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This is a common question asked of cat owners. Most people assume that a stern ‘get down’, or using a spray bottle will stop your cat jumping onto kitchen benches. What is going to happen by doing this is that your cat will learn not to jump up when you are around, but will continue with this behaviour when you’re not home. Which you don’t want.
First things first, ask yourself why your cat is jumping up? What is the cat doing? Stealing food, drinking out of the leaky tap, watching you cook or begging for attention? Cats (like all of us) are reward-based, if there is a benefit to them jumping up, they will continue to do so. Therefore, pet owners must modify the environment so that it is no longer rewarding to jump on the benches, but without being punished by their human. None of us wants to damage the human/cat bond we have.
Many cat owners are happy for their cat to jump onto kitchen benches, but there are good reasons why this practice shouldn’t be allowed.
- Safety: There is the chance that your cat jumps onto the hot stove top either burning himself by direct contact with the hot plates or knocking over a pan with boiling liquids. He may ingest cleaning products you have used in the kitchen such as bleach in the sink.
- Hygiene: Tiny particles of cat urine and faeces will be on the paws from using the litter tray. These will be transferred to the countertop. This may cause no illness in humans but why take the chance? What if your cat has been infected with toxoplasmosis or has a parasitic infection which you are not aware of?
- Food: Many human foods are dangerous, for example, cooked chicken bones, chocolate and onion. Do you really want your feline tucking into Sunday’s roast which is thawing?
Keeping cats off kitchen benches
There are several methods which can be used to discourage this behaviour using what is known as remote punishment. This means the environment is responsible for creating a deterrent to jumping onto the benches, and not you. The focus is to make countertops an unattractive area to cats.
- Don’t leave food lying around. When you are cooking on the stove top, supervise or cover the food with a lid.
- Place some double-sided tape to the edge of your countertop or apply double-sided tape to several tea-towels and place on the bench. Cats dislike the sticky feel of the tape on their paws.
- Place a strip of aluminium foil to the edge of the counter. As with the double-sided tape, cats don’t like the feel of this.
- Fill some empty soft drink bottles with dried beans. Leave close to the edge of the countertop.
- Use cat-scat air spray deterrents. These motion-activated appliances blow out a puff of compressed air when the cat jumps on the bench. Making the spray the bad guy and not you.
Meet the cat halfway
- Provide your cat with a cat water fountain if it likes to drink from a dripping tap.
- Don’t give the cat attention when it is up on the bench.
- If the cat wants to watch you while you cook, provide a cat tree or shelf the cat can sit on and watch.