Cats on the counter (and other undesirable places)

Discussion in 'Working and Companion Animals' started by beorning, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    606
    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Here's a potentially silly question that I'm hoping the only answer to is not "well, they are cats..." but here goes anyway.

    We have two cats who like to crawl all over everything. I'd like to keep them off of the kitchen counters and the birdcage. I've tried various spray on cat repellants that have not worked. Tried tape left sticky side up on off limits surfaces. That one turned into one of the cats new favorite game.

    Anyone have any effective solutions for this sort of problem?
     
  2. Peacock

    Peacock writing some wrongs Supporter

    Messages:
    6,873
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    SW Ohio
    You put noisy things on the surfaces, so that when they jump up on them, they accidentally knock over the noisy things and become traumatized little kitties that won't try that again.

    Alternatively, keep a spray bottle handy and give 'em a blast when you catch them doing something off-limits. This takes way too much effort, though.

    Now, tell me how to keep the cats from scratching up the back of our new loveseat! It's backed up to the rail dividing the living room from the stairway below - bi-level house - and very cat accessible. Help!
     

  3. Corgitails

    Corgitails Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    960
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2003
    Cookie sheets (the kind with sides) filled with water and a sheet of aluminum foil on top. Noisy AND wet. :p

    I also like ScatMats- they're a little bit pricey but they last forever- basically a small electric mat that you put some place you don't want pets (or younger brothers) sleeping/standing/laying/whatnot.
     
  4. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,596
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Location:
    N. Calif./was USDA 9b before global warming
    for soft things like sofas there are motion detecting sound emitters. Sit on the sofa and the alarm goes off. I used that for awhile with my cats. What was really funny was when a friend brought her 3 year old over for awhile, and I told him not to go on the sofa (I think he'd been trampoline jumping on it). He fell asleep and we put him on the guest bed, I reset the alarm for the cat. Next thing you know the alarm goes off because the toddler was on the couch again.

    A combination of alarms, squirt bottles, aluminum foil, and all that--but the things that I found helpful are also to add 'no' (that is, let them know that you are displeased), and then remove them from the room. Basically, a time out. The length of the time out is based on age, just as in kids--one minute for less than a year old, and an additional minute for each additional year. (You probably will never have to do this to a cat older than 3 anyway.) Then you have to catch them walking on the floor without jumping up or looking like they want to, and give them attention.

    Jump on the counter--get removed and time out in a crate or a closet. Stay on the floor, get some lovin'.

    Note the time limits. You want them to get the point--they have to remember the crime/punishment link. Too much punishment and all they remember is their suffering is your fault. Too much time in crate or closet is cruel and abusive. They should know they did wrong but not be driven to dispair. You want the kitty equivalent of 'all right young, man, go to your room', not the child-welfare case in the newspaper about the kid locked in a basement for 5 years. Remember that time travels much more slowly for small animals with shorter lifespans and faster metabolisms; think of a 3 year old child asked to wait 'a whole five minutes!?!' for something to come out of the microwave.

    If they are ready to spring and you say 'no', and they walk off without questioning or trying again, wait a couple of minutes (count them, don't go too soon), then go praise the kitty.

    This assumes your kitty has some basic socialization such that the favor of their human companions is something they care to have.

    You have to be careful that jumping on the counter is not seen as a way to get human attention, which is where the crate or closet comes in. If they're on the counter to get your attention, they're getting exactly opposite of what they wanted--isolation. If they're jumping on the counter to steal food, then the squirt bottle is your best friend (though I'd still do the isolation bit).
     
  5. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,596
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Location:
    N. Calif./was USDA 9b before global warming
    PS: I actually use 'off' instead of 'no' for trespasses. 'No' gets squirted. 'Off' gets picked up and put on the floor the first few times (as a vocabularly lesson), and isolations thereafter once the cat has had adequate time to understand the concept.

    Animals learn by watching others. Once one of your cats gets 'off', the others are far more likely to suddenly understand.

    Obeying 'off' is a 'get out of jail free' card. You can't isolate them for being on the counter if they got off when you told them to.
     
  6. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,596
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Location:
    N. Calif./was USDA 9b before global warming
    Oh, another PS. Cats like to be on the highest available perch. If you cat wants to be on the counter for reasons other than stealing food, build or buy a cat post with a perch that is higher than the countertop, and put it in a room that allows a similar view as the counter. If your cat likes the top of the refrigerator, get a multi-level floor-to-ceiling cat post with a perch higher than the top of the refrigerator. You might also want to buy a heated pet pad for that top perch since for some cats it is the refrigerator's waste heat that is part of the attraction.

    If you don't want the cats on your furniture, it is vital that you get them furniture of their own. When my cat was a kitten, the first week I had him, I started to establish that he wasn't allowed on the chairs, sofa, or my bed. When I'd made this very clear to him, he seemed to droop, walked off a few feet, and catloafed on the floor, putting his nose on the carpet, to sleep, looking very small, alone, and sad.

    "Why is he sleeping in the middle of the floor?" I thought. Then I realized, "because I've forbidden him every other place in the house and he doesn't have a bed!"

    I cry even remembering that realization of how cruel I had been without thinking. I picked him up and cuddled him and let him sleep in my arms, then decided that I'd just have to do two things--let him sleep on my bed, and buy him a bed of his own, which I did within about 2 hours. Eventually I compromised and let him onto the chairs and leather sofa, but not the cloth one. No tables, counters, or refrigerators allowed.

    You cannot take your things away from the kitty unless you give the kitty things of his or her own. They need to live in your house too, not just exist there in poverty. I'm not saying to spoil or dote or shower kitty with toys just because they're not allowed to drink from the kitchen faucet or the toilets. But if your cat is obsessed by running water and your budget allows you might consider getting one of those powered recirculating water-bowls, so they can get their water-play in a socially acceptable manner.

    No, little toddler, you cannot drive the car. But you can turn the wheel and honk the horn on the busy box instead.
     
  7. Ardie/WI

    Ardie/WI Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    15,516
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Put lots of double stick tape on the back of the loveseat! They hate getting it on their pawsies.
     
  8. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    15,981
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Michigan's thumb
    Suburbanite beat me to it. The cats need a perch. You can build attractive ones over the tops of windows. Make it a decorative thing, part of the window dressing. You just want to make sure they have a way of getting up there without using drapes as ladders. You can bait it with bits of food and/or toys. Think of a perch like a crate, everytime the cat goes there, he finds something good.
     
  9. ladycat

    ladycat Chicken Mafioso Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,673
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Location:
    N. TX/ S. OK
    Cookie sheets with a little water in the bottom and a LOT of dishwashing liquid or shampoo. (The water is only enough to make it spread out good all over the bottom of the sheet). Position it in their favorite spot to jump to; use more than one if needed.

    When they jump in it, their feet gets all sticky and nasty-tasting (I assume they think it tastes nasty), and they can't stand it! After a couple times of jumping up and landing in that, they are broken from the habit.

    This is what I used to do, and it worked!!
     
  10. midwsthomestead

    midwsthomestead joy seeker

    Messages:
    1,482
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2005
    Location:
    central Indiana
    Yep, been there n done that lol. We had a cat that was a counter n table HOG! I tried ALOT of the above tricks with her, then I learned that her mother was the best mouser my friend had ever seen....so she went to live outside and actually NEVER tries to get back inside. Not that I'm saying yours have to be booted outside LOL, just commiseratin' ;)

    ~~
     
  11. oberhaslikid

    oberhaslikid Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,521
    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Location:
    Ohio
    I have a polydacktal cat that I keep in the house and she just happen to like the styrophome incubator in the basement and layed on top of it because it was on a table and it was warm. untill I noticed she was using it for a scratching post as well. I tried everything to keep her off. Finally remembered pepper. I sprinkled Black pepper all over the top and the table she hasnt got on it since.
     
  12. 4sarge

    4sarge Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    200
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2005
    Location:
    Sweet Owen County - Indiana
    Spray bottle with water and blast em when you see them doing prohibited behavior. Worked for me :nerd:
     
  13. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,596
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Location:
    N. Calif./was USDA 9b before global warming
    This is even more effective if you catch them just as they're positioning to jump up.

    Don't forget to 'catch' your cats being good and praise them 'for no reason' when they walk past the counter without trying to get on it.