Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: November 1, 2022 by Crystal Uys


Cats love to be up high. Whether it’s the top of the cat tree or the top of the refrigerator, cats like to survey their territory from elevated vantage points. This is normal behavior for cats and goes back to their wild origins. Cats are hunters and climbing trees allowed them to lie in wait for prey as well as to escape for safety.

Since this love of heights appears to be hardwired even into domestic cats, it’s not surprising that counters and tables are favorites for cats. Since not all cat owners like their cats to have access to these spaces, it’s important to provide outlets for this natural drive. This will go a long way toward preventing “counter surfers” from jumping on counters and tables.

The following suggestions can help keep cats off counters and tables:

Remove Temptation

Don’t leave food unattended on counters. Put leftovers away and rinse dishes and put them into the dishwasher, rather than leaving them on the counter or in the sink.

Double Sided Tape

Apply double-sided sticky tape to the edges of counters. Cats don’t like the feeling of the tape on their paws, and will usually be discouraged after one or two tries. You may have to keep reapplying the tape, and the sticky residue may be hard to remove from counter tops.

Aluminum Foil

Tape a strip of aluminum foil to the edge of the counter. Cats dislike both the feel of it on their paws as well as the sound the foil makes.

Don’t use spray bottles as a deterrent. Spray bottles only teach the cat to be afraid of the person using it, and can damage the bond between cat and owner. This can be especially damaging if a cat is skittish or has a history of abuse.

Mechanical Deterrents

Mechanical devices like the SSSCAT (affiliate link*) deliver a blast of compressed air and/or a loud sound when the device senses a cat approaching. Unlike squirt bottles, which should never be used to train cats because they damage the bond between cat and owner (see “Watch Out,”) the cat won’t associate this “punishment” with the owner.

Provide Alternatives

Most importantly, provide vertical space alternatives to counters and tables for your cat. A small cat tree, about the same height or slightly higher than the counter, placed strategically in an area where the cat has a full view of the territory surrounding it, can stop counter surfing completely. Train your cat to use the cat furniture by using reward based treat training.

By understanding why cats like to be in high places, and working with their natural instincts, you can prevent them from jumping up on counters and tables and keep everyone in the household happy.

This article was originally published on and is republished with permission.

*FTC Disclosure: The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.

About the author

16 Comments on How to Keep Cats Off Counters

  1. Agatha (3 yr old female, very social, friendly, verbal) jumps on our glass top stove & counters at night while we’re sleeping. I tried the squirt bottle in daytime when I catch her, but I don’t like it. I’m afraid this will confuse her & damage our bond; she is a lap cat & very sweet & affectionate. How can we keep her off the stove/counter at night?

  2. This is SO great, Ingrid! Katie has always stayed away, but Waffles is a terrorist and he’s starting to become a bad influence on Katie. : )

    I’m going to try the tape and the foil for sure…and I’ll see if I can rearrange some cat furniture too.

    thank you so much for this!

    • Hi GG,
      I mentioned a product called Sticky Paws that worked well for keeping my Orange Twins off the kitchen table to Caren. You might want to check it out too. Take care and safe travel.

    • Let me know how the tape or foil works with Waffles. I’m guessing it will make for a good post or two on your site… 🙂

      • We sure will, Ingrid! We’re going to try both the sticky paws stuff and the aluminum foil.
        I already know that Katie shares NO love for Reynolds Wrap. 😉

  3. Thanks for a great post and tips! Although my own cats are allowed on counters because of the dogs (They are loved and adored by two Rottweilers and a Collie), I know many people do not want to share their counters with their feline friends. I especially appreciate the fact that you bring up the squirt bottle. Like dominance theory in dogs, I wish the squirt bottle would die out already!

  4. Ingrid I just read those tips and they are great, but….I think Cody can jump PAST aluminum foil, that being said, I may try it. Cody is one sly guy. He KNOWS he is NOT permitted on the kitchen counter so he waits until we are all in bed (at least he THINKS we are all in bed), I have walked out and caught him jumping down when he heard me.
    He is smart, he KNOWS he isn’t supposed to be there but Cody’s life is one never-ending quest for more food so he will go to extreme measures to find it xoxo

    • Hi Caren,
      We used a product called Sticky Paws to keep the guys off the kitchen table. It comes in long rolls, about 3 inches wide and in large sheets, about 9′ x 13′, I think. First we purchased it at Petsmart, but then I found had better prices and selection. I hope this information helps. Best of Luck,

  5. The only counter I do not like Piper to be on, is the closest to the stove.
    She can still be a rebel and jump on it, but if I use a sharp firm voice she will get
    down. I have used double sided tape and this is the advice I often give people when
    they ask me.

    There really are no limits in my house. Most people are surprsied when I say I only
    have one cat because I am the Feline Director for a rescue. I tell them that my
    landlord only allows one cat! However she rules the roost and I am her humble
    servant. This is a cat friendly environment. The kitty condo is the center piece of the
    apartment and there is plenty of enrichment so the kitchen counter is a rare issue.

    • It may be easier, but it’s not effective, and it can damage the bond between cat and human:

  6. Counters in the kitchen are off limits here if someone’s around to say “get down!”, otherwise cats rule. As for the rest of the house, most of it’s been made cat friendly either by design or by cats insisting. Once we had any number of vases and other knick-knacks on top of entertainment centers and bookcases. Now, we have pillows and cozy blankets placed in most high places. The cats look very nice up there. It’s interesting how kids and pets can cause an entire shift in how you, or at least I, view my surroundings. There was a time fluffed pillows and art objects had to be just so. Now, seeing a kitty curl up there or a child intent on his tablet are all the art I could ever want.

  7. We have double-sided tape on the carpet outside the bathroom door. Scooter and Alice don’t jump up on the counters here, so that’s not a problem. They do have a huge need to get into the bathroom, though, and double sided tape works well. Counters aren’t really off limits here, either, but they just aren’t interested.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *