Q&A: How To Keep Cats Off Counter Tops

Jackson answers your questions via video.

 “How do you keep cats off the dining room table and the counters?”

Jackson talks about how he feels about “counter surfing,” how he deals with it in his own home, and gives you options on how you can deal with it.

  1. Cortney   August 10, 2012 at 9:44 am  

    I let my cats on the table, counters, cabinets, fridge… My parents strictly forbid them from going on those surfaces but little do they know that every night and every time they aren’t around they sleep on the table, get on the counters… I clean a lot and don’t leave anything out so it doesn’t bother me. I’ve noticed that since I’ve stopped yelling at them for it they don’t even do it as much. My one cat loves to sleep on top of the cabinets though. I think it’s cute.

    Reply
    1. Tina Toler   September 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm  

      Well, the way I see this, is that, it doesn’t bother me, when my cat,Miss Gracie,wants to get up on the countertops;because I know that she’s going to do so, when I’m around, or not… She even likes to get into the bathroom sink, and curl up in it;and I’ve even caught her in the kitchen sink,directing her mouth, under the faucet, as if to try and catch the drops of water from it;even though I do provide her with fresh water everyday…When she was still staying with my mother, my mom would scold Miss Gracie, for getting on her countertops;to the point, that Miss Gracie, would be a “nervous wreck”, from being yelled at…. Since I have taken over the care of Miss Gracie;I allow her to do certain things;but at the same time, I do try and discipline her, when she needs it… And a gentle swat on her butt, usually gets my point across to her,without hurting her….The only thing that I do, if I start cooking, I just take a damp rag, and wipe off her cat hairs off of the stove, and go about my business;because, like I said before, this fettish that Miss Gracie has, about countertops, doesn’t bother me that much…

      Reply
  2. cheryl   August 10, 2012 at 9:54 am  

    I’m with Jackson on this one…get over it! Clorox wipes? Nah, just think of it as building your immunity! We have 8 cats, 6 get on counter and tables. If I’m cooking, they usually know when it’s something they might like. Once they get their little treat, yes I coddle my kids, they usually leave me alone.

    Reply
  3. Tim   August 10, 2012 at 10:58 am  

    I agree. I have two cats and they go whereever they please. Like children, when you aren’t home they are going to explore up there even though they know you don’t like them to be up there. It should be good practice for people to disinfect their counters and tables before eating or cooking on them, so no biggie in my book.

    Reply
  4. skitmom   August 10, 2012 at 11:24 am  

    We prefer Jackson’s other tip. Even in our fairly cramped kitchen, we have a small island. We put a little piece of fuzzy fake sheepskin with non-skid backing on this island (a tad higher than counter), and let him know that was his space, not to be moved or messed with. We DO have a cat willing to meet us halfway, so when we gave him his own place NOT on the counter, he was more than satisfied with that. As long as he can see what’s going on! ;) We don’t like him on the counter b/c it’s not safe for HIM. (yeah, otherwise, we too use many Clorox wipes; but so far his fav place other than the fuzzy mat is the top of the fridge and that’s no prob.)

    Reply
  5. Jacquelyn   August 10, 2012 at 11:51 am  

    I have 2 nosey kittens that will not stay off the counters. They started out eating my fresh flowers on my living room table ( so I can no longer have fresh flowers in my house ). Now all i have are 2 bamboo plants that I had up on a shelf until they knocked 1 off and broke the vase ( ugh what a mess ). So as I cleaned the mess I realised they had eaten all the leaves off both plants. I put them over the kitchen sink and now they keep getting on my counters to get to the plants. So now I put them on top of the fridge, but it is only a matter of time before they find them again and I will no longer be able to have plants in my home. I also have a 6 year old cat that we got from the humane society that eats toilet paper ( vet has no clue why she does it ). Sometimes I get really frustrated with all of them and want to send them all on their way : (
    #tired of dealing with it

    Reply
    1. Tammy   August 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm  

      Hi Jacquelyn,

      I’m not a cat owner yet, but I’ve been doing tons of research as part of my planning efforts to adopt a cat in the near future. There are some things you can do to stop the nosey kitten behavior around your potted plants, such as installing one of Jackson Galaxy’s stay away deterrents (as he mentioned in his video) around the area where you want to keep the plants (http://www.spiritessences.com/StayAway-Motion-activated-Pet-Deterrent-Refill-p/contech-stayaway.htm). Also, I was reading about kitten behavior, especially when it comes to eating inappropriate or even dangerous plants on WebMd, and it had some good advice on how to keep the kittens safe: http://pets.webmd.com/cats/ss/slideshow-taking-care-of-kitten

      I hope your 6 year old cat is not suffering from Pica. Jackson Galaxy’s recent episode went over some tips on how to work with a cat that suffers from Pica, and WebMd also has some info about this: http://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/unusual-cat-cravings

      I hope you’re able to find some good information that helps you with all of the kitty challenges, and most of all I hope you don’t have to give up any of the kitties! Best of luck.

      Tammy

      Reply
    2. Krisika   October 5, 2012 at 2:49 am  

      that sounds really frustrating! I’ve had plants, dinners, collectibles, pictures etc knocked down too… I get so frustrated with them… It’s just part of being a cat lover I guess. They are such a blessing yet so annoying sometimes. Better they have good homes though :)

      Reply
      1. Jo   June 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm  

        Indoor cats love the grass! It’s a natural antacid too.
        They need to have some basic needs met like grass. My cats have both indoor and outdoor access but when it rains they stay inside. They still want the grass inside and the cat condo! It’s awesome.

        Reply
    3. Stephanie   April 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm  

      I had the exact same problem with my tabby named Aston. I couldn’t keep any fresh flowers ANYWHERE. So I went to petsmart hellbent on fixing this problem. What I found that helped was cat grass. It’s actual grass that is safe for your cat to nibble on. I Placed it in all her favorite places and I noticed she was so drawn to It that she would leave my Plants alone.

      Reply
  6. Nancy Gray   August 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm  

    Tried the air horn it scared my 3 cats so badly that they were hiding under the bed. Will not use again, they can go were they want. The dining table is one of their favorite places, because I use it as a desk. I have a table cloth on the table that I take off and change when using the table for eating and use cutting boards when preparing food.

    Reply
    1. Kathy   August 11, 2012 at 7:34 am  

      air blaster…not air horn! It shoots a puff of air….google motion-activated pet deterrent

      Reply
  7. Patricia   August 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm  

    When my seven cats were kittens, I simply started “correcting” the behavior, that I found destructive and unhygienic, by keeping small squirt bottles filled with water in conspicuous places near counter tops, living room tables and near curtains. This works amazingly well at curbing behaviors you might not want them indulging in – such as tearing up curtains, furniture and hopping up on the counter/tabletop to partake of your meal or maul that beautiful bouquet of flowers. Just a little squirt and they are on their way. And it only takes a couple of weeks of “correcting” before the incredibly smart cat gets the message. And mind you, before anyone says that it’s cruel…what’s cruel is digging into my pocketbook to replace and repair the things they could destroy and the meals I feel I would have to replace, but just allowing a cat to be a cat. They have their places to roam, scratch posts to tend to their nails and cat trees to perch in and all are happy campers.

    Reply
  8. Rebecca   August 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm  

    We gave up. Both our cats climb and jump and generally get everywhere. We hit the kitchen surfaces with disinfectant and/or use clean cutting boards. Mostly, though, they’re only up there on their way to the cabinets or top of the fridge (there’s actually an alternative route to these places, but one of our cats just isn’t athletic enough and the other one gets lazy. The dining room table is another favorite lounging spot because, at the right time of day, it gets hit with sunbeams. So the tablecloth we have on it most of the time is basically a sacrifice to cat hair. We leave it down for aesthetics (that corner needs the color) but when we actually want to, like, eat we take it off and put down either another cloth or placemats.

    Now, when my husband’s chopping up meat, it can get a little intense. Sometimes we just have to lock them in a bedroom so they don’t get accidentally declawed. And one of them stalks the vegetables as well. WTF?

    Reply
  9. Heather   August 11, 2012 at 4:12 am  

    I have 5 cats. Mr D. is the alpha, 15 y/o, Quinn 14, Michelin, 8, Cali & Kat 2. Mr.D tree dweller, gets on table, but rarely kitchen counters. Quinn has a space in the kitchen, it is somewhat out of the way, I tried the scat to try to get him to stay down, but he figured out how to get around it. If it did go off, he ignored it. This is the only height he gets on. Michelin is our big boy. He weighs 20+ pounds so he stays on the floor most of the time. He does visit with Mr.D on the table or on the couch. But he keeps to his bed on the floor most of the time. Cali is a tree dweller that sticks to the cat trees and has never gotten on the counters.She does cruise the table some. Kat is a between tree and bush dweller. Like her sister she has never gotten on the counters, and she does cruise the table some.
    My husband does lots of cooking. The cats know to stay clear of the kitchen when he is cooking. In fact, they sense he will be be using the kitchen when he starts bring food out and cookware. It is amazing they stay clear. Never had to “teach” them, they just know.
    My cats have the run of the house. All of my cats always have. Over my adult life I have been a “mom” to at least 12 cats. They all learned that “no” means to move on. I have always been fascinated with felines. Each one is so individual and have given us hours of entertainment, love and companionship.

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  10. Barbara   August 11, 2012 at 7:24 pm  

    I have a 4yr old female torishell color house domestic cat that was feral when she first came into my house. she takes to me cover everyone else in the family. But i have a problem with her. She poops everywere in the house including the litter box sometimes. i have 2 other house cats 1 calico 1 all large like a coon cat. i don’t have any problems with them and the all get along well( except during mating season they like to dry hump my female). All my cats are fixed. Please help me with my female, i love her so much but my family hates her for what she does. I hope u can help me.

    Reply
    1. cheryl   August 12, 2012 at 9:33 am  

      Barbara,
      i don’t have this problem but everything I’ve read about cats and litter boxes is to have one litterbox per cat plus one. I have 8 cats and 6 boxes, but all of our kids are indoor/outdoor. Most of ours prefer to go outside to do their business. Try setting up an additional box or two in a room where the pooper likes to hang out and see if that helps! I resisted doing this some time back but found that is the best way to keep peace in the family. Good luck.

      Reply
  11. Barbara   August 17, 2012 at 6:09 pm  

    ok i’ll try it with 2 litter boxes. i’ll let you no if it works! thanks.

    Reply
    1. Cheryl   August 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm  

      Barbara,
      Also, bear in mind that many cats have pathway issues, meaning they may have a hard time passing another cat in tight quarters, like hallways or doorways. We definitely have this issue and they know exactly what they are doing when they lay down in the middle of a pathway! Your guys may not be fighting but they might be playing mind games with each other. Put your new box in a more open area where the kitties don’t feel trapped on approach to the box. I hope this helps you!

      Reply
  12. Barbara   August 19, 2012 at 6:33 pm  

    hi cherly. like your comments i’m gonna try having an extra litter box in the house thanks. also i have two male cats as well as the female that likes to poop all over. my female is the only one of the three that poops all over. the males don’t. i like to bring her into my bedroom at night also, but sometimes i can’t that’s when she seems to get spitefull and poos outside the litter box, in the hall way of the room where the litter box is on the rug down stairs ( no where’s near the litter box, all over like that! i will put up another litter box in my downstairs bathroom. but what will stop the males from using it also?

    Reply
    1. Stephanie   August 23, 2012 at 10:06 am  

      Barbara!!!!
      Cats are NOT spiteful! It sounds like you have three cats… you should have at least three litter boxes. Don’t worry about which one is using which box, the cats will sort that out themselves.

      Reply
      1. Barbara   August 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm  

        Hi Stephanie,
        Thanks for your advice. i went to Petco 3 nights ago and they gave me the same advice about the litter boxes. Now have 3 cats and 3 litter boxes also picked up Dr.Elsey’s Cat Attract and put it in all the litter boxes. the person i spoke to at Petco said this would solve my problem as well as the extra litter box. Now it’s three days and no poop any where except the litter boxes. So far all is good!!!! Will keep you in formed on our progress.

        Reply
        1. Cheryl   August 28, 2012 at 8:44 am  

          Barbara, thanks for providing an update on your cats. I’m so glad the extra boxes are working! There can be peace in the family!!!

          Reply
  13. KRISTIN REED   August 25, 2012 at 8:38 am  

    I have 2 male RAGDOLLS (brothers of same litter) I’ve had since they were 12 weeks old. One of them is, biting off and pulling out by the roots, the other ones eyebrows and whiskers! I think he is trying to show dominance, however . . . My poor baby boy, that used to have GLORIOUS EYEBROWS AND WHISKERS, is now almost TOTALLY EYEBROWLESS AND WHISKERRLESS! Will this eventually stop, will they grow back, and how can I put a stop to this?
    PLEASE HELP ME!
    Kris

    Reply
  14. Lisa   August 27, 2012 at 8:12 am  

    Any suggestions on how to get my cat to stop unrolling the toilet paper and using all the kleenexes??

    Reply
    1. Mona   April 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm  

      I have found that an open book on top of the toilet paper has helped my two kitties forget that it is there. (Keep your fingers crossed)

      Reply
  15. Cheryl   August 28, 2012 at 8:49 am  

    @ Kristin, I would wonder if the one cat that is pulling the whiskers is bored. You might try the play sequence that Jackson talks about.
    @Lisa, we had a cat that did the toilet paper thing and we ended up putting plastic bags over the rolls that were out and it stopped that action. Again, he may be bored — put the kleenex in the cabinet and plastic bags on the toilet paper and try the play sequence.
    Good Luck to both of you!

    Reply
  16. Morgan   September 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm  

    Hello everyone, I was wondering an easy way to keep one of our cats off, since we can’t afford some of the various things he’s mentioned in his video. We have one cat that (luckily) doesn’t even go up on the counter, simply because she’s too bipolar and fat to successfully get up there. The other one however, is up there every time he hears the can opener, dishwasher or any time he hears activity in the kitchen. It frustrates my mother quite a bit, and she’s actually made a bed for him up on top of the fridge, hoping he’d go there instead but he does either one. I really could care less if he’s up there, because they make disinfectants for a reason but it’s difficult to see her stressed over such little things when I could help. So if anyone has any ideas on some way to maybe make something that’ll keep him off, that’d be great!

    Reply
    1. Kat   April 2, 2014 at 5:19 pm  

      Try squirt bottles with water in them. Obviously doesn’t work if you’re not in there to use it, but it’s a harmless way to tell the cat they’re not wanted up there, and they’ll learn to get down as soon as they see the bottle. My Siamese, in fact, will stop what he’s doing if I blow air through my teeth at him, because it sounds like the squirt bottle. if waters not quite enough of a deterrent, a little bit of vinegar in the water helps. It’s physically harmless in such small doses, but it smells so strongly that it does what getting wet sometimes won’t.

      Reply
  17. David   September 4, 2012 at 3:12 am  

    We have 3 cats and they don’t do counters unless the alpha is hunting geckos, then there is no way to keep her off, she’s a huntress and that’s it.. They occasionally get on the table but we found that if we brought home cardboard boxes from Costco each week that they would rather lay on or in the box than on the table. Kids and their toys, go figure.

    Reply
    1. Pat   September 4, 2012 at 5:46 pm  

      Ours is, and has been, a multi cat household for nearly 30 yrs. Our late 20+ yr old Maine Coon (Rusty) took to peeing in various corners around the house about 5 months before he succumbed to kidney failure. Since he started this, one of the other cats (we don’t know which) is now using those same spots, very inconsistently – it can be a week or two between incidents. Can someone please recommend a good, effective enzyme cleaner for real hardwood (not laminate) floors? Resource for it/them?

      Thanx for any and all suggestions!

      Reply
      1. Cheryl   September 5, 2012 at 10:28 am  

        Pat, we use Nature’s Secret Weapon (http://www.naturessecretweapon.com/). We have found that it’s better than any other, and we’ve tried many. It has a nice scent and seems to work well. I can’t speak about real hardwood floors though, we have wood floors but they were not well done to begin with and therefore I don’t worry too much about them. We occasionally have intruders come up on our porch at night and spray and for this I go out and spray the affected area and just let it dry naturally. Our indoor/outdoor cats no longer stop there to check it out or add there spray to the mix. If you are unsure about this product, call them. I actually talked to the owner of the company when I was in the market for only a black light. He talked me into trying his product and I’m really glad I did! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Good Luck!

        Reply
      2. Kat   April 2, 2014 at 5:35 pm  

        Haven’t tried the Nature’s Secret Weapon, but we use Nature’s Miracle (http://www.natures-miracle.com/products/pet-odor-stain-removers/original-cat-stain-odor-remover-get-rid-of-cat-odor-urine.aspx) and it works great. They even make a laundry additive, which will take the odor out of sprayed-on clothing.
        Before using the enzyme cleaner, use a little water and a sponge to clean up any excess residue that might still be on the wood, and then spray on the cleaner. I’d read the instructions, but when we had one of the cats spray on the floor, we let the cleaner sit for about five minutes, and then wiped it up and patted the area dry.

        Reply
  18. Shannon   September 5, 2012 at 1:42 am  

    I have two adolescent males who happen to be litter mates. They don’t really get on the counter (thought I’ve had other cats that did).

    On occasion they get on the dining room table but oddly never when we’re eating. We also have two human boys so we’re always wiping things off anyway. The humans are much messier than the cats…just sayin. Our kitchen is tiny and we don’t spend much time in there sooo… the cats don’t either.

    Bailey’s favorite spot is dead center of my desk. I often have to move my keyboard out of his way. I choose to allow this because I find his presence calming. He’s calm, I’m calm everybody’s happy.

    His brother junior can generally be found on a chair near by. I feel like I have little furry body guards.

    In my opinion nothing beats caring for litter mates. They have a playmate and generally will play with them not terrorize them. Litter mates have a whole different dynamic than two cats who just happen to be adopted by the same family.

    Reply
  19. Anna   September 6, 2012 at 8:34 am  

    I actually had to train my cats to use the counter when I feed them as I’m having hip replacement surgery in a few days and can’t bend over to feed them on the floor. It is so much easier and safer for me to feed them on the counter. Thankfully, I have one long counter that I’ve only used as a “catch all” counter and it’s not really near any food areas. I wash off the counter after they are done eating since they sometimes drop small pieces of their canned food. I live alone and this is the best way for me to take care of myself. Now, however, when I can bend again, I may have to revisit feeding them on the counter, but for now, it is not a big deal and a great help to me.

    Reply
  20. Melissa   September 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm  

    @Rebecca – give your cats a selection of lettuces and veggies. It will fix the issues. Cats are carnivores but they love their veggies (and some fruits).

    They’re all little foodies (in moderation) and when I’m making a salad or veggies, they all get little heaps – mine love butter lettuce and the organic rocket blend. I have one that loves apples – you just need to find what they like and ensure they get that. Apple boy doesn’t get apples more than once every six or so months – it’s his favorite treat, but lettuce/carrot/broccoli blends – they get all they want.

    Try it. Corn, lettuces, etc – you’ll find what they like and you’ll all thank you for taking care of their palates and digestive systems.

    Reply
  21. Dianda   September 27, 2012 at 6:59 am  

    I don’t mind cats being on the table. But they know they’re not allowed on it when we’re eating or when there’s food on it.

    Reply
  22. Sharon   October 16, 2012 at 7:54 pm  

    Where can I purchase a black light to check where my cats may be sprayihg?

    Reply
    1. Cheryl   October 17, 2012 at 10:08 am  

      Sharon,
      We’ve bought two lights, one that stopped working almost immediately. Our second one is better. It was purchased from http://www.naturessecretweapon.com. I would highly recommend the Special Value Kit which contains the black light flashlight and a bottle of cleaner. We have found that Nature’s Secret Weapon cleaner is superior to any other (and we’ve tried many) and it smells wonderful. The cleaner is also listed as a stain remover but when I spoke the owner at Nature’s he could not recommend this for vomit stains (we have 8 cats so we have a lot of hair balls!). For vomit we use Nature’s Miracle which is made by a different company but is easy to find on-line. Good Luck!

      Reply
      1. Sharon   October 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm  

        Cheryl,
        Thank you for this invaluable information. My Special Value Kit arrived in the mail today and I have already started to use the blacklight and cleaner. To my dismay there is a lot more spraying than we thought. The cleaner is working great and have more confidence that when our holiday guest arrived it will seem less like we share our home with five cats.

        Thank you again,
        Sharon

        Reply
        1. Cheryl   October 24, 2012 at 11:01 am  

          Sharon,
          We found that the black light picks up more than just urine so look for the drips and puddling that comes with spraying. We’ve had some minor mold issues in our home and the light makes it glow, but since it’s not a drip pattern we simply ignore it. If you figure out how to make your cats happy and not spray let me know what you’ve done. We added two adult cats to our clan recently and one of the older boys is not happy about it. We suspect he is losing his place high on the ladder but don’t quite what else to do to help him understand that he has the same place in our hearts. Glad to help you!
          Cheryl

          Reply
  23. KRISTIN REED   October 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm  

    Ok folks . . . NEW NEWS on the WHISKER & EYEBROW REMOVING!
    My one “ALPHA MALE ” (who is pulling out his brother’s whiskers and and eyebrows) HAS RESORTED TO SOMETHING NEW! HE PEEDED A VERY LARGE AMOUNT OF PEE SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR BED YESTERDAY (with a 100% COTTON GEORGIOUS IRREPLACEABLE $200.00 dollar Quilt & 100% cotton king sheets @ the tune of around $150.00 dollars a set!!)
    We give BOTH brothers the SAME AMOUNT OF ATTENTION, LOVE, HUGS, and KISSES ETC . . . HELP!! these cats were EXTEMELY EXPENSIVE and I am actually considering taking the alpha to the pound! He is VERY LOVABLE, obedient and beautiful. He loves my husband and I as well as his bro . . . I DON’T UNDERSTAND! Can anyone help us???

    Reply
    1. Sally   October 30, 2012 at 4:13 am  

      My son and daughter in law had the SAME thing happen and they added a hormonal air dispersal product (Feliway is the brand) that they got at the vet. You get a solution bottle that wicks into the air, and it’s plugged into an outlet In the room to warm and disperse it. It addresses his anxiety, which was presumed to be a cause, once a bladder or urinary tract infection was ruled out. You still need to treat the bedding with an enzyme odor neutralizer. Problem alleviated. When my female started peeing outside the litter box, I added litter boxes and added this product on each floor of the house, and it brought the incidence down to almost never.

      Reply
    2. Cheryl   October 30, 2012 at 10:09 am  

      I wish Jackson would chime in on this one, but I don’t think he will. This is a difficult problem to solve, we know as we have a pisser too. Here are some things to try though (things that we are doing).
      There is a product called Feliway that is a feline facial pheromone that you can buy as a diffuser and as a spray. I have been getting it from Amazon or Entirely Pets (entirelypets.com). We have two diffusers going all the time (they last about a month before refilling). We also spray areas that have been “attractive” to our spraying cat(s). The key is to spray at their level, near the floor. We’re also trying Jackson’s Safe Space for Cats — the jury is still out on this product.
      You need to be sure to clean up any urine with a good product. We use Nature’s Secret Weapon (http://www.naturessecretweapon.com/). I would recommend their Special Value Kit which include cleaner concentrate and a blacklight flashlight. We have found this cleaner to superior to any other tried including the product that Jackson recommends.
      You might try Jackson’s play sequence once or twice a day. We have not tried this yet.

      Clearly, this cat is unhappy, at least that is what we think is the problem here. All of our cats (8) have access to the outdoors all day, most days, but are in at night and our main sprayer is still not happy. We think our main issue is one particular cat (who came with aggresion issues) and two new ones that were came as adults about a year ago. Bailey (the sprayer) is used to being the head of the household and he is being replaced by others. We’ve also tried antidepressants for him but it’s too expensive to keep going with this avenue(it has to be compounded), it works but it changes their overall behavior too.
      I wish you luck and I also wish I could help you more as then we would have our problem solved too. This seems to be a BIG problem among cat guardians. Good Luck!

      Reply
    3. Joan   December 20, 2012 at 11:51 pm  

      This happened to my granddaughter–the cat did the exact same thing. She solved the problem by washing an extra blanket used by her husband that he had set on the bed as a kind of extra pillow. OK, you may not have such a blanket or afghan laying on the bed, but there may be some kind of smell on it that is inspiring the behavior. Wash the covers with borateem or borax and a cap full of the new Crystals–smells awfully perfumey but does well at getting cat odors out of fabrics. Next time–don’t spend hundreds of bucks on bedding. I once wanted a Mercedes Benz… then I saw one with a smashed fender! Get your perspective. The more expensive something is, the more likely you will be told it has to be dry cleaned. You can also try re-training your cat(s). Put them in a small room until you are sure they are using the box. Then let them have an additional space in which to roam. Remember it takes once to learn a bad habit, seven (or more) repetitions to unlearn it. Be patient. You have time. Watch them closely to see exactly what they do–chances are, they will be following you around, just watching you and spending time near you.

      Reply
    4. Kat   April 2, 2014 at 5:52 pm  

      Are they neutered? That can be a cause of spraying/peeing right there, as they get older and get territorial.

      I agree with some of the others that an anti-anxiety type booster might help. Holistic types are probably your best bet, simply to avoid chemical interactions. I use one by Bach called ‘Rescue Remedy'; my Siamese is very, VERY needy and has abandonment problems (even though he’s never been abandoned in his life). The Rescue Remedy goes in his water, and it just helps him to stay a little calmer, without having to resort to actual medication. The Feliway sounds like a really neat way to treat the cats, too, though nobody at my household has tried it yet.

      I don’t know about the borax thing, but I know that Nature’s Miracle puts out a stain/odor remover that can be used in the washer for peed on clothing/bedding. You kind of have to use a lot of it, but it really does get the stain and the odor out. I live in a household with seven cats (three combined households), but there hasn’t been any re-marking of areas after we use the NM. And with the Rescue Remedy in the water, we don’t get territorial battles as often as we did in the beginning.

      Reply
  24. Jamie   December 21, 2012 at 9:51 am  

    As weird as it sounds, I used boxes (cereal or similar sized) and set them on their edge along the edge of my counters in the kitchen when I went to bed or was not going to be home. After a few a few weeks, I noticed Artie didn’t try jumping on the counters anymore, so I stopped using the boxes. He has not jumped on a counter ever since then. Not in the kitchen, not in the bathroom, not anywhwere. And that was three years ago. Of course, he may jump on counters now when no one is around, but I never notice any of his cat hair on the counters, so I’m assuming he doesn’t. He’s a smart cookie! :)

    Reply
  25. danell   December 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm  

    lucy eats paper she has been mad since i brought my last 2 rescue cats in. i couldnt find them homes… we are at 12 cats in the house all spayed n nuetered however lucy never did care for other cats wont play with them and when one wants to play with her she gets really mean. also she only plays with me will not play with adult cats. and yes she always liked rescue kittens does not like adult cats!!!.kitten grew up now she hates him.

    Reply
  26. geoffrey   January 7, 2013 at 10:07 am  

    I wrote before but without a reply. But I persist. Like my kitties. Two cats taken from a feral colony, that my sister feeds, when they had just been weaned, about 5 weeks old. Zena sits on the kitchen counter, on the edge of the sink. She stays there as long as an hour at a time. This is annoying when trying to make dinner, or lunch or anytime. When the water is turned on, she attempts to catch it with her paw and/or sticks her head under the stream to drink from it. We keep the counter free of food and dishes. We wipe it down when she has been there. As you have already surmised, water doesn’t bother her. Air blaster spurts of air amuse her. The coins in a can routine she ignores. Same for her sister, Maggie. I am puzzled as to why she has steadfastly continued to do this after months. Both of the girls are curious explorers. Anything I touch invites them to examine it. I know this is in their DNA structure and important for survival, especially for a feral cat. I also believe that this is a trait that can become a genetic fact after only one generation due to epigenetic factors. But for most things, she eventually gets bored and will leave off if I indicate that it is not what I want her to do. I indicate it by repeatedly removing her from the edge of the sink; sometime putting her on another spot of the counter from whence she can climb up on the cupboards. But she returns to the sink for her vigil.
    Do you have any ideas about this?

    Geoffrey 508-872-8751 zeno@empire.net

    Reply
    1. Cheryl   January 9, 2013 at 2:57 pm  

      Geoffrey, My advice is to get a camera and start getting some really fun shots of these girls, they sound amazing! Honestly though, it is my belief that some cats are going to do what they want to do regardless of what you try to do to keep them from it. I have two and sometimes three that help me with dinner each night. If there is milk involved I have a crowd (we have 8 cats!), so I provide a sip for anyone that wants it and set it on the floor or away from where I am cooking. That usually satisfies them. When I first had Bailey (one of our most intelligent cats) I tried over and over putting him down on the floor but he kept on coming back. I finally just gave up and decided to get over it. This is what has provided peace in our family. It’s a cats world, we just live in it!

      Reply
      1. geoffrey   January 15, 2013 at 8:06 am  

        Thank you for your reply. I do have a camera but these girls are A). Camera shy and B). Know when Im going to take pictures and vanish. C). i too am crafty and have managed to take many interesting, funny and also blurred pics. Trying to understand why the sink is so fascinating to them that is my question.
        Geoffrey

        Reply
    2. Mags E   May 4, 2013 at 4:49 am  

      I have a cat that also loves to shower in my kitchen sink…here’s a thought. Get a pet water fountain. I have 3 of them along with 2 regular water bowls. My shower kitty now can regularly stick his head in the water fountain to drink, the others like to wash their paws, I have eleven in all, all rescues, and then lick their paws. They seem to have learned this from an elder named Amos. Harley is the hairball that likes to bathe in it. This may or may not help but it couldn’t hurt. Cats are drawn to water and they love fresh water, this may be why Zena is sitting there waiting to it to be turned on????

      Reply
    3. Kat   April 2, 2014 at 5:59 pm  

      Second the idea of the pet fountain! Two of our cats refuse to drink out of regular bowls now that we have the fountain. Drinkwell (find them on Amazon.com) makes several different models, and one of them might help distract your girls from the sink. Aside from that… have you tried Jackson’s clicker training? Maybe set up a spot for her that isn’t next to the sink, on like a stool or something, and teach her to sit there?

      Reply
  27. elaine froehlich   January 13, 2013 at 6:06 pm  

    Jackson, thanks for supporting the idea of cats on the counter. I have 2 cats. one never tries to get on the counter. the other one always wants to be on the counter. he goes there for the third reason that you didn’t present in the video: he wants to be near me. how could I not want to let him stay? I’m working on the concept of “your side, my side” with him. so he can stay on his side while I’m doing whatever I’m doing on mine. he’s not that interested in people food so he’s not there for a treat. the only time that is different is when I’m preparing his food. then I insist he stay on his little box next to the counter and wait patiently, which he is usually very good at. my friends criticize me for allowing my cats to have the run of the house, but the cats seem to be pretty happy so why would I want to change our harmonious lives? I’m going to quote you in support of counter surfing. thanks.

    Reply
  28. Crystal H   February 21, 2013 at 1:52 am  

    We have 2 older cats and just rescued a 6 month old kitten before the holidays. He is now around 9 months give or take. He has just started with the counter problem. It’s mainly when we are cooking. He will also dive bomb your plate while your eating. It has become such a hassel. I worry that he’s going to eat something and get sick. I tried Pet Block he licked it off the cabinets. He loves water. Sticky Paws worked for a week and then he figured how to get around it. Scatttt went off on the older cats and when the can was empty the kitten was back to his old tricks. Like he’s laughing at us. We now have gotten the sonic mat which was recommened by my coworker. My husband says if it doesn’t work we are just going to have to give him back to the rescue.

    Reply
    1. Cheryl   February 23, 2013 at 11:38 am  

      Patience is the key word here. You may never get him totally trained to stay off the counters, I sure haven’t and we have 8, six of which get on the counter. I offer a small serving of canned cat food in the evening as a reward for coming into the house (we’re indoor/outdoor here) and I usually have several cats trying to get at the treat before it’s all served up. I keep pushing them back and saying “no” (not shouting) because the rule here is you have to wait until all bowls are dished up. They know the rule and continue to try anad break it! No point in getting mad, they’re kind of like kids where they keep pushing the limits. During your meals you might try putting him in another room so he’s not into your plates. While cooking I will sometimes offer a taste of milk or meat juice which will sate them and they will know that there is no more treats. It takes time. Cats are all different and independent. Good luck, I really hope you don’t give up.

      Reply
    2. geoffrey   February 25, 2013 at 7:44 am  

      I have two kittens I rescued from a feral colony. They also love to jump on the kitchen counter, watch the water from the faucet, try to get on the table when we are eating. I got kitchen disinfectant wipes and wipe the counter after they are on it. I give them treats for getting off and also distract them while my wife cooks dinner.
      When we have dinner, the kittens were put in the bedroom until we finished. However now, after much talking and indicating with them, they understand we dont want them there at that time and they will no longer do it. It was a matter of communication. It’s also an issue with the natural, built-in curiousity of kittens. Having that urge is how they learn about the world when they can’t read the manual. It is vital that they exercise that urge. It also is challenging to human caregivers but please find an answer instead of giving up your kitten. You chose him or her for good reasons; this is one of the stages that cats and humans go through and its our job as parents/companions to work through the attendent problems. There may be other events which will challenge you in this kittens life; how would you react to those things like illness or accident? There’s also the fact that this can be a delightful time if you don’t allow yourself to get upset.

      Geoffrey

      Reply
      1. Kathy   February 27, 2013 at 4:29 pm  

        A well-worded reply!
        Thank you, Geoffrey!

        Reply
  29. suu   March 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm  

    hi .. i have trouble with my cats. they like to eat from any garbage container in my neighbourhood, although i have feed them regularly. they just like to do that because it’s open (some container cannot be closed). so, how can i stop them to eat that garbage? thanks .,

    Reply
    1. geekygourmet   April 5, 2013 at 11:58 pm  

      suu,
      the only way you’re going to get your furry kids to stop eating from the neighborhood trash is to keep them indoors. it would be far safer for the little guys, because you never know what people have tossed out that may either kill them, or make them sick.

      as for the counters… i only scold my kitties when i actually catch them and don’t want them up on the counters, and usually all that I have to do is say ‘down’ or ‘off’ and they will get down and that will be the end of it until the next time something catches their curiosity and we play that all over again, or not. it really sucks when my cat got up on the counter and helped himself to what he thought was his own personal buffet as the rest of the family ate dinner. it didn’t happen often, but all it took was one trip through the five-cheese macaroni and cheese buffet line to make him horribly sick all over the house.. and the poor thing was corked up for days and when he finally was able to get the remains of the buffet out of his little derriere, he ran from the bathroom like the stink was chasing him.

      Reply
    2. Reine   April 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm  

      IMO, a cat that is kept indoors-only is less at-risk for disease, and injury; and as an added bonus, they can’t do midnight snack raids on the neighbor’s garbage. Eating from the garbage no doubt has risk of food-borne illness (samonella? food poisoning?) and injury (sharp can lids? broken glass?). Kitties can be happy indoors-only if they are well-exercised, have access to a window, and lots of fun, interactive play.

      Reply
  30. sharon   April 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm  

    Does any one ever hear of training your cat to stay off of the counter. If one does not teach the animal anything they do not learn. When your cat goes on the counter, and you catch them slap your hand on the counter hard and say NO!! loud. And plus hit them on the butt, NOT hard to hurt them just a tap. they get the hint. I have never had a cat that did that. And I will not have it. I could put food on my counter and MY two cats never went up there. I had a crock pot full of chicken soup they never touched it. They knew. Plus always have some place where they can look out the window.. yes Jackson is right we put our food up there and prepare our food on there. I see in his house as in most the cat runs the house not him. The are the alpha, he for sure is not. I will never have an out of control cat. I rule the house not an animal.

    Reply
  31. Kay   April 19, 2013 at 5:51 am  

    I have 2 cats. I feed Jaxson his wet food on the counter so Louie doesn’t eat it. Louie is huge, Jax is small. Louie has just realized he can jump on the counter and is now eating all of Jax’s food. Any suggestions ?

    Reply
  32. Reine   April 19, 2013 at 2:02 pm  

    My suggestion / idea would be to put Louie in his kennel or a bathroom / separate room while Jax is eating.

    Reply
    1. Kay DePaolo   April 20, 2013 at 10:32 am  

      The problem with that is that Jax is a grazer and eats little bits throughout a long period of time. Every option I can come up with feels like it is punishing Jax, which is not right.

      Reply
  33. Noelle   July 25, 2013 at 8:01 pm  

    Hello Jackson,

    First of all, I’m a big fan and I love your show. I am a full-time student living by myself with my cat in Phoenix, AZ. I hand carried my cat (Tomsarr) all the way from the Middle East and he is an adorable half Persian and DSH 2-year old male. He is extremely social and follows me from room to room, but he has these aggressive outbursts where he attacks me ferociously everyday. I have to keep a spray water bottle with me at all times to prevent his unprovoked bites. His eyes dilate and he has deep “meows” whenever he attacks. He tends to attack those who spend a lot of time around him, though he definitely attacks me the most and the hardest.

    I try to play with him as much as possible, but with my busy schedule it’s very difficult for me to devout a lot of time entertaining him. Even when I spend a good portion of my day playing with him over the weekend, he still bites. It makes me so sad that I can’t figure out what’s making him do this. I took him to the vet and he turned out to be in good health. The doctor recommended that I give him drugs everyday to make him more docile and calm. I’m not a big fan of this idea because I don’t think it will solve the root problem.

    Please help me with my cat, I love him so much and I just want him to be comfortable. I want to enjoy my pet without him adding stress to my life, but that’s unfortunately the case at this moment. It seems like I’ve tried everything under the sun with him but the drugs. If this is one of the only solutions please let me know.

    Thank you for continuing to educate cat owners about their pets. I hope to hear back from you soon.

    -Noelle

    Reply
  34. becky henderson   August 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm  

    I am having a problem with my cat getting in the kitchen sink. I can not tolerate this.This is something new. He has been getting on the countertops and that is a big problem and now in the sink. I don’t know what to do. I hate to get rid of him, but I can not have this going on. Any suggestions

    Reply
  35. T   October 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm  

    So I hate cats and live with two. I don’t understand how everyone can just be ok with cats who walk around in their litter box and then climb all over everything. I have found poo nuggets all over the house and poo smears on doors. Including where I cook food or where I get clean. Asolutely nothing is more disgusting to me. I do not want the cats on my couch, my table, my counters, anywhere. They have a cat tree and they still claw the carpets, jump on furniture and don’t listen or care. They also jump up on the counter and eat my food.

    I don’t want to turn my house into a mini cat playground just so I can be comfortable. So no, I don’t want cat shelves everywhere or cat tunnels or whatever.

    I understand that a lot of the problem is that I don’t like cats and think they are giant disgusting rats. But has anyone had any success getting over hating cats? I don’t even want to touch them I think they are so gross.

    Reply
  36. Linda Hansen   October 27, 2013 at 5:16 am  

    The only thing that bothers me about my cats on the counter is part of the counter is my electric stove and how long it takes burners to cool down after cooking. I’m always worried about them jumping up there on a hot burner if I just finished cooking something and turn my back. I will leave the pot or pan on the burner with a lid on hoping to deter them from jumping up there thinking they might be able to get food. I will even use one of those large aluminum foil roasting pans to cover up hot burners. I had hamburgers cooking in a skillet on the stove and had to leave the room for a minute, came back to find one of my cats standing next to it, pressing her paw on top of a hamburger and then licking her paw. This is what bothers me about counter surfing. It can be dangerous. I take great care to unplug toasters and other appliances on counters, keeping sharp knives off the counters and out of sinks, etc. I still worry about it though because in the real world people aren’t perfect and I’m always afraid one of these days I’m going to forget something.

    Reply
    1. LMG   January 28, 2014 at 3:10 pm  

      My one cat’s first attempt at jumping on the counter (that I saw) he ran over and jumped right on the electric stove top, which was ever much still on.

      Now what I mean by “jumped right on” is the moment the one corner of his one toe touched the hot burner he was able to immediately re-direct his body to the floor. He had a bad burn on that paw, but with a little TLC it was fine in no time.

      He will still jump on the counter, but is more particular as to “where”. After I moved to a new home, I simply picked him up and showed him where the danger and safe spots are and hasn’t made the mistake since.

      Reply
  37. Linda Hansen   October 27, 2013 at 5:23 am  

    Forgot to mention – I’ve tried those canned compressed air deterrents in the past for cats and had nothing but problems with them. I stopped using them several years ago. They were nice when they worked but that wasn’t for long. One of my cats eventually would just knock it over and go right past it. It might be worth the cost if they worked. Most pet stores around here stopped selling them because there were so many problems. This was about 7 years ago, but I’m afraid to take another chance.

    Reply
  38. Ruby   December 6, 2013 at 8:44 pm  

    I have tried the air can thing, I have tried everything I have read online to deter cats from getting into things they shouldn’t. I wish he gave some other options. I have 3 cats, 2 of which are brothers under a year, one is really good, he learns. The other has me at my wits end. We have had to take down the christmas tree, so there wont be one for the holidays because he breaks all the ornaments and tries to eat the glass, chews on the cords, gets on the counters and pushes things off, breaking them. I have never had a cat so destructive and I am literally a ball of frustration, anger and tears because of him.

    He has tons of toys, a condo to sit on, a sibling to play with, I can’t think of anything else I can do. It’s breaking my heart because I am not an angry person, but I am yelling all the time, I’m afraid constantly the he’s going to die from eating glass or electrocuted, and I feel like a horrible human being because for the first time in my entire life I have though about taking an animal back to the humane society. I went for 1 and got 2 because I couldnt bear the thought of the 2 boys being separated. I don’t know what to do anymore, I love him, but am also starting to hate him.

    Reply
    1. LMG   January 28, 2014 at 3:23 pm  

      I have a cat that is a chewer of cords etc. I found little dog chew sticks helps …sometimes… but what she LOVES is corrugated cardboard. Loves to chew right through it. And also sit in teh box.

      She also LOVEs to attack full paper towel and toilet paper rolls. I don’t offer them to her much as it is messy, but sooo adorable watching her inner drive come out when she “kills” it. It has helped tone down her urges to eat things she shouldn’t. Age has helped as well.

      When we first got her and her brother they were under a year. They would scratch things they shouldn’t and climb shelves with breakables instead of their huge to-the-roof cat tree. Took some patience and some time but whenever I caught either of them doing something they shouldn’t, instead of yelling (“why is this naked bear yelling at me?” the cat thinks) I would show them the alternative that they CAN do… basically bringing them over to the cat tree and then showing affection.

      So I guess what I am saying for both the chewing and climbing and wreaking problems, when they do it, redirect them to something very simular that they are allowed to do. After a while, the old things like cords and christmas trees won’t interest them much more.

      Reply
  39. Nicole   January 23, 2014 at 6:28 pm  

    Right now I am having issues with my 5-month-old kitten and his food obsession. Whenever I am cooking, eating, or doing dishes, he is immediately on the counter or table, trying to eat whatever he can. He is the least picky cat I have ever encountered and is very food motivated (even though he is definitely fed adequately twice a day with high quality food). Most times we have to put him in a separate room if we are cooking or eating. However, I would eventually like to have him able to be in the same room since we live in a small apartment and sometimes he has to be isolated for some time when guests (with food) are around. I will admit that the only thing that has worked so far is a spray bottle, though I don’t like the idea of it at all. I have also tried training him with treats to jump up and down from surfaces. This works when I have the treats around. But when there is something more enticing being prepared, he is not responsive. Any ideas?

    Reply
  40. Shelli Holleran   February 13, 2014 at 7:03 am  

    I have 3 kitties. One Female Hymalayan and 2 Male Maine Coons. My Maine Coon Amadeus loves to jump on the counters and several other places. We have 2 cat trees which they love and other purches as well. They have several toys and are spoiled rotten! ( and… I wouldn’t have it any other way. )

    It is not the germs that bother me at all. I am afraid of him getting hurt. Burn’t on a candle, tipping over a glass…breaking it and getting glass in his or the other kitties paws. Most scary of all is getting burnt on the stove. He walks across the glass top stove all the time. After a burner has been turned of it takes a while to cool.

    He also likes to walk across the inside stair balcony railing like a tight rope. The other night I was downstairs in our Foyer and he was walking across it and fell 20 feet onto the hard tile. I was devistated. He was ok but I am so afraid he is goig to hurt himself.

    I love my babies so much and I am not sure what to do. I will not yell at them or use a quirt bottle! I feel that is mean and will make them afraid of me.

    Need advise.

    Reply
  41. txstack   February 17, 2014 at 8:39 pm  

    We have 4 indoor cats, 2 of which are very bold about getting food off the counter when ever my back is turned. One had a raw steak in his mouth last week!! Between the paper shredding one does, hairball cleanups, overshooting the litterboxes, I’m choosing to deal with the counter surfing. I’m going to try a solution recommend by someone above – placing cereal sized boxes on edge on my counters daily to create a barrier. Hope it will work. I had one cat who did burn a paw on the hot stove years ago, so now I place a large lid on top of the heating element once it’s turned off, until it cools down. I’ve tried squirting them with water but they just laugh at me. I do love my kitties, and hope this works!!

    Reply
  42. Emily   October 10, 2014 at 4:19 am  

    Our cats Boo and Sunny love to jump up on the counters, however I think it is because they are constantly on the search for more food, in particular Boo. At the moment, with my boyfriend being the primary breadwinner and I’m currently unemployed, we have limited financial means to get the cats all the “good things” that they need. I have been trying to go more organic/all natural with them, but it is a step-by-step/paycheck-by-paycheck process. Lately, I’ve noticed that Boo, in particular, constantly is a glutton for more food. We do feed him, at least, twice a day (it is all we can afford most of the time – although on rare occasions we give them more than 2 servings a day) and they have water to drink. But that is never enough for Boo, and he will go out of his way to jump up on not just the countertops but also on the table and he will try to go after you own food and I’ve caught him rooting around in our garbage. Until we are able to afford giving them raw meat a day, we are stuck with giving them either dry cat food or sometimes canned tuna (in water). I wonder if Boo and Sunny’s problems are related to not having that kind of food OR if Boo is just a gluttonous pig. It really stresses me out and I don’t know what to do about the situation.

    Reply
  43. Tammy   October 13, 2014 at 11:22 am  

    I have a cat who is constantly on the counter whenever any food is out. If I even put grocery bags on the counter, he jumps up. I have removed him from the counter non-stop and used water bottles, but his desire to find food exceeds any concerns about what will happen if he gets on the counter. Luckily I am able to put him in the room that I used for him when he was first integrating into the household. There is water and a litterbox in it and when I want to cook, I put him in the room. He was starved as a kitten and very food motivated, so I don’t see him really changing his little scavenging ways.

    Reply

We regret that Jackson does not answer questions posted in the comments. This is due to his demanding schedule and the high volume of requests he receives. But most importantly, since he has not met your cat, it would be contrary to his approach for him to give specific personalized advice for your specific situation. That being said, general questions and issues are addressed throughout this blog, in his book Cat Daddy and of course, the show My Cat From Hell.

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