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Counter Surfin' Cat

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Mojo, our female cat who is just about 1 year old, is a counter skater. But, she is VERY sneaky about it most of the time.

AS SOON as you leave the room (No food having been on the counter r anything) to go to the washroom even, you come out and she dives off of the counter, and down the stairs as fast as you can realise she was ever there. Or, you turn around and start leaving the kitchen, and she was no where to be seen, when you hear her land on the counter, and as soona s you turn around, she runs off the edge and down the stairs and into the laundry room like she always does to hide.

Picture this- you make a casserole for dinner, and as you take it out of the oven, and take off your oven mitts, you go to the microwave to heat up something, turn around the mojo has jumped up and is clawing at the top of the food, pushed it off the counter, or actually eating it, even though it is steaming hot!! THIS happens WAY too often, where you end up having to go without supper because you spent all day making it, and then the cat attacks it, and her hair is all over it, etc (My fiance and I are slightly allegic to cats, but only when the hair gets in our nose/mouth, or close facial contact, otherwise we are perfectly fine, so if she is on our food, and we ate it- it wouldn't be a good week or two afterwards)

SOMETIMES, she will even do it right behind your back while you are in the room- you are on the phone, and happen to be in the kitchen, and you turn around and she is pushing stuff off of the table, or licking the table, or licking the counter, or even licking the stove or side of the fridge. She has even been caught licking the salt and pepper shakers. The worst is finding her licking herself on to of the cutting board!!!! The house is kept very clean and we never leave food on the counter to encourage this. (We want to have a baby inthe next year or so, so I am practising the cleansliness) I use Fantastic on the counters, and leave behind no crumbs of food after eating, etc (we dont want her to think she will get anything if she goes there) and even then she will still stalk the counter tops, licking everything etc. I have even tried changing my cleaners (Always make sure it isn't poisonous etc.)

But I am sorry.. I find it rather disgusting to have her catlitter-feet and butt-tongue (Lol!!) all over the counter that we cut our vegetables and fruit on. I go through cleaners in this house like crazy, and I am starting to get VERY annoyed with this behaviour. I have tried double-sided tape and tinfoil, but she still ignores it and stalks the counter tops like she is hunting for something. We dont have mice, and if we did- they would be downstairs, not up on our counters. And believe me- tifoiling your entire table, and your entire counter, top of your stove, sink, and side of your fridge makes you look like a crazy persn when people come to visit!!! Hehehe

How do I get her to stop?
post #2 of 9
It sounds like you're trying a lot of the right things -- keeping the areas free of food, using double-stick tape. Some people have also had luck with upside-down carpet runners, which are covered with plastic points cats hate to walk on.

Adolescent cats are kind of incorrigible that way... they have so much energy. But it's also a good time to train them and for them to learn.

You should calmly lift her off the counter and put her on the floor while saying "No" in a loud, firm voice. Unfortunately you have to do this every time you see the behavior, over and over... it may seem hopeless and repetitive, but eventually they learn. You have to be absolute, no exceptions, and every family member has to have the same zero-tolerance attitude. It'll take months. But it really does work; once they learn, all it takes is a little reinforcement now and then.

Also, since food is playing a role in enticing the cat up there, maybe you could try locking her out of the kitchen when you cook.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Well you see there are two problems with this:

1.) As soon as she realizes that you have noticed her, or you make a movement that suggests so.. she takes off faster than you can think! The blank and white turns to a grey blurr and she is gone. And you cant tell her 'no' after you go down the hall and down the stairs, and through the living room down there and into the laundry room and pick her up and say it. It just wont be connected in her mind. I have actually had to get on ym hands and knees, (Which is very rarely something that has worked,about 2% but I have caught her maybe twice in the past few moths at about a dozen times a day) and dove for her as she jumped off the counter like a baseball player going to the home-run! And all she does is bite you and run away. Or kick and kick and scratch and kick because she thinks she is going to get in BIG trouble. She knows itis wrong- you can see it in her eyes. but, once you see her on there, there is literally only a milisecond before she is gone. Or you are downstairs watching TV.. and you hear her banging th cupboard doors, because she knows the food is in there, but by the time you make it half way up the stairs as quiet as possible- you hear her hit the ground and she is no where in sight.

2.) We cant clos eher out of the kitchen it is open to the rest of the house. She can't be locked in the bedroom- as we have the 3 week old kittenin there that she isn't too happy with, and she often jumps up on the computer desk and breaks things (We have needed two new keyboards from broken stuff landing on them) and she doesnt do it only when you are in there. And what about when I am not home, she has free roam of the counter? And a mat would only cover a small amount of the counter space, and a small spot on the table. We have a big counter area, etc. *Sigh* I think I have tried everything, and it is getting bad enough my Fiance is thinking of getting her a new home.
post #4 of 9
I know that this is not going to be a popular answer, most people don't like it...but I had the much the same problem with Marcie. She would wait until I went to bed or left the house to get up on the counters because she knew that it was bad. If I am not there to discipline her, then she thinks it is alright to do whatever. I tried a waterbottle, foil, tape, lemon-scented stuff, apple-bitter, nothing worked. Finally, I got a scat mat. Lots of ppl don't like the idea of giving a beloved furbaby a slight shock, but it is a last resort, and it worked. It is no more than a static shock, and you can move the mat around to different locations and continually surprise the cat so the cat knows all of the surfaces to avoid. Whenever marcie thinks that she can start getting back up on the counters again, we just set the mat out for a day or two, and the behavior stops. I will not allow icky litter feet on my kitchen or bathroom counters....ewww. I don't stand on my counters, why should she?
post #5 of 9
When you mentioned that she "knows the food is in there", are you talking about people food or cat food? The smell of dry cat food is extraordinarily strong, and 20x stronger to the cat's sense of smell. If there's cat food in the cupboard, I would put it in an airtight container. You may have already done that but I thought I would mention it just in case.

I don't know what to suggest. For some reason, she knows that you don't want her up there...so there's really not much reason to grab her on her way down. While I really don't care if mine get on the counter unless they are in my way...repetition has always been very effective for me. While I'm getting cat food ready, I have 8 hungry cats sitting on the floor staring at me, seriously. I don't know why, I just always calmly put them back on the floor and eventually the message gets through.
post #6 of 9
Has anyone tried water trays?? That was suggested on another site, and sounds like it might be interesting, if you didn't mind getting water on the floor a few times.

Just take shallow foil pans, put them along the edges of the counter, and put a half-inch of water in them - when kitty jumps on the counter, SURPRISE!!

I don't have a cause to try them at this point, one of our older cats is an outdoor cat mainly because he used to jump on the counter and spray!! I wish I'd known about some of these approaches back then...
post #7 of 9
Oh my god do I feel your pain. My cats hang ten off the counters eevery day and are wicked sneaky. Nothing I have tried has had a permanent solution. I mean, you cant stop them from jumping up when you're at work!
My next trick is to try the Scat Mats. It give your cat a little shock if it steps on the mat. The idea is to place the mat where the cat would stand while he was thinking about doiing the undesirable behavior. For example, if he always jumsp up in one spot (like my cat does) you put the mat on the floor by that spot, and that way he'll associate the shock with thinking about the behavior. The mats are kinda expensive, like 40$. I'm planning on borrowing them from a friend first, and if they work, then I'll buy them.
post #8 of 9
I'd also keep in mind that this cat is only a year old and still immature. Most cats' energy level decreases considerably once they become adults (after two years). It's like having a kid in the terrible twos... they're going to be difficult in ways that they'll grow out of later.

About the cat running off the counter before you can reach her... Maybe it's become a game with you, in her mind? If the people are lunging at her or yelling or angry, it just ups the excitement level. Try just turning to watch her on the counter while doing and saying nothing, and then if she stays put, go up to her slowly so you can lift her down and say "No."

Why not bring the three-week-old kitten into the kitchen/living area while you cook and eat dinner, and lock the other cat in the bedroom? Removing the temptation and difficulty is better than giving the cat up. Leaving the two cats together for a few hours, even if they don't like each other, is also preferable to giving the cat up.
post #9 of 9
Originally Posted by emmylou View Post
About the cat running off the counter before you can reach her... Maybe it's become a game with you, in her mind? If the people are lunging at her or yelling or angry, it just ups the excitement level. Try just turning to watch her on the counter while doing and saying nothing, and then if she stays put, go up to her slowly so you can lift her down and say "No."

Nah, I think that's a fear thing. Cat jumps off the counter because she knows you're coming and you're going to yell at her, and she flees. But once you're gone, she's back up on the counter. She doesn't associate the yelling human as being connected to the counter, she just knows that her human starts yelling and being scary for no reason. Instead, just calmly go up to the kitty and place her on the floor (gently, lol). When she jumps up again, place her back on the floor. Just keep doing it and she'll get tired of constantly having to jump up only to be removed, and she'll go about her day.

I don't have much of a worry about my kitties hopping up on the counter, but I don't mind it. My family feels otherwise, though, lol. Buffy likes to jump up on the counter and it drives them nuts, but I just don't see what's wrong with it. So I compromise; when she jumps on the counter, I put her up on the fridge or put her on the floor. She only jumps on the counter when she's hungry, and since I feed her on the fridge now, she's content to stay there while she watches me prepare her food. Molly jumps up once in a blood moon when she's REALLY hungry, but when I place her back on the floor, she stays there. Willow couldn't care less about the counter, she just sits wherever she is and waits for me to bring the food to her.

They all like to lay about on the kitchen table, though. We don't use it much anymore, but again, my family doesn't like it. If us girls see it, they won't pay attention to us commanding them jump off (but timid Molly always flees when any of us gets up and starts walking toward her; she's never been hit by us, but I think her former owners used to, so she's still timid about sudden, rash movements). But once dad walks into the room, all 3 will scatter. That's a definite fear response, they don't see it as a game. Dad is scary to them and they know he gets even more scary when they're on this particular table, so they jump off. We girls are more gentle so with the exception of Molly, they'll just complain when we pick them up and place them on the floor, or on the window across from the table.
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