Keeping Your Cat off Countertops and Tables
Discouraging your Cat from Jumping on Countertops and Tables continued...
You can dissuade your cat from entering banned areas by using “environmental
punishers,” which punish her remotely, without you being present. Cats are
sensitive animals, so it’s never a good idea to shoo a cat away with your hands
or threaten her with a spray bottle. Too often, your cat just learns to be
afraid of you. Instead, arrange for the environment to punish your cat
directly. For instance, if your cat likes to jump from the floor onto the
kitchen counter, balance some lightweight cookie sheets on the edge of the
counter. When your cat jumps up, she’ll land on the sheets. They’ll move and
possibly topple over, making some unpleasant noise while she leaps back onto
the floor. Your cat shouldn’t be harmed by this experience, but she’ll be
unlikely to risk jumping on the counter again.
Commercially available deterrent devices perform a similar function. The
Snappy™ Trainer is a large plastic paddle attached to an upside-down mousetrap.
Any touch causes the mousetrap to trigger. When triggered, the device flies up
in the air and startles the cat who set it off. The device is safe because (a)
the trap is upside-down, so your cat can’t be caught in it, and (b) the large
paddle causes the trap to propel up into the air. The Snappy Trainer is most
effective if you set up two or three and place a sheet of newspaper on top of
them. When your cat touches the newspaper, she’ll trigger the traps
simultaneously. The SSSCAT® cat repellent device is a
motion-activated system that triggers a blast of compressed air when a cat
comes within a certain distance. These devices can be positioned in areas where
you don’t want your cat to go. Another option is to cover the area with a
ScatMat®, a sheet of plastic that delivers a mild static charge when
a cat steps on it.
The main advantage to using an environmental punisher is that it happens
whether you’re present or not. Your cat won’t learn to simply wait until it’s
safe-until you’re not around-to do things like jump up on countertops and
tables. Instead, she’ll discover that it’s never safe to do those
things. Since you won’t always be there when your cat gets punished, she won’t
associate an environmental punisher with you. You don’t want her to decide that
you’re the scary thing!
What NOT to Do
- Do not scold your cat verbally, spank her or hit her for getting on
countertops and tables. It’s highly unlikely that this kind of punishment will
teach her to stay off. More likely, she’ll just become frightened of you.
- Do not shoo or push your cat off countertops and tables. She could fall and
- Do not use any device to scare your cat away from forbidden areas if
there’s a chance she could be physically harmed by the device. For instance, do
not substitute real mousetraps for the Snappy Trainer. The point of an
environmental punisher is to make your cat reluctant to return to a particular
place. The intent is to startle her or make the place uncomfortable for her.
There is no reason to physically harm your cat.
- Do not use environmental punishers to keep your cat away from a certain
area if she’s especially skittish and nervous. She may become so frightened
that she‘ll be reluctant to enter the room at all or even move around your
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