Has anyone successfully trained a cat to not go on the counter and/or dinner table?

Luvyna

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I recently brought home a Russian Blue kitten and so far he's been wonderful - super smart, affectionate, and playful (he even plays fetch!) and also a total lap cat - basically everything I have ever wanted in a cat. He's also a big bundle of energy and quite a handful!

One issue I've been having is that he likes to jump onto the counter and the dinner table. I want to avoid having him on the counter so he doesn't get burned, step on something sharp, eat something he shouldn't...etc. before I have the chance to stop him. Also, I hate finding litter he's tracked onto the counter or dirty pawprints where I'm preparing food!

For the dinner table, he is mostly interested in being on the table when I'm eating there - I think it's more that he wants my attention than anything else. He will constantly try to stick his nose into my food (he doesn't eat it but he likes to smell it) or try to step onto my plate (the same way he steps on my laptop when he wants my attention). The only way I can eat in peace is if I shut him out of the dining area, but if I do that he starts trying to act out in other ways to get my attention (like meowing and jumping on the counter lol).

I've managed to deter him from going on the counter by putting tin foil along the edges with some tape sticky-side up and spraying it with vinegar. However, he's always testing the limits and still trying to go on the counter so I feel that as soon as I remove it, he'll go back to counter surfing. For those who have used methods like this to deter cats from going on the counter, how long do you have to keep putting out tape and tin foil and did your cat ever stop trying to jump on the counter?

Also, has anyone been able to teach a cat to stay off the dining table and how did you do it? I've talked to friends who have raised and fostered many cats and it sounds like everyone has ultimately just accepted that their cats will go on the counters and/or tables, so maybe I'm fighting a losing battle here. If you do let your cats go on the counter/table, how do you keep them safe and how do you disinfect everything? Any recommendations for disinfectants that are safe for cats and wood tables and can take care of litterbox germs + bacteria from a raw-fed cat?
 

Furballsmom

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Hi
You're wonderfully resourceful and also realistic - I'm glad he has you !

Just to mention, kittens need to eat as much as they are able to, several times a day.

In case you're feeding commercial in addition, if you utilize different brands of cat food, you can help keep him from imprinting on any one brand, which can be really useful in the future (thinking of manufacturer recipe changes, going out of business or eliminating the variety your cat loves etc)

There may be something here;
How To Keep Cats Off Counters And Tables – TheCatSite Articles

This might be helpful as it includes DIY cleaners, but I don't know - the wood furniture aspect could be a bit of a kicker :)
Pet-Safe Household Cleaning Products That Won't Harm Your Furry Friend
 

Tobermory

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I’ve used the strategy in the article that Furballsmom Furballsmom gave you: double-sided tape on plastic mats that stay in the counters and table unless I’m using them. I also say “Hey! No!” and lift them down. It takes persistence, consistency, and patience. Lots and lots of persistence! Some of my cats have taken longer than others to stop counter surfing, but they’ve all eventually learned. You have to outlast them, just like with toddlers. :lol:

That’s not to say that they won’t get up there when you’re not around, but if you NEVER keep food or any potential playthings up there, they’ll eventually lose interest.
 

lollie

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Yes, I have. My cat never was one to go on the counters. She has always been a hesitant jumper, and I think she is deterred from it being high enough that she doesn’t know exactly what is on the spot she is jumping onto. However, the dining room table has chairs. 🙄 I used tinfoil for a while, but this is not a very attractive look. She knew the minute it was gone. I ended up using the motion activated air can. This is the same thing I use to keep miss curious from under the Christmas tree. It works beautifully.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0721735K9/?tag=thecatsite

Unfortunately, it seems it’s double the price it was a few years ago. 🫤
 

di and bob

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My cats are allowed on the island but not the counters. That has worked and I tell them DOWN! when they jump on the island when they aren't supposed to. Maybe you could get a small table and set it near the counters and tell your kitten that is acceptable with a small blanket, etc. If you just don't want him there period, get some clear plastic carpet protector with those little nubs on the back and put it nub side up where you don't want him to go. It hurts their feet without injury to walk on it. It's clear and easily removable. Once he learns not to jump up there you can remove it. I think once you find him past the kitten stage he will be much more trainable, LOL!
 

ArtNJ

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Sure, I've trained most of our cats to not go on the table by either making a noise ("no", snapping, lightly slapping table) or just putting them down again and again and again. It works on every single cat, except for the ones it doesn't work on. It trains the cats to not go on the tables, except when they decide to do so anyway. Or your not around. But it kind of works! Tobermory Tobermory said it well -- "you have to outlast them". Or give up. That works too. But fight the good fight!
 

Alldara

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Yes to counters and to being on the table while we eat. As said above: consistency. Pick a command (down, off, no) and stick with it but realize you'll have to physically move your kitten while saying it for awhile. We're two years in with Magnus and still doing it downstairs for the TV stand. (Problem is he does it for attention but we can just ignore because it's unsafe).

Consider a way for him to see without being on those surfaces. Magnus liked to be carried. Calcifer actually likes to be in a baby sling while I wash dishes. Now they ask to be picked up rather than jump up.

In 13 years together I NEVER got Nobel and Lily to stay off the table. (Run when they saw me yes). It's a good vantage point to a window. So we settled on when people are eating. We give them (the younger boys) something to do and loads of attention by wiggling toys with our feet or on the side of the table for staying down. Treat enrichment dispensers in another room or having your cat eat when you do is helpful. You can put freeze dried food/treats in a treat ball, snuffle may or other such thing. Nobel loves table time because he sits on a chair and gets periodically petted. There's only two of us at a four person table so it works.

Basically if your detterant includes a "what can I do instead", you'll get better results in a few years as your kitten settles down. Maybe sooner depending on personality.

We use a table cloth with a clear plastic cover. And our countertops are just regular ones. We use Lysol disinfectant in a refillable spray bottle.
 

susanm9006

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I have successfully trained all of my cats not to go on the kitchen counters (at least while I am not looking) by clapping my hands or snapping my fingers and removing them. You need to do it every single time but it works. The nice thing about the finger snapping is that it is quiet and can be done without letting guests know there is a cat sneaking onto the counter. And unfortunately cats don’t believe rules apply when their people are not present so along with consistent application of the rules you need to make sure there is nothing interesting up there for them or that they have alternate spaces where they are allowed. Mine are allowed, for example on the counter height table that I never eat at but not the counters themselves.
 

arr

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All I needed was Ssscat cans (pressurized air with a motion detector.) That solved the problem quickly.

They like to get on top of the fridge and cabinets so with the Ssscat cans everywhere else, I taught them they could go up and come down only in one spot on the counter. Positive reinforcement, physically placing them in the approved spot and consistency.

I think it also helps that we allow them on the island. ( I don’t food prep there, it’s just for stuff to sit on.) It makes them feel like they are part of the action.
 

DreamerRose

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Yes, I've found that Ssscat works the best. It's a no-fail solution, and best of all, it works when you're not in the room.
 
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Luvyna

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Thank you everyone for the input! It's helpful to know that in some cases cats can be trained to stay off the counter and dinner table and thank you for all the advice as well for what to do if it's impossible to always keep them off :) For disinfecting the dinner table, having a clear table cloth is probably what I will do as well to make it easier to clean without damaging the wood.

Also totally agree with your advice A Alldara to make sure to indicate what behaviour is ok as well! I've actually found this to be more effective than saying "no" so far.

I've also found giving my kitten something to play with while I'm eating helps - he always wants to play with me though so I often end up throwing toys for him while I'm eating, sometimes while standing at the counter to make sure he doesn't try to get into the food 😩 He has so much energy! I am definitely hoping he calms down a bit once he gets older haha.

@Furballsmom: Thank you for the kind words, the links, and the reminders! He has food available to him throughout the day and he tends to eat a bit at a time. He is on a homemade raw recipe from his breeder but I definitely will get him acquainted with a few different commercial brands of food as well in the next few weeks. He is 5 months old, I hope I still have enough time to prevent him from imprinting on one type of food.

lollie lollie , arr arr , DreamerRose DreamerRose Were you ever able to get to a point where you could remove the Ssscat tool and have the cats not jump on the table/counter?
 

danteshuman

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I trained him to stay off one of my counters in my galley kitchen. The one side with the fridge, stove & microwave. He knows he is not supposed to go past the breakfast nook where his fountain is, so he runs across it before I can catch him! 🤣

After 3 years of him running across my damn counter I gave up and stuck some mats down on the breakfast nook and stuck his fountain there.
 

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lollie

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Were you ever able to get to a point where you could remove the Ssscat tool and have the cats not jump on the table/counter?
Yes, after once or twice, she would not go back up. However, cats don’t have great memories, and this is just a scary noise, not a dog trying to kill them or something. You may find you have to use it again in six months, or a year. Every cat will be different. You can sprinkle a little haze of flour in a spot on the table to see if they are getting up there.
 

DreamerRose

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lollie lollie , arr arr , DreamerRose DreamerRose Were you ever able to get to a point where you could remove the Ssscat tool and have the cats not jump on the table/counter?
Yes. Lily will still sometimes jump on the counter if she smells something delicious up there when she thinks I'm not watching, but she jumps down the minute I speak up. She never does that when I'm in the room. Mingo used to get on my tiered plant stand and knock over plants, but he finally quit it after I put the Ssscat on it. I went through two cans of Ssscat training them, but I haven't used it now in months, and they stay off counters, tables, and plant stands. It really works.
 
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Luvyna

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Yes, after once or twice, she would not go back up. However, cats don’t have great memories, and this is just a scary noise, not a dog trying to kill them or something. You may find you have to use it again in six months, or a year. Every cat will be different. You can sprinkle a little haze of flour in a spot on the table to see if they are getting up there.
Yes. Lily will still sometimes jump on the counter if she smells something delicious up there when she thinks I'm not watching, but she jumps down the minute I speak up. She never does that when I'm in the room. Mingo used to get on my tiered plant stand and knock over plants, but he finally quit it after I put the Ssscat on it. I went through two cans of Ssscat training them, but I haven't used it now in months, and they stay off counters, tables, and plant stands. It really works.
Good to know, thank you!
 

iPappy

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My cats have been a work in progress on this for 13 years. They don't bother the countertops when I'm in the house. But if I go out the door, stand there for 10 seconds or so, and then walk back in I hear the sound of 12 guilty paws hitting the kitchen floor and running into the next room. It wouldn't bother me so much but two of my cats will eat anything they can find, and once my female gorged on a 1/2 pound block of butter. Another time, my male chewed the twisty tie off the bread and had to have an emergency plastic removal at the vets. I would prefer they stay off the countertops, but anytime they're up there and they find even a drop of something tasty I guess it's one less point for me and score one for them!
 

maggie101

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Up down up down up down up down up down up down....
Continuously 10x as soon as I put her down, back up, no break between. Earlier you start brushing,clipping nails,brushing teeth the better. My cat Peaches never got it. Rescued 5 weeks old now 9. Maggie learned no right away. Don't even have to yell. Coco is afraid of her so I let her on the counter but not the stove or i'll get fur all over it. I block the stove with cookie sheets. Peaches I hiss. So if your kitten will not learn no,hissing will work. Also trixie puzzles though it's summer so the ants are done hybernating
 

arr

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Thank you everyone for the input! It's helpful to know that in some cases cats can be trained to stay off the counter and dinner table and thank you for all the advice as well for what to do if it's impossible to always keep them off :) For disinfecting the dinner table, having a clear table cloth is probably what I will do as well to make it easier to clean without damaging the wood.

Also totally agree with your advice A Alldara to make sure to indicate what behaviour is ok as well! I've actually found this to be more effective than saying "no" so far.

I've also found giving my kitten something to play with while I'm eating helps - he always wants to play with me though so I often end up throwing toys for him while I'm eating, sometimes while standing at the counter to make sure he doesn't try to get into the food 😩 He has so much energy! I am definitely hoping he calms down a bit once he gets older haha.

@Furballsmom: Thank you for the kind words, the links, and the reminders! He has food available to him throughout the day and he tends to eat a bit at a time. He is on a homemade raw recipe from his breeder but I definitely will get him acquainted with a few different commercial brands of food as well in the next few weeks. He is 5 months old, I hope I still have enough time to prevent him from imprinting on one type of food.

lollie lollie , arr arr , DreamerRose DreamerRose Were you ever able to get to a point where you could remove the Ssscat tool and have the cats not jump on the table/counter?
Yes, I rarely use them anymore. I never need them on the dining table. Occasionally the cats get it in their heads to get on the counter and I just put the cans up for a day or two and they quickly stop again.
 
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