We may be compensated if you purchase through links on our website. Our Reviews Team is committed to delivering honest, objective, and independent reviews on home products and services.More

10 Ways to Keep Your Cat Off the Kitchen Counter

Author Icon Written by Brenda Woods Updated 03/28/2024

Jumping and climbing are in a cat’s nature, so it’s no surprise they enjoy hopping onto kitchen countertops. Though jumping on the counter might seem like a harmless habit, it can have dangerous consequences. Aside from being a nuisance when you’re cooking and cleaning, your cat could get burned on the stove, ingest toxic foods or cleaning chemicals, or track bacteria onto the counter that could make your family sick.

While you can make thoughtful choices to protect your cat, take it a step further by keeping your cat off the counter with these strategies we’ve rounded up.

Check out this video from Chewy focusing on different ways to keep your feline friends off of your kitchen counters:

How To Keep Cats Off Counters: 10 Ways

With a better understanding of why your cat may be jumping on the counter, you can take the proper steps to address the issue. Keeping your cat off the counter is all about redirecting its behavior and pointing it toward safer alternatives.

Put these tried-and-true strategies from our team to work to reroute your cat’s behavior.

Cover Your Counters With Aluminum Foil

Cats can be particular about the textures they walk on, avoiding surfaces that cause sensations they don’t like.

Many pet owners and experts recommend putting aluminum foil on countertops to curb your cat’s counter-hopping enthusiasm. The combination of the noise of crinkled foil and the unpleasant feeling may be enough to keep them off the counter.

Some pet parents prefer to put double-sided tape down, as cats aren’t fond of walking on glue-like textures, either. The main downside of this method is that cleanup can get sticky. Plastic wrap and sandpaper may also be effective—and less messy.

Try Out Different Scents

In addition to disliking certain textures, cats are particular about scents. When used safely, essential oils and cleaners can be a humane deterrent. Scents like peppermint, citrus, lavender, eucalyptus, and lime may make your furry friend think twice before hopping on the counter.

Tip: If you do use essential oils, avoid applying them directly on your cat or in a location where your cat may inadvertently ingest them when licking its paws.

Put Food Away

One of the biggest reasons cats jump on counters is to get food that has been left out. Treats, crumbs, leftovers, or even the scent of cat food can make a cat want to jump on the counter. Dirty dishes in the sink and pots and pans on the stove may lure your cat in, too.

To prevent your cat from chasing the scent of food, seal bagged food tightly, keep dishes washed, and keep your counters clean. If you usually prepare your cat’s food on the counter, you may want to consider a new spot.

Focus on the Faucet

Cats are notorious for drinking from kitchen faucets. They’re instinctively drawn to fresh running water. To curb your cat’s desire to drink from the kitchen sink, try the following:

  • Fix leaks: If your faucet is leaky, the sound can be hard for your cat to ignore. Fix leaks and avoid leaving your faucet running in general.
  • Check out the water bowl: Inspect the area around your cat’s bowl to see if anything could be stressing your cat out, preventing it from drinking comfortably, like being too close to the litter box.
  • Buy a water fountain: Your cat may be less inclined to drink from the sink if it has an alternative source of fresh flowing water. A cat fountain can also help prevent whisker fatigue, which occurs when your cat’s whiskers are overstimulated and agitated from actions like drinking out of a water bowl.
  • Keep water fresh: Refill your cat’s drinking source with fresh water regularly to make it more comparable to water from the faucet. You can also drop in a piece of ice to keep it refreshing and cool.

Move Chairs and Stools

Does your cat use a chair, bar stool, trash can, or other aid to launch itself onto the counter? If your feline friend relies on a piece of furniture for assistance reaching the counter, moving it can be a simple fix. While you shouldn’t have to redecorate your home or go without barstools to keep your cat down, temporarily moving them away from the counter could help break the habit.

Block Out the Sun

If your cat’s primary reason for jumping on the counter is to soak up the sun, closing your blinds or drawing your curtains can make it a less appealing spot. Likewise, if your cat is perching on the counter for a prime view of your bird feeder, consider moving it to a new location.

In either case, you can draw your cat to a more suitable spot near a different window or door to sunbathe and sightsee.

Build a Cat Tower

One of the best ways to keep your kitty off the counter is to provide a fun alternative. For example, a climbing tree, cat tower, or kitty condo can satisfy your feline friend’s desire to climb to high places if you have space for one.

If you don’t have the space or the budget for a cat tree, you can also repurpose an existing piece, such as a bookshelf or sofa table. A little catnip, a comfy blanket, and access to the sun could make your countertop a distant memory.

Try Clicker Training

If you haven’t tried clicker training, it could be just the tool you need for positive reinforcement. Here’s how it works. The next time your cat hops on the counter, place its favorite toy or a treat on the floor. As soon as your cat jumps off the counter to claim its prize, use a clicker device to make a sound.

Your cat should associate the clicking sound with getting a reward and eventually jump off the counter when you click, whether there’s a treat involved or not.

Provide New Toys

Your cat could just be a bit bored. Providing your kitty with toys that stay on ground-level can offer a distraction from the enticing kitchen counters.

Avoid Negative Reinforcements

In general, your cat will respond better to positive reinforcements than to negative ones. So while using a spray bottle, making loud noises, or simply pushing your cat off the counter might seem like easy fixes, these methods can stress your cat out and do more harm than good.

Rather than punishing your cat for climbing on the counter, use some of the strategies above to make the counter less appealing to your cat or kitten and reward it for choosing other areas to lounge and explore.

Cats primarily like to jump on the counter because of its vantage point, appealing aroma, warmth, and proximity to water.
Here’s a little more insight into the draw of the counter:
Height: Cats and kittens like the counter for its vantage point. Cats love jumping to new heights and having an eye-level view of their surroundings and you. Kitchen counters are the perfect height for your four-legged friend to perch.
Scent: Kitchen counters are intoxicating to cats. Fruit ripening in a basket, a dirty plate in the sink, or a missed scrap of chicken on the edge of the counter from last night’s dinner will draw your cat to the counter for a bite.
Warmth: In many homes, the kitchen counter is situated under a windowsill and gives your pet the perfect opportunity to sunbathe.
Water: Your cat may also be drawn to the kitchen counter by your faucet. Fresh running water can be hard to resist, especially if your sink has a leak and tends to drip.

Our Recommendation

It’s in your cat’s nature to jump and climb, so breaking the counter-hopping habit can be a challenge. However, you can keep your countertops kitten-free with some patience, persistence, and pleasing alternatives for your cat to explore.

FAQ About Keeping Your Cat Off the Counter

Why do cats jump on counters?

Cats like to jump on kitchen counters because of the vantage point, appealing aromas, warmth from the sun, and proximity to water from the tap. They may also be seeking to get away from other pets or from small humans.

u003cbru003eShould I use positive or negative reinforcement to keep cats off counters?

Your cat will likely respond better to positive reinforcements than to negative ones, so using a spray bottle, making loud noises, or pushing your cat off the counter should be avoided. These options might seem like easy fixes, but they can stress your cat out and do more harm than good.

How do I stop my cat from climbing on the kitchen surface?