How To Stop Cats Climbing On Kitchen Surfaces

Understand Why Cats Climb

Cats have natural instincts to climb and jump on elevated surfaces as part of exploring their territory and hunting for prey ( Countertops and other furniture allow them to survey their surroundings from an elevated vantage point. Climbing also provides physical and mental stimulation for cats.

However, kitchen counters present hazards from hot stoves, knives, and other dangerous items. So it’s best to limit cats’ access while still providing acceptable climbing areas elsewhere.

Provide Allowed Surfaces

One of the best ways to keep cats from climbing where they shouldn’t is to provide them with places they are allowed to climb. Giving your cat approved surfaces to satisfy their natural instinct to climb can help redirect them away from kitchen counters and other forbidden areas. Consider getting a cat tree, perches, shelves, or other cat furniture specifically designed for climbing and scratching.

Cat trees come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles to fit your home. Look for tall, multi-level trees with sisal-wrapped posts, carpeted platforms, and dangling toys to entice your cat to climb and play on them rather than kitchen surfaces. Place the tree in an area your cat frequents and make sure it’s tall enough for them to fully stretch and scratch. The Spruce Pets recommends the Catit Vesper High Base cat tree for its stylish wooden platforms and easily replaceable parts.

Another option is wall-mounted cat shelves or steps placed strategically around your home. Position a cat shelf near the kitchen to provide an approved spot to perch within pawing distance. Shelves like the Catastrophic Creations Wall Flower collection add modern style while giving cats a place to climb.

Giving your cat suitable surfaces to climb and play on can provide an appealing alternative to kitchen counters and tables. Try different cat furniture and perches to find options your cat prefers.

Use Deterrent Sprays

Deterrent sprays that contain citrus or mint oils can be effective for keeping cats off kitchen surfaces. The strong smells are unpleasant to a cat’s sensitive nose. Diluted lemon or orange juice can be sprayed directly onto counters, or you can find premixed sprays containing citrus oils.

Mint-scented sprays are another option, but avoid using undiluted peppermint oil as it can be toxic to cats in large amounts. Seek out cat-safe mint sprays. Test any spray in an inconspicuous area first to check for staining or damage to surfaces.

When using scent deterrents, reapply them frequently as the smells can fade. Be cautious of toxicity and always follow label directions. Start with small amounts and monitor your cat’s reaction.

Use Aluminum Foil

One easy deterrent you can try is aluminum foil. Place sheets of aluminum foil on the kitchen surfaces you want to keep your cat off. The texture and sound of the foil is unpleasant to cats and will deter them from jumping up.

When a cat steps on aluminum foil, it crinkles loudly under their paws. This crinkling sound is very high-pitched, reaching into the ultrasonic range that cats can hear but humans can’t. The loud, strange crinkling noise startles cats and deters them from stepping on it again (Source).

The foil is also smooth and slippery, unlike the textures cats are used to walking on. When they try to walk across it, their paws slide around instead of gaining purchase. They find this uncomfortable and unnatural. The combination of the odd sound and texture quickly teaches cats to avoid aluminum foil surfaces.

Apply Double-Sided Tape

One effective deterrent is to apply double-sided tape sticky-side up to surfaces you want cats to avoid. As described in How To Keep Cats Off Kitchen Counters: 10 Effective Tips, cats dislike the sticky feeling on their paws and will avoid walking where it is applied. The discomfort deters cats from jumping up. Replace the tape every few days to maintain its effectiveness. It’s an easy, humane way to keep cats off counters.

Use Motion Detectors

Motion-activated cat deterrent devices can detect when a cat enters an area and respond with sounds or blasts of air to startle them and deter them from that space. These devices provide an automated solution to keeping cats off kitchen surfaces.

Some popular motion-activated deterrents include the PetSafe SSSCAT Spray Pet Deterrent, which detects motion up to 3 feet away and emits a quick burst of compressed air. There is also the Hoont Ultrasonic Cat Deterrent, which uses both ultrasonic and motion activation to deter cats.

These devices can be placed strategically on kitchen counters, tables, and other surfaces you want to keep cats off of. Whenever the cat’s movement triggers the sensor, they receive a harmless but startling deterrent. With consistent use, cats learn to avoid the areas protected by motion detectors.

Block Access

One of the most effective ways to keep cats off kitchen surfaces is to physically block their access. This removes the temptation by making it impossible for them to jump up. Some options to block access include:

  • Putting cardboard boxes or other barriers along the edges of counters
  • Covering counters with plastic, plexiglass or contact paper when not in use
  • Placing scat mats on counters, which give a mild static shock when stepped on
  • Using motion-activated devices that emit an ultrasonic tone or puff of air when triggered

The key is making counters inaccessible so cats don’t have the opportunity to jump up. It may take some experimentation to find barriers your cat won’t try to circumvent. Be sure to monitor their behavior and adjust as needed. Blocking access removes the temptation completely versus trying to teach them not to jump up.

Consider Pheromones

One way to help deter cats from climbing on kitchen surfaces is to use synthetic feline pheromones. Brands like Feliway make products that mimic natural cat pheromones and create a calming effect. Feliway offers diffusers that steadily release pheromones to relax cats and curb unwanted behaviors like surface climbing. They also have sprays that can be applied directly to problem areas. A study by Feliway found the pheromones reduced climbing on kitchen counters by 50% after 4 weeks of use.

While not all cats respond to synthetic pheromones, they are a safe and drug-free way to try and modify undesirable climbing habits. The pheromones should not be smelled by humans and work passively in the background. Products like the Feliway Classic Diffuser provide 30 days of continuous pheromone release and are easy to use at home. Vets may even recommend pheromones to help cats adjust to changes and prevent misbehaviors.


Train Your Cat

Cats can be trained to stay off kitchen counters through positive reinforcement techniques like clicker training. When you catch your cat on the counter, calmly remove them and place them on the floor without giving any attention. Then wait about 60 seconds before engaging them with a toy or treat on an appropriate high perch like a cat tree to meet their instinct to climb and be up high. Reward them with praise and treats for using the allowed area. According to experts, this redirection teaches them the desired behavior of staying off counters. Avoid negative reinforcement like yelling or punishment which can make cats anxious.

Repellent sprays containing citrus or mint scents can also act as mild deterrents when applied to kitchen surfaces. According to The Spruce Pets, cat’s don’t like these strong smells and will learn to avoid areas where repellents are applied. Use them along with positive reinforcement training.

Be Consistent

The most important part of training your cat to stay off kitchen surfaces is consistently reinforcing the boundaries. It takes time and effort to break an established behavior pattern. Be prepared to stick with the training techniques for days or weeks until your cat learns that the counter and table are off limits. This may involve multiple training sessions per day of removing them from the surfaces, using deterrents, and rewarding appropriate behavior.

Don’t let up on the training even if you don’t catch them in the act every time. Continue applying deterrent sprays and foils so the counter never becomes an appealing option. Reward them frequently with treats and praise for using their cat tree or scratching post instead. With diligent training, most cats will eventually learn that the kitchen surfaces are not for them. But you have to remain just as consistent as your cat until the new behavior sinks in.

According to experts, it takes at least 30 days to break a habit. Be patient and persistent, even when you feel like giving up. Proper training takes time, but the effort will be worth it for a cat who respects the kitchen counters. Stick to the plan and be consistent, and your cat will learn where they can and cannot climb.

Scroll to Top