How Not to Teach Your Cat to Stay Off the Counters.

Ruby on Window Sill1
Cat in repose. On the window sill that requires the cat to walk across the kitchen counters to get to it.


Contrary to popular belief,  veterinarians are not animal trainers. I know we’re expected to be masters of all things animal, but like all professions, we have our strengths and weaknesses. I can diagnose and treat the myriad diseases and maladies that my patients suffer from with the best of them. Just don’t ask me to teach your dog to do much more than “sit”.

If you happen upon me walking my dogs in the neighborhood, look away and cover your ears. Otherwise, your senses will be overwhelmed with the vision of Mia ferociously growling and barking her head off, lunging at the end of her leash, while Nixon bounces up and down shrieking like she’s being skinned alive (she makes this sound when she’s super excited). We’re a walking cacophony of pandemonium. Needless to say, I don’t walk the dogs together often, unless I just need to laugh; because, under those circumstances, that’s all I can do.

The cats are proving to be a training challenge as well. Pre-cat I recommended spraying the cats with water to keep them off the counters and tables. I have several spray bottles around the house. For months now, I squirt the cats multiple times per day. Sometimes the mere sight of the bottle gets them to flee from whatever mischief they are up to. Other times, I have to douse them repeatedly, from point blank range, and they just look at me with insolent disgust and they saunter away with an air of “yeah, I meant to do that”.

Sunday we like to make a big breakfast. In the time that it took for us to eat our cinnamon brioche French toast and bacon (we make great breakfasts), the cat got on the kitchen counter and had his way with our paper towels.

Cat vs. Paper Towels

I decided that it was time to take Operation Cats Off the Counter to a new level. I needed to bring out the big gun: Scotch tape. A client told me this works great. Cat hops on the counter, en-counters (ha ha, pun intended!) the tape, is disgusted and never hops up there again. Yay! Totally worth it to avoid cat butts on my food prep surfaces!

I waited ’til we got breakfast cleaned up and proceeded to place upside down tape strips all over the counter. I was surprised at the amount of tape it took. Good thing I had a years old, dusty multipack of tape rolls in the back of a cabinet. (Nothing worse than running out of tape in the middle of gift wrapping! Just kidding, there are lots of things worse. It was an impulse buy from Costco.)

I kept a close watch on the kitchen from a safe distance so I could immediately intervene should a tape cat-astrophe  (OMG, another pun! I’m on a roll!) occur.

Somehow, using their feline super powers, the cats avoided the tape all day long.

Finally, just as I was about to give up and remove the tape in order to make dinner, the cats took interest. They stood on the trash can next to the counter to investigate and decided that the tape was delicious. They proceeded to munch on said tape, while I took pictures in disgust.

Branch: Hey! What’s this sticky stuff?!
Ruby: I don’t know, but I bet it’s delicious!

I hoped that they would at least hop on the counter and get tangled up, then flee in despair, never to touch a countertop again. Ruby did end up covered in tape, but she just sat down quizzically on the counter and pondered her sticky predicament.

Branch: Hey Ruby, I dare you to go up there and sit on that stuff to see what happens! Ruby: OK!

Operation Scotch tape was an epic failure.

So does anyone have any other suggestions to keep cat butts off my counter?


2 thoughts on “How Not to Teach Your Cat to Stay Off the Counters.

  1. Have you considered putting a few coins in a plastic bottle, then stalking the cat(s)? When they get on the counter shake the bottle and scare the c**p out of them. It may take a few tries, but I hear it works. (Quite honestly, I don’t worry much about it because I know they’ll get up there and dance when I’m not home.)

    I hear they don’t like double sided tape, but that didn’t work for my sofa. They just wadded it up and played with it. I also hear they don’t like tin foil.

    I think I’d try the tin foil first.

    Also you might consider moving the trash container so the counter isn’t quite so accessible.

  2. Put on counter lots of empty paper towel rolls and toilet paper centre cardboard rolls. When the cats jump up, they fumble their landing cuz of the rolls, fall to the floor, and the rolls land on them, scaring them but not hurting them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s