Why Shouldn’T You Push Your Cat Off The Counter?

Cats Can Get Seriously Injured When Pushed Off Counters

While cats are known for having great balance and agility, pushing your cat off the counter can still result in serious injury. Studies show that cats falling from heights as low as 2-3 meters can suffer severe injuries like fractures, dislocations, head trauma, and thoracic trauma [1]. A graph from one study shows the highest fatality rate for cats falling from 2-7 stories, versus higher heights where they have time to orient themselves [2]. So even though cats can survive incredible falls when they have time to react, short falls from counters can catch them by surprise and lead to costly medical bills, pain, and potentially death.

It Can Physically Hurt Them

Cats can suffer injuries when falling from counter tops and other high places. The injuries can range from minor sprains to more serious damage like broken bones or internal trauma.

According to one veterinary hospital, sprains, broken bones, head trauma, and chest or abdominal injuries may result when felines fall from heights like countertops or tables (source). High rise syndrome is a condition seen in cats who fall long distances and can lead to various injuries (source).

The injuries from falling depend on factors like the height, landing surface, and how the cat lands. But pushing cats off counters could easily lead to harmful impacts that break bones or damage internal organs.

It Can Damage Their Trust

Pushing cats off counters or other furniture can damage the bond of trust between you and your cat. Cats are very sensitive and empathetic creatures that rely on feeling safe and secure with their human companions. As explained in an article on cats and the human-animal bond, “Cats are exquisitely sensitive to their environments and those in them” (https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2021-10-15/cats-and-power-human-animal-bond). If you betray that trust by startling, scaring or hurting your cat through aggressive physical contact like pushing, they can become skittish, fearful, or even aggressive in response. This destroys the loving bond you want to have with your feline friend.

Better Ways To Train Them

Instead of pushing cats off counters, it’s much more effective to train them using positive reinforcement. This involves rewarding them with treats and praise when they demonstrate the desired behavior. For example, if your cat jumps off the counter on their own, immediately give them a treat and pet them, so they associate getting off the counter with something pleasant. You can also set up booby traps like tin foil or double-sided tape on the counter when you’re not around which deters them without scaring them. The key is rewarding good behavior, not punishing bad behavior. As the HSHV explains, positive reinforcement training stimulates a cat’s body and mind while strengthening your bond through quality time together.

Provide Alternatives to the Counter

It’s natural for cats to want to seek out high vantage points for surveying their territory, such as window ledges and counter tops. Instead of constantly pushing them off these places, provide alternative perches and climbing spaces they’re allowed to use. This gives them approved outlets for their natural instincts to climb and observe from up high.

Options include tall cat trees and towers placed near windows, so they can look outside while perched on an acceptable surface. There are also wall-mounted cat shelves and steps to give them access to different levels around your home. Brands like Catastrophic Creations specialize in stylish cat furniture that attaches securely to walls.

You can also create DIY cat climbers using shelving units and sisal rope. The goal is to give your cat approved high-up spots that are even more enticing than the counter tops. With enough vertical space to climb and appropriate surfaces to scratch, your cat will be less inclined to jump on kitchen counters.

Address Underlying Issues

One of the most important things is to try to understand why your cat is jumping on the counter in the first place. According to this article, “The cats know that when they get on the counter, they’ll get your attention.” So attention-seeking could be one motivation (source). Or as this source explains, if your cat is scavenging for food on the counter, it could be a sign they are hungry and need more regular feedings (source).

Try to observe when and why your cat jumps up – do they want food, attention, or are they bored? Understanding the root cause will allow you to address the behavior more effectively through training, adjusting schedules, or providing more enrichment.

Use Deterrents Humanely

When trying to deter cats from jumping on counters, it’s important to use humane methods that won’t harm them. Some gentle deterrent options include:

Citrus scents – Cats dislike the smell of citrus. Try spraying citrus oils or scattering peels near counter edges. However, be aware that citronella oil can be toxic to cats if ingested https://www.rover.com/blog/how-to-keep-cats-off-counters/.

Sticky tape – Apply strips of sticky tape to counter edges. Cats dislike the sticky feeling on their paws. Be cautious with tape strength to avoid fur removal or paw irritation https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-keep-cats-off-countertops-200706.

Aluminum foil – Cover counters with sheets of foil when not in use. The sound and feel deter most cats. Ensure your cat doesn’t try to ingest the foil.

Squirt bottles/compressed air – When catching your cat in the act, a quick spritz of water or puff of air can startle them off counters. Use sparingly and never aim for their face.

Avoid methods like physical punishment, loud noises, or sticky substances. These can frighten cats and damage the human-cat bond. The goal is to deter, not traumatize.

Watch For Stress Signals

It’s important to be aware of the signs that indicate your cat is feeling stressed or anxious. Cats may display both behavioral and physical symptoms when they are stressed. According to the Cats Protection, some common signs of stress in cats include becoming more withdrawn or hiding more than usual, acting more aggressive, urinating outside the litter box, and excessive grooming or over-grooming.

The Blue Cross notes that changes in your cat’s body language can also signal stress. This includes a tense, hunched up body posture, flattened ears, dilated pupils, and increased lip licking or swallowing. Vocal indicators of stress include growling, hissing, and excessive meowing.

Physically, signs of stress may include diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, and excessive shedding. It’s important to pay attention to these signals and try to identify the source of stress, so you can take steps to help your cat feel more comfortable. If your cat is displaying multiple signs of stress or the symptoms persist, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian.

When To Talk To A Vet

Sometimes a cat’s counter surfing behavior can be caused by an underlying health issue. Conditions like hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or arthritis can lead to increased appetite and food-seeking behaviors. Cognitive issues in older cats may also contribute to counter surfing and other behavioral problems.

If your cat’s counter surfing seems obsessive or has started suddenly, especially alongside other behavioral changes like increased vocalization or changes in litter box habits, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian. They can run tests to check for conditions like hyperthyroidism, diabetes, kidney disease, dental issues, and more. Many of these conditions become more common in senior cats.

Your vet may also recommend pain medication if arthritis is making it difficult for your cat to comfortably access their normal food bowls. Proper treatment of medical conditions alongside training and management methods can help reduce undesirable counter surfing behaviors.



In conclusion, there are several important reasons not to push cats off counters or other furniture:

Pushing cats can cause them physical harm or even death from falls, especially from higher locations (1). Cats have a high survival rate from falls only up to around 7 stories (2).

Pushing cats damages the bond of trust between owner and cat. Better training methods exist that utilize positive reinforcement.

Providing cats appropriate scratching posts, cat trees, and designated areas on furniture can satisfy their instinct to climb and scratch.

Underlying issues like stress or anxiety may cause unwanted behaviors, so it’s best to address the root cause.

There are humane deterrents like sticky tape, aluminum foil, citrus scents that can discourage cats from unwanted areas.

Ultimately, pushing cats is ineffective and risky. With patience and care, cat owners can find solutions that work for both human and cat.

Scroll to Top