Cats are supreme
tree-climbing hunters, with strongly muscled backs and hindquarters that give
them tremendous power to jump-either horizontally or vertically. It’s normal
for cats to jump and climb to high places as they explore their environment.
They have sharp, protractile (extendable) claws that serve as useful crampons
Cats climb for several reasons. They seek out high vantage points, like
countertops and shelves, to survey their territory. They can leap onto
bookshelves or scale drapes to escape from another household pet or from
something that scares them. Tables and the top of the refrigerator often
provide warm, sunny places to snooze. Cats can learn to patrol or “surf”
countertops, stovetops and tables in search of tasty tidbits left behind.
Although cats are graceful acrobats and rarely break things or pose a danger to
themselves, some pet parents prefer that their cats stay off certain
countertops and tables.
It’s reported that the Ragdoll breed actually dislikes heights and is less
inclined to climb, so if you don’t yet have a cat and would prefer one that
stays on the ground, a Ragdoll could be an excellent choice.
Alternatives to Climbing on Countertops and Tables
It’s best not to stifle your cat’s normal jumping and climbing behavior. Your
cat will be much happier if you can provide her with acceptable outlets for
climbing, jumping, escaping, resting and inspecting the environment. If you
don’t, your cat will likely persist in leaping up onto forbidden surfaces.
Indoor cat “tree” furniture with natural bark or carpeting and comfortable
platforms is an ideal substitute. Kitty condos (another type of indoor vertical
furniture designed for cats), with abundant comfortable perching and sleeping
areas, are very appealing to most cats. Offer plenty of comfortable nesting
beds in warm areas or with burrowing material for extra warmth. Cats who like
to gaze out windows or sleep in the sun appreciate commercially available kitty
shelves that attach to window sills, such as the Kitty Sill™ and the
LazyPet® Deluxe Window Perch. Some, like the Thermo Kitty Sill™,
even come with heaters built into the cushions.
Perpetually hungry cats who explore kitchen countertops for food can be
easier to discourage if they get more to eat. Feed several small meals a day
or, if your cat isn’t overweight, provide free access to food. (If you decide
to try free feeding, monitor your cat’s weight closely and go back to giving
her regular meals if she starts to put on weight.) Be sure to put all desirable
human food away so that your cat isn’t rewarded with tasty surprises when she
hops up on counters.
Discouraging your Cat from Jumping on Countertops and Tables
If you provide your cat with alternatives for climbing and, at the same
time, arrange the environment so that places like countertops and tables are
scary for your cat, you may be able to teach her to avoid those specific