As cute as cats are, they can be quite a handful to handle. One of the most common problems that cat owners face with their feline pets is counter surfing and cabinet trashing.
If you’re fed up with these annoying and potentially dangerous habits of your cat, then this article is for you. Today, we’re sharing a complete guide on how to keep cats out of cabinets and off counters.
Before we get into all the ways you can try to keep your cat from jumping onto counters and getting into cabinets, let’s take a moment to understand why cats do it in the first place.
There are a few possible reasons for the attraction between cats and kitchen counters and cabinets. We’ll discuss them below, and once you figure out why your cat behaves as such, you can use this information to choose the most appropriate method(s) to make things right.
- Cats enjoy heights — you may not know this, but cats love heights! They usually enjoy staying at high spots where they can keep an eye on the surroundings and/or spend some alone time.
Countertops and cabinets serve as perfect high areas for cats because they’re not too high. Most cats can reach them either by jumping up the floor or using a well-positioned chair to get a jump boost.
- Kitchen cabinets and counters smell appealing — these areas of the kitchen are typically loaded with foods with tempting scents for feline pets such as tuna salad, raw chicken chunks, ground beef, or whatever else you’re whipping up for dinner.
Leaving your cabinets and countertops dirty or untidy with food plates and containers on display can cause your cat to take it as an invitation to come up and have a bite.
- Cats love to drink from running water — it’s also common for cats to be interested in fresh running water from faucets on your kitchen sink. For a lot of cats, this is their preferred drinking water source.
While it’s true that kitchen sink water is likely cleaner than toilet water, there are better options for your cat out there.
As fascinating as it can be when a cat jumps so high up, it can also be very annoying if this jumping ruins your furniture, or even worse, compromises your pet’s safety.
If you’re looking for ways to prevent your cat from reaching cabinets, you should first keep it from jumping on the counter. In most cases, cats jump onto countertops and use them as a booster to get to cabinets.
You can employ the following techniques to discourage your cat from hanging around the countertop. These methods can be quite effective as long as you’re consistent in implementing them with your kitten.
- Try double-sided sticky tape — applying double-sided tape to the counters can offer great results since a lot of cats don’t like the sticky feeling of tape on their paws. If they experience it a few times in a row whenever they step onto the counter, chances are they’ll stop doing it.
Simply apply some tape on the counter’s edge as well as any other spot that your cat frequently uses on the counter. The downside of this technique is that you may have to reapply the tape repeatedly and the adhesive it leaves behind can be hard to clean up once you’re done.
Not to mention, your feline pet can outsmart you and find a different way to reach the cabinets.
- Use aluminum foil — tape down some aluminum foil strips along the counter. Not only does the feel of the foil on their paws discourage cats, but also the sound it makes when they walk on it.
The disadvantage here is that the foil can disrupt your use of the countertop and it can be wasteful to just lay it down for no “real” purpose.
- Attempt clicker training — instead of punishments, your cat is more likely to respond to positive reinforcement training techniques. So, when you see your pet scouring for food on the counter, give it a treat or a toy but place it on the floor near the counter to lure them off and reward them at the same time.
Once your cat hops off, couple the reward with a sound from a clicker. With repetition, your cat will eventually associate the clicker’s sound with the reward, allowing you to use the clicker on its own to get your cat off the counter.
- Figure out the drinking arrangements — if your cat always goes for the kitchen sink to drink water, this may be a sign of stressors present around its water bowl that you need to remove. For example, the water bowl is close to a heavy traffic area or near the litter box.
Another reason your cat may prefer drinking from faucet water is that it likes how cold and fresh it tastes. You can replicate these qualities in the water bowl by replacing the water 2 to 3 times daily and throwing in a couple of ice cubes to keep the temperature cool.
Additionally, you should never leave the faucet open. Besides being wasteful, it’s also tempting for your feline pet. You can also consider purchasing a cat water fountain to keep water flowing in the bowl.
- Keep your counter tidy — cats are curious animals by nature, so it makes sense that they’d want to investigate if they spot unfamiliar items on the counter or inside cabinets.
It could be a pen, a cup, or even your keys – once something catches your cat’s attention, it’ll want to check it out, even if it has to jump high to reach it.
In this situation, you just need to remove clutter. The fewer items you display for your feline pet, the less temptation you’re offering and the lower the chance of something capturing your cat’s interest and having it venture into off-limit areas.
- Clear away food from countertops — a cat’s sense of smell may not be on the same level as a cat, but it’s still a lot stronger than yours. This is why your cat can easily pick up different scents of food.
As such, if you’re used to keeping lots of food on your kitchen counters, your cat will probably want to get a taste. Once the cat is up there, reaching the cabinets isn’t an issue.
To avoid such a scene, you should put away any extra food and wipe off any crumbs.
- Close the blinds — if there’s a window close to your kitchen cabinet or counter, it could trigger your cat’s curiosity and lure them into jumping up to look out and investigate what’s going on on the other side.
You can prevent this by simply closing the window blinds when you want your cat to get off the counter.
- Provide approved spots — giving your kitty high places for jumping that you approve of is a fantastic way to keep them off counters and out of cabinets, as well as encourage physical exercise without disturbing people in the house or ruining your things.
Consider buying a cat tree or a jumping condo as an alternative high spot to spare your kitchen.
If you often come home to find your kitchen cabinets trashed courtesy of your cat even after you’ve done your best to prevent it from jumping onto the counter, then it’s time to kick things up a notch.
The following methods and tips can help you curb your pet’s nosy and potentially harmful behavior. The general idea is to make the cabinets as unappealing as possible to your cat.
Child locks are a simple yet effective idea to stop your cat from opening your kitchen cabinets. Just install child safety locks on the cabinets so your pet won’t be able to open them and get in.
Cats don’t like the scents of detergents and other chemicals. So keeping your cleaning products in the cabinets can deter your cat from snooping around them.
Once again, providing your feline pet with approved high places for jumping is a nice way to keep them off counters and out of cabinets, as well as promote physical exercise without disturbing people in the house or ruining your things.
Consider buying a cat tree or a jumping condo as an alternative high spot to spare your kitchen.
Whenever you see your kitty trying to open a cabinet, try blowing a whistle or shaking a can of coins from a discreet place where they can’t see you.
With repetition, your cat will think that the act of attempting to get into the cabinet is what triggers the startling sound. This can discourage the cat so they leave your cabinets alone.
5 – Eliminate the Booster
If your cat uses a booster such as a chair to reach the cabinets, you should move it from its usual spit to eliminate the boost.
Just like how cats dislike the sticky feel of double-sided tape on their paws, they also hate the nubby feeling of the carpet’s opposite surface.
Place either one of these items on the spots that your cat uses to jump and reach the cabinets. If they experience the annoying feeling a few times in a row, chances are they’ll stop pursuing the cabinets.
Cat repellent sprays work for a reason – cats don’t like the scents they produce and tend to stay away from where you apply them.
As such, you can try spraying the cabinets and the surrounding area with cat repellent to deter your pet away. There are natural sprays available to keep your food and kitchen tools chemical-free.
When we talk about providing a distraction, we’re referring to toys and activities. You should give your feline pets plenty of entertainment outlets to help them let out their energy in a healthy way.
This will decrease the cat’s need to fight boredom by venturing into your kitchen cabinets. Offering your pet attention, spending time with them, and engaging them in physical activities are all ways of healthy distraction.
Despite being one of the oldest tricks in the book, this technique can still work wonders when it comes to correcting inappropriate feline behaviors. Lightly spraying your cat with water is a classic training method that’s proven to work in teaching or modifying feline habits.
All you need is some water and a spray bottle. Then, simply spray your cat whenever you catch them going near the cabinets.
The downside to this method is that it requires your presence at home for most of the day so you can constantly monitor what your cat is up to.
10 – Sprinkle Lemon Peels
Last but not least, you can try sprinkling lemon peels around the cabinets and on their handles. You see, cats dislike the lemon scent, so after you juice your lemons, don’t throw out the peels.
Instead, chop them up into pieces and place them over the counter, on the cabinets’ handles, and inside the cabinets. For maximum effect, put fresh peels every week or so.
There you have it, a complete guide on how to keep cats out of cabinets and off counters. If you try all the methods we discussed above yet nothing seems to work despite you being consistent, then you may need the services of a feline behavioral therapist.
In this case, the specialist will probably visit your house to evaluate the situation and come up with a suitable behavioral modification plan.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.