this case with a marginal correction “Curiosity lifts the cat (on counters!)”.

Moreover, cats are intelligent creatures. They know you keep your tasty food on countertops, which leads to cats jumping spontaneously whenever they catches a smell.

  • Hide from danger

You may think your home is the safest place on earth for your cat, but things don’t always happen as planned. Households with more than one cats or dogs and cats living together may have experienced the situation that cats jump up to higher places to get away from conflicts or even fights. In addition, a worried cat also looks for high places like the counter or closet to hide, feeling unsafe on the ground and needing a more private space.


2. Why shouldn’t we let cats jump on counters?

It’s cruel to forbid cats jumping on counters; Oh, it’s unnecessary to pay attention to that; What’s the matter with cats walking around on counters? All of them you may be wondering. By writing this section, we do not mean that cats should be punished for their behaviour as there are thousands of reasons to keep cats off counters. Of course not! It depends on you whether or not you should allow them to jump to high places where you normally do not want them to be; and it is inappropriate to impose punishment too. 

However, we would like to point out some reasons as to why we shouldn’t let cats jump on countertops, which we think you would find interesting to know otherwise you wouldn’t be here, searching for ways to keep cats off counters!

  • Cats’ health

The vestibular system of cats (the ability to rotate and adjust the body so that cats can descend on their feet) makes cat owners think that it is safe for cats to jump off from a high place, let alone countertops! However, although safety is usually guaranteed thanks to this wonderful system, perfect health condition may at times be negatively affected. 

Countertops are just one or two meters in height which is safe for cats to jump on and off, but for old cats with arthritic problems, having to endure joint pressure in their knees when descending on the ground is not comfortable at all. Therefore, it is best to keep old cats off counters or at least place a soft mat below them for cats to jump down on.

Leave the joint condition beside. Let’s talk about what attracts cats most up there on counters. Food! Yes, indeed. But not every food that is edible for humans is edible for cats. Some kinds of food may put their health at risk, unknowing to us all such as garlic, shallots, and chocolate.

  • Bacteria

Oh no. Not that serious? Cats know how to keep their body clean. We understand why bacterial spread is not among your concerns over cats jumping on counters. Indeed, cats are usually seen as the cleanest domestic animal given their self-grooming, but we have to admit that their paw can be filling with litter and bacteria after they go toilet or wander outside. The dirts, fleas, or litter may stick to the food we keep on counters after our feline friends touch them.

  • Breaking things

Imagine you are standing below a counter, your cat is walking up there and she hits something, then that thing falls off to the ground. Certainly, it will break into pieces if it is made of glass or ceramic, but it is also very dangerous if the thing hits you. 

Moreover, although cats gain currency for their graceful and smooth movements, it doesn’t mean that a broken glass (still on countertops instead of falling to the ground) can never cut their paws or legs. 

Countertops are also the ideal places to keep knives or scissors that can be used in cooking, so it is best to keep cats off counters so that they cannot reach any of these pointed things.

3. What can we do to keep cats off counters?

As previously mentioned, it’s really hard to keep cats off counters with normal training techniques. Reinforcement is required, of course, but in a positive way so that cats know they shouldn’t jump up there but if at first they still do, there is no harsh punishment imposed on this behavioral pattern. 

We would like to suggest some tips for preventing cats from jumping on countertops. But don’t expect immediate results as cats need time to get used to not being wanted up on counters. 


There are a total of 7 tips you can apply.

  • Sticky tape: Does it sound familiar to you and … your cat? Sticky tape is not a good friend of cat, if you don’t want to use the phrase “bad friend”, since it irritates cats whenever their paws get into contact with tape. This can be considered as a fairly effective technique, for tape doesn’t last long. You will have to replace new one nearly every day so that it can work best. Another bad side of this method is that tape worsens your furniture in terms of aesthetic. Tape needs to be applied all over the surface of countertops to deter cats, but how ugly it can make your furniture become?
  • Aluminum foil: You list several things that cats like and aluminum foil is never included. You want to know the reason why? Very simple. Noise distraction is among the worst inconvenience for cats. Small sound down the feet is enough to irritate our feline friends, causing them to find another place that isn’t filled with aluminum foil. Nevertheless, the noise distraction initiated by aluminum foil is not really significant, so it can cost a fortune to cover the countertops with a lot of aluminum foil, enough that it can create annoying noise.
  • Hanging coins: Yes, this is another tip that involves the use of coins to make sound. Provided you have a rack or something similar above the counters, hang some coins in a row with close space between them so that whenever cats jump up there and hit the coins, they’ll clash together and the whole row of coins will definitely upset your cat. It costs a lot though and it takes much effort as well!
  • Peppermint: Mix some peppermint (very little) with water spray and apply it to the countertops. Cats hate water, which is widely known to everyone, even people that don’t raise cats. However, remember just use a very little amount of peppermint and spray as well; don’t ever spray on your cat otherwise you’ll risk losing the love your cat has for you.
  • Food removing: Do it, without hesitation. Do it, without worrying that you’ll forget the new place you keep your food! The most common temptation leading to cats jumping on counters is the smell of food up there. Any piece of catnip, dry food, canned food, or even toys. Take them all away. When there is nothing else to get their attention, cats may stop jumping up there.
  • Alternatives: What do I mean by alternatives? Primarily speaking, cats love things that are high above the ground, so if you provide them with other places to jump on like a cat tower, the frequency of cats jumping on countertops may diminish. Another way is to make a pile of books or anything that can stand and place treats on top. These things may not maintain their interest for long, but frequent changes of treats or toys may help.


We understand why you don’t want your cat on counters. You concern about their own health, especially when they are growing old and have to suffer from arthritic pain, and about the safety of your wellbeing. We really hope the tips we give you help, and we also want to make some important points here as we conclude. Don’t ever prank, yell at, spray or compare your cat with your dog. Cats don’t understand our human language, so no matter how many times you have scolded them for jumping on counters, they’ll never get the meaning of it. They just think you are behaving badly towards them. 

Spray won’t work. It just acts as a deterrent against jumping on this counter, and when you are not there, cats will find another countertop to jump on. Punishment of any kind shouldn’t be imposed as only positive reinforcement works.

We hope you have a good day with your cat and be able to keep your cat off counters!

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