Jumping Cat
August 2, 2008 7:33 AM   Subscribe

My 2 year old cat has recently started jumping on the kitchen counters and the kitchen table while I am asleep. I am looking for tips to get him to stop. See details below...thanks!

I believe this started two weeks ago when I was out of town for 2 days. I had someone come to the house to play with him and feed him, but I think he got a little bored and did this when no one was here. (I don't typically board him if I go out of town b/c he hates leaving the house and he also hates other cats.)

Since I've been back his activity level has been normal, just now when I wake up in the morning I'll find the soap dispenser at the kitchen sink knocked over, or something on the kitchen table knocked over. It seems he learned while I was away that these were fun places to jump up on when no one is around, and he's kept at it. I don't leave food out, so that's not the issue. He's just always been very good about where he can jump...the sofa is ok, the kitchen table where people eat is not...but since he's doing these things while I'm asleep, I don't know how to teach him that this is not ok even when no one is around to say "no." He wouldn't dare do it when I'm awake.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
posted by kathleenl to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You can try to make them inhospitable. Cover them in wet towels or something else that he does not like.
posted by caddis at 7:45 AM on August 2, 2008

Sheets of aluminum foil or newspaper spread across the surfaces sometimes deters cats from jumping up. But only sometimes. And it gets to be a huge pain to cover all your countertops and tables with paper or foil every single night. Plus, you aren't really teaching him anything. You're merely delaying him.

Cats have the advantage of being perfectly happy with waiting you out, until you get fed-up with covering the countertop. You'll miss doing it for a night and the cat will be right back up there.

Fwiw, the cat is probably getting up there because something intrigues him. A window. A dripping faucet. Maybe he's discovered the countertop is a route to the top of the fridge?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:59 AM on August 2, 2008

As an owner of two cats I realise what I'm about to say may be the definition of the triumph of hope over experience... but what does the cat like doing? I managed to distract these cats for a whole month by rounding up their toys and putting them in a basket, so at nights they spend their time removing them and scattering them about. It worked for a while... before the cat mario racing down the stair case began once again.
posted by Augenblick at 8:26 AM on August 2, 2008

How about a water pistol? It sounds cruel, but it's effective. If you wanted to be more overtly aggressive, you could also use a rolled up newspaper and bang it on the table. If you think that's too violent, think about how cats think - this is a territorial issue.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:43 AM on August 2, 2008

A spray water bottle works well for me to train our two cats. When you realize your cat is on the counter, try grabbing a bottle, run to your cat on the counter, and spray.

I keep a bottle by my bedside and after spraying on a few/several occasions, shaking of the bottle may lead my cats to stop an activity I dislike.

Eventually he should associate his action (jumping on the counters) with the spraying, which he will dislike.

The other suggestions are also really good: what is attracting your cat? I found I have to water plants in a sink and leave them there for several hours before I can place them back on the counters, rather than water the plants on the counters because of our cats' attraction to water.
posted by quam at 8:52 AM on August 2, 2008

Response by poster: These are all great suggestions...but my problem with say, the water bottle, is carrying it out. Most of this behavior he does while I am sleeping, so I'm not up to spray at him. He doesn't do any of this while I'm awake.
posted by kathleenl at 9:27 AM on August 2, 2008

I've recently discovered that feeding my cat right before I go to bed keeps him from becoming overly active at night. Of course, this has required that I readjust his entire eating schedule, but I no longer wake up to things knocked over.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:53 AM on August 2, 2008

Booby-trapping the counters with Snappy Trainers might work. They make a scary noise, but don't actually hurt your cat.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 9:55 AM on August 2, 2008

Many cats detest the smell of lavender. Leave some out on the areas he's jumping on and see if this dissuades him.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:09 AM on August 2, 2008

The only thing that's ever kept my cat off places she shouldn't be is sticky stuff. She loves aluminum foil, but hates sticky on her paws. Double sided tape or special removable two-sided sticky anti-cat strips do the trick. Since it's your counter, maybe put the tape on pieces of cardboard that you can lay on the counter at night and remove in the morning. Make sure the strips are close enough together he can't just walk around or between them.
posted by mostlymartha at 10:15 AM on August 2, 2008

The spraybottle won't work. I used to try it with my cats. They just learned if they were on the table and I came around to run, but if I wasn't around then it was a kitty sun bathing hotspot.
posted by gus at 10:17 AM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I had a cat that could not resist the dripping tap and/or water sitting in dishes in the sink.

After trying many tricks (aluminum foil, smelly things), I used a light dusting of cayenne pepper before bed, and wiped it up with a wet paper towel in the AM.

Cat still jumped up, but later when licking her paws, she learned a lesson. It took about a week. After that the pepper was not needed anymore.
posted by rokusan at 10:35 AM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I second the double-sided tape. Cats hate it when their paws stick to something. And it will be a good deterrent whether you are there or not. It might take several days or weeks, but eventually he'll make the association and stop.
posted by whiskeyspider at 10:54 AM on August 2, 2008

Cats have the advantage of being perfectly happy with waiting you out, until you get fed-up with covering the countertop. You'll miss doing it for a night and the cat will be right back up there.
They also sometimes enjoy a challenge and like to play the "I can keep doing this longer than you can keep trying to stop me" game. The late, great Sparky seemed to instinctively know where he wasn't wanted and made it a point to go there, usually while looking my Mom right in the eye if possible. For example, Mom didn't want Sparky on the kitchen table and after several other unsuccessful deterrent measures eventually came up with this elaborate plan of placing pans of water along the perimeter of the table. Young Sparky, only five months old, blithely leapt straight from the floor over the wide barrier of water traps and directly onto the center of the table. He then didn't really do anything, other than to sit and give Mom a look that said "Your pitiful barriers amuse me."

So my advice is to entertain the possibility of never discouraging your kitty from jumping on the counter, and just keep anything breakable out of his reach.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:18 AM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure there's much you can do, unless you catch them in the act and punish somehow. Your cat obviously knows it's not supposed to jump on the counter, that's why he does it out of your sight.

I've had success punishing my cats for doing something I haven't seen by indicating that what they do is wrong - like hovering the kitty above the kitchen countertop and blowing in his face while saying harsh things to him - even tough I didn't actually see them (even though I have proof they did so). Their guilty little consciences seem to think I'm a bit more omniscient, and it prevents them from doing the bad thing when I'm not around.

The other thing I do is make sure there's nothing on the counter to attract kitty. Cats are easily bored; if there's nothing there to attract him, he'll forget about it.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:28 AM on August 2, 2008

Try and find a cleaner with a smell that your cat doesn't like. A cat I lived with for a while, for example, loved the smell of bleach (weird, I know) and would always jump on the counters if that cleaner was used. When I started using another cleaner (I think it was fantastic), she stayed off of the counters. It's worth a little trial and error - it really works.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:40 AM on August 2, 2008

Why does it matter? Keep tippy breakables off the surfaces and give them a quick spray and wipe before you use them again yourself, and don't worry about it.
posted by zadcat at 12:48 PM on August 2, 2008

So my advice is to entertain the possibility of never discouraging your kitty from jumping on the counter, and just keep anything breakable out of his reach.

Ditto. This is not a war you can win, and on the scale of bad cat behavior it's way, way down. Be grateful that's all he does. (He could, for instance, have taken up shitting in your shoes or puking on your bed to show his displeasure.)
posted by languagehat at 1:33 PM on August 2, 2008

We are currently trying out sscat for the same reason. We bought it at a local pet supply store. Don't know yet if it is working on the cat but it scares the beegees out of me everytime I go in the kitchen. Hey, maybe I should put one in the fridge to keep myself out of there.
posted by tamitang at 7:32 PM on August 2, 2008

Double-sided sticky tape for your counters, and a meditation tape for you. The cats don't live with you. You live with the cats. All surfaces belong to them, and if you can't accept this, get a dog.
posted by desjardins at 11:10 AM on August 4, 2008

Here is another person's solution to the same problem, a motion activated blender.
posted by caddis at 1:05 PM on October 22, 2008

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