It is time to go into the kitchen and prepare your evening meal. You walk into your kitchen ready to start work and there to your dismay – sitting casually on your clean kitchen work top as if nothing is wrong - is your cat.
So why does he do it? How did he get there? And more importantly – can you stop him from doing it again?
First and foremost you need to understand that it is natural for all cats to jump and climb. Although there are ways you can deter your cat from jumping on to areas such as kitchen worktops (I will go into more detail about this later on), you will never be able to stop him from jumping and climbing.
All cats are predators – and seeking out high vantage points gives them a better overall view of any prey or unwanted visitors that may enter their territory. When your cat is sat up on a windowsill you will notice by his body language when he spots either prey or an unwanted visitor entering the area he is surveying. I have lost count of the times that one of my own cats has been sat very still on a windowsill staring outside only to suddenly jump down and shoot off in the direction of the cat flap to access the area being surveyed. Most times this is so they can chase off an unwelcome feline visitor, but sometimes the object of their interest is not immediately visible to the human eye.
The reason cats are such agile creatures can be attributed to their amazingly supple framework. Using their hind legs they can jump as high as 6 feet in the air. Kittens under the age of around 4 months and very elderly cats may not have enough spring in their hind legs to transport them directly to a higher place from ground level, but from the age of 4-5 weeks all cats have the ability to climb. This means even cats that are physically unable to jump into high places will use other objects as a stepping stone to get where they want to be.
Ways to stop a cat from jumping on worktops
Whilst I believe as a cat owner it is unfair to scold your cat for sitting on windowsills within your home, there are certain places, such as kitchen work surfaces where it is unhygienic and potentially dangerous for your cat to go. The following methods act as effective deterrents without causing any long term distress to your cat:
1 Try securing either bubble wrap or silver foil to the area where you do not want your cat to go. (Cats hate the sensation of both of these under foot!)
2 Using a plant spray, gently spray your cat with water when he is actually in the place where you do not want him to go. There is no need to chastise him verbally when you do this. You want him to associate the forbidden area with the unpleasant sensation of the water spray - not your voice.
3 Soak a cloth in eucalyptus oil and leave it on the forbidden area.
4 Provide some kind of indoor climbing frame for your cat so he has a place where he can jump and climb freely.
5 Make sure there are no scraps of food left on kitchen work tops that may be tempting for your cat.
A more detailed description of all of the methods outlined above and more can be found on the House Training Kittens page of my Looking After Kittens website. All of these methods work equally well for adult cats as they do for kittens.