By Arden Moore, a certified dog and cat behaviorist with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Arden is an author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.
Is the ‘honeymoon’ over now that the cuddly, tiny kitten you adopted is evolving into a fast-growing mobile mischief maker? Welcome to what I call the Wonder Year – that first year of a feline’s life in which you wonder if you can maintain your sanity as your kitten investigates his world (your home) seemingly 24-7.
You have my sympathy – and solutions to address this far-too common kitty misbehavior: prancing on kitchen countertops and dining room tables.
Like many of you, I share my home with a young feline who wakes up from cat naps ready to take on new heights and discover new places inside my home. I adopted Casey, now a 10-month-old orange striped-tabby, five months ago from the San Diego Humane Society. His then-sweet demeanor has evolved into a confident, outgoing mannerism that I am constantly channeling into desired behavior.
In order to modify your kitten’s behavior, you need to first understand what’s going on in his young mind. Let’s start with why many kittens insist on leaping up on countertops, usually right before a special meal and in full view of your startled dinner guests. And why your kitten sees no problem in leaping up on the dining room table to share your bowl of cereal.
Why Cats Like Countertops
Cats like perching on high places. They enjoy being able to survey their surroundings from an elevated spot, which explains why some cats hang out on the top of refrigerators or even balance on the top of doors that are ajar. They also like to investigate tempting smells, which is why they conduct patrols multi-times a day on your kitchen counters and hope you will share milk from your cereal bowl during breakfast.
Here are Some Savvy Solutions
1. Cookie Sheets
To break your cat of the habit of leaping on the dining room table or kitchen counters, you need to temporarily make those surfaces anything but feline friendly. Stop your stubborn countertop climber by placing cookie sheets on your table or counter. Add water to these sheets. Then the next time your cat leaps up, SPLASH! Her paws land in this unexpected lake.
2. Double-Sided Tape
Instead of the cookie sheets filled with water, another option is to place double-sided tape on the surfaces. Cats rely on their feet to mark their territories, so they like to keep them impeccably clean. When a cat jumps on a sticky-coated counter, it will become an unwelcome surface quickly to her.
These feline “booby trap” strategies work 24-hours a day, even when you are away from home. The best part: your cat won’t “blame” you when it lands on the tape or pan of water. The countertop will lose its feline real estate value.
3. Put Your Cat in Another Room
As for keeping your kitten off your dining room table, simply usher him into a cat-safe room with a treat-filled ball he can swat to release kibbles. Close the door and enjoy your meal in peace.
Parting tip: Couple these tactics by re-directing your cat to a more acceptable perch, like a sturdy cat tree or wide shelves in your living room that are arranging in a step pattern and feature carpet remnants for your cat to hone her claws as she leaps from one shelf to the next. My kitten, Casey enjoys a tall cat tree in my bedroom, a medium-sized scratching post with two circular levels in my office and a medium-sized cat tree in my living room so he can survey his surroundings from an elevated viewpoint.
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