by Nomi Berger
Do curiosity and counter cruising go paw in paw in your household?
Whether your cat climber’s intent is to forage for forgotten food or find the finest view of the kitchen, this may be one habit you’d be happy to break.
If so, begin by determining the reason or reasons behind her fondness for prowling your counter tops in the first place. Is it because desirable items, like food, are readily accessible to her? The counter provides a pathway to a particularly enticing spot such as a window ledge? There’s fresh running or dripping water in the sink? She’s bored and eager for adventure? Or she simply enjoys gazing down on her kitty cat world from “on high.”
Whatever the reason, in order to curb your kitty’s curiosity and combat her climbing, keep your counters cleared of all temptation. This means returning china and glasses to cabinets and foodstuffs to their proper places, cleaning the counters of crumbs, and removing all toys and anything remotely resembling a toy – from elastics and strings to paper clips and paper bags.
Add a tall cat condo or cat tree to satisfy her craving for height and place it close to her favorite window for easy access and enjoyable viewing. Or create an entirely new favorite place for her to perch by placing a bird feeder outside an easily accessible window.
Repair any leaky sink faucets, thereby eliminating the allure of dripping water that’s all too available by way of the counter top. Or provide your kitty with a specially designed fountain – on the floor – that offers her a continuous stream of clean, refreshing water instead.
If a nearby chair is aiding and abetting your kitty’s acrobatic leaps, remove it.
Counter cruising is often a “meow” for attention from a kitty who’s bored and in need of stimulation. If this sounds familiar, play more often and more interactively with your kitty to satisfy this need, burn off that extra energy, and happily tire her out.
Since cats dislike sticky surfaces, put double-sided tape on one side of several inexpensive plastic place mats and line the counter with them. Then, should your cat jump onto the counter, the discomfort will, in all likelihood, cause her to jump off again.
Most importantly, reward your kitty for any positive behavior on her part. If, e.g., she jumps onto the cat tree instead of onto the counter, praise her verbally, with extra pets, and the occasional high value treat. It’s a well-known fact that animals repeat what benefits them most.
Conversely, never punish your cat. She can’t make the connection between the punishment and the behavior that prompted it. Verbal and/or physical punishment will only make her fear you and may even cause her to act out. Nor do such deterrents as the use of spray bottles work. Not only do YOU become associated with a highly unpleasant sensation but she may continue her unwanted behavior when you’re not around.
Remember, as with any behavioral modification plan, consistency – and patience — is key to a successful outcome.