Bad Cat Habit: "Counter Surfing"

I often feel like this site could just as well be called "Four Cats On The Counter," given how much time I spend chasing mine off of the counters in my kitchen.  Hubby calls it "Counter Surfing." Shaun put together this cats-eye narrative of her side of things:


I guess cats just naturally like to have a good vantage point.  Maybe it's a survival instinct or something (why else do they insist on jumping up and walking along the tops of the kitchen cabinets?)

From a hygiene perspective, however, I find this habit of theirs kind of gross.  I will not go into the icky things they carry around on their sweet little paws; suffice to say, it's my least favorite aspect of living with indoor cats.

Germs aside, there's nothing quite so aggravating as having one's freshly-baked bread, peacefully cooling on the counter, gnawed on by a cat.  Do your cats do this? Mine seem carb-obsessed.

Then of course there was the time Dianne tipped over and broke a vase while chewing the petals off a bouquet of roses from Hubby.  Flowers.  Really?

So what's a cat-lover to do?  I've tried everything from double-sided tape, to aluminum foil and more.  Here are my helpful (and cat-approved) tips for keeping your cats on the surfaces where they belong.

1. Install doors on your kitchen, if possible.  Keeping your cats OUT of the kitchen is really the only sure-fire way to win this battle.  Unfortunately, if you're like me you have an open floor plan in the kitchen, and doors are not an option.

2. IF you can remember not to shock yourself constantly, you may like the ScatMat from PetSafe ($40.)  This is a very highly-reviewed item on Amazon, and I personally own two of them.  My issue, though, is that the shocks are administered to me far more often than to the naughty little counter-surfers.  I just forget to turn it off before picking it up off the counter.  And of the three settings on the ScatMat, only the lowest one is what I'd consider humane to use (on yourself or the cats.)  Settings 2 and 3 I found quite painful, and hence quit using.  I feel like the ScatMat works best on the sofa, where I'm not taking it on and off multiple times a day. (Don't get me started on cats and sofas.)

3. If electric currents are too much for you, or you don't like the price tag on the ScatMat, try a simple spray bottle such as this one ($5.)  The cats well and truly hate it, but it is an effective deterrent. Just the hissing sound it makes while spraying water through the air is enough to get their attention. Also works well for breaking up cat squabbles.  

4.  Remove your indoor kitty to the Great Outdoors.   We had to do this with one of our cats (Punkin was fighting with everyone else), and he's perfectly happy. Our neighbors are fine with it, which is really lucky, and Punkin can climb on whatever he likes, all day long.  This may not be a workable solution for you if your HOA has strict rules against outdoor cats (many prohibit them), or if your neighbors hate having cats picking plump birdies off their bird feeders.  There is a whole school of thought that argues against keeping cats outdoors (it does shorten their life expectancy, and you do have to keep them vaccinated against things like rabies in case they tangle with a wild animal.  Talk with your vet about other vaccines your kitty might need before going outside.)  All these things are important to consider in your own pet family, and your neighborhood situation.

I liked the advice from a 1946 housekeeping manual that I found in an antique store, which suggested putting a cushion on top of the refrigerator for kitty to sleep on, thus allowing her to see what was going on without standing on the counters.  Will have to try that one!


Best of luck always,



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