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Teaching cat to stay off tables and counters

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Can anyone help with some ideas on how to train our 4 month old kitten to stay off tables and counters and out of the baby's crib? I'm scared to leave the baby in the crib without the door to the room closed because Shadow (our psychocat) likes to jump in the crib and chase fingers and feet. He also is constantly running across the table or is checking out the counters. Water doesn't work - he loves water!
post #2 of 17
lemon scented air fresheners in the places he isn't allowed. Cats don't like the smell. Keep his nails trimmed. Start training him to not see feet or hands as playthings. If he attacks a hand or foot grab one of his toys and distract him with that. Make sure he has regular playtime and the hand and foot game will be less appealing. I know you will get more info from our experts.
post #3 of 17
The thing with training cats is consistency. Squirting water or "punishing" a cat will only teach him not to do something when Mom and Dad are home, or worse that people are to be feared. The trick is to make the cat think that the counter or crib is doing the "bad" thing (smell, touch, noise), not the people in the house.

The lemon or other citrus scent will work because he won't like the smell and it's there all the time. You can also put double sided tape (or just tape sticky side up) or aluminum foil on the counters because cats generally don't like the feeling of that on their paws. Booby trap the table and counters with stacks of empty pop cans, perhaps with a few pennies in each, so when he jumps up the cans will tumble and create a horrible racket. The noise will scare him and he'll think twice about going up there again. You can also tape a few helium balloons to the table or counter. Cats are generally scared of things larger than they are, and if you have a ceiling fan or small table fan so the balloons move it makes the area more intimidating. You could also try the balloons (mylar would probably be best) around the crib, but I would try them away from the baby first. Some cats think balloons make great toys, and obviously claws and teeth can pop balloons.

Hope this helps!
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I'll try the lemon scent and see if that works. As to the balloons and the pop cans on the table, he thinks those are toys (my 2 year old son has had many a balloon lost to Shadow in the last couple of months).
post #5 of 17
If you follow this link and scroll down to Hi Tech Pet Products you will see something you can put in the crib when the baby isn't in there to stop your cat from getting in the crib.

post #6 of 17
I've had this problem with all my cats too. Usually I would clap and make noise and hiss, and nothing worked. The vet suggested the squirt bottle, but it didn't help either. I have empty pop cans and tin foil on the table and counters now. I'll let you know if it works for me. (I have some pretty persistent cats). Thanks for the advice.
post #7 of 17
Well, I realize it hasn't been but a few minutes since I last wrote and said I had the boobie traps in place. But, they failed. The cats think they are toys. The tin foil was pulled off the counters and they are walking on it and playing with it. They knocked the pop cans down too, and are batting them back and forth. Ha! ha! If it wasn't so discouraging, it would make a cute picture. Back to the drawing board to try the citrus spray.
post #8 of 17

If the citrus spray doesn't work, you can try a messy solution. Balance very small plastic dishes on the edge of the counter. Partially fill the dishes with water. When they leap up, water will fly and scare them away. It will make a mess but it may be worth it.

Good luck!
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Nothing is working to keep Shadow off the counters, tables etc! He's getting worse now that he has figured out that he can jump super high without needing something in between to help him get up.
Tin Foil - sat in the middle of it and had a bath
Tape - sat there and licked it
Lemon scent - seems to like the smell
Water - I've even turned the shower on while he was in the tub and he still goes back in, so I doubt a little bowl of water will do much

I remember when we were young my parents used mouse traps to keep the dog off the counter...should I be trying that or does anyone else have any ideas!!
So far he has dumped one of my plants (6 ft off the ground and he still managed to get it) and on a regular basis he dumps everything off my computer. I'm worried that my Precious Moments figurines are next!
post #10 of 17
I have the same problem with Fitz. When he's left at home too long he "throws" things. I routinely come and find my sponges from the kitchen sink thrown under the kitchen table and he takes the drain plugs out of the bathroom sink and tub. Another time he threw my large George Foreman Grill from the top of the fridge (it was back close to the wall). The best was when I came home to find he had gotten on top of the entertainment center (that was covered in contact paper) and jumped up on the shelf (3 ft above the entertainment center) and threw my parakeet, cage and all, onto the floor. Luckily I found Benny (my bird) hiding behind the litterbox in the closet. So, now you have my troublemaker's history. Let me tell you what works for me. I watched him to see when he does these things. He knows he's not supposed to be on the table or counters and he only goes on them when I can see him or he wants my attention (even if I'm not home). I know this because when I am home and I tell him to get down he won't but the second I get up to make him get down, he jumps off. Since noticing this, I've been paying more attention to him and he's stopped. The other trick is I call him and leave messages. I know it sounds weird but if I call when I'm going to be late or during a weekend when I'm away, he hardly throws a thing. I hope this helps, sorry for the long post.
post #11 of 17
I do not believe in mistreating cats any more than I believe in mistreating children but I think both need discipline at times and sometimes a little negative reinforcement is what works best. (I'm a former educator, btw, and use child behavior techniques on the cat!) After discussing strategies, my husband has become the cat trainer in our household and our cats have always been well behaved and people friendly. In fact, Jake isn't happy unless he's close to one of us.

Here is how my husband has trained our cats to stay out of the blinds, off the counters, and out of places where they might get hurt. When he sees the cat exhibiting the improper behavior he yells "NO" very firmly and then goes and catches the bad boy, carries him over to the sink and runs the water. Then he takes a very small amount of water on his fingers and flicks it in the cat's face. It may take several repetitions at first but eventually Mr. Cat gets the idea that getting on the counter will result in a "face washing" as we call it, though he never really gets very wet.

This has been very effective and the cat does not dislike my husband because of the training. In fact, he adores him. Of course, it is very important that the trainer remembers to praise the cat often when he sees him exhibiting acceptable behavior and pays him a lot of attention. It also helps if the trainer is the one who feeds the cat.

Also, when my husband sees the cat doing something else that is not a desirable behavior he yells, "NO" and the cat stops. In fact, not only does he stop but he runs to my husband who praises him and rubs his ears for stopping the bad behavior and coming over to see him. It's been very successful, but the praise is as important to reinforce good behaiors as the negative action is to stop negative behaviors.

And here's a cute story to go with this.......When I was working on the computer Jake came in and scratched on the closet door in my office just to get my attention. He wouldn't stop and I yelled, "Chuck tell the cat NO!" My husband yelled "NO" and Jake ran to him to get an ear scratching instead of a face washing. The next day when Jake came into the office though he had a new plan. He came in, got behind the office door and pushed it shut!! Then he went over and scratched on the closet door!! I think he shut the door to keep me from yelling to my husband to tell him "NO"! How smart is that?? :laughing2 I opened the door and he ran right out before I could call for reinforcements, because he new he wasn't suppose to be doing that.
post #12 of 17
Originally posted by psychocat
I remember when we were young my parents used mouse traps to keep the dog off the counter...should I be trying that or does anyone else have any ideas
You have to be real careful with mouse traps. If you do this, place the traps UPSIDE DOWN. This way, when the cat leaps onto the counter the traps will trip and fly into the air but will not harm the cat. I read about doing this in a cat behavior book, but never tried it. Mousetraps can be so dangerous, it scares me to think about using them around my cats.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
I agree about being really careful with the traps, and about being scared to use them for a cat, that's why I was posting for further ideas. It worked with the dog but she was a large dalmation not a small boned cat! I'm going to give the flicking water in his face a try. I want to exhaust all other possibilities before I go the trap route.
post #14 of 17
Just a thought I had about using mouse traps safely. You could glue something onto the trap where it strikes the one side, maybe a dowel thick enough so it would be higher than the top of the cat's foot, if that makes sense. That way it wouldn't be able to go down on the cat's foot. I've never done it, so use your own judgement. It just came to mind while reading the posts.
Our Enya is bad about getting on the table and a couple of counters and we haven't been able to break her of the habit. She usually gets on the counter when she's hungry, looking for food. But she'll go there right after eating at times too.
Our newest cat, Blaze, came from a house where he was allowed on the counters and table, so once he's in that part of our house more he'll probably be doing it too, but he's not as agile as Enya and he has shorter legs, so he won't get up there as easily.
post #15 of 17
One more thing that I read about regarding the mouse traps. Put them upside down on the counter and cover them with newspaper. It will still jump and make the loud noise, but the newspaper protects the cat from accidently being caught in the trap. I would try to set off the traps myself a few times with different amounts of newspaper on top to see what is most effective without being tossed off by the trap's jumping.
post #16 of 17
Thank you for the idea of "flicking the water in the cat's face". I think I will give this a try. They do tend to listen to my fiancee more than me, cause of his deep commanding voice. So, I think that we will start this new method of discipline today. Thank you for the new idea. I'll let ya know if it works out.
post #17 of 17
Sarah -

I hope it works for you. It takes a good balance of discipline and love and you really have to be vigilant and follow through EVERY time you see them exhibit the undesired behavior, but I know it can work. My husband has trained 4 cats with this method. He's a retired cop, originally from Ohio, so he has an authoritarian voice too.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for ya. Good luck!
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