Is It Bad to Let My Cat Eat on the Counter?

Cat on counter
Your cat may enjoy being up high on the kitchen counter, but that doesn't mean you should feed him from it.

I can tell you one thing: Your cat will probably think you’re a purr-ific owner if you let him chow down on the counter. Cats love to be up high where they can see everything that’s going on; it helps them to spot food when they’re in predator mode or feel safe from attack by other cats, dogs or alien birds from outer space when in prey mode.

But that doesn't mean that it's a good idea to let your cat eat on the counter.

Pros and Cons of a Cat on the Counter

Let's start with the pros of having your cat eat his meals on the kitchen counter: the exercise factor. Assuming you have a young, healthy cat, requiring him to jump three feet into the air is one way to help ensure that his muscles get a workout at least twice a day. It also keeps cat food out of reach of inquisitive dogs or other cats who maybe aren’t capable of jumping that high.

But even if Mr. Whiskers thinks you’re the cat’s meow for putting his food in such a cool place, other people — your mother-in-law, for instance, or your finicky next-door neighbor or immunosuppressed friend — may not be quite so comfortable with your cat walking around on the counter. And with good reason: No matter how pristine you keep your cat’s litterbox, it’s still a repository of fecal bacteria and you really don’t want that tracked onto your food preparation area.

That's not the only reason to make the kitchen counter a no-felines zone. Encouraging your cat to jump on the counter to eat also means he’s more likely to jump up to check out your food as well. That roast chicken you set out to rest before carving? How does your cat know it’s not for him? Well, he doesn't, and that can be a problem, particularly if he sinks his teeth into something dangerous like garlic or onions.

I’m a fan of feeding cats up high, but the kitchen counter is not the best place to do it. A better choice might be on top of a washer or dryer (but make sure the buzzer will never go off or the fluff cycle start up while your cat is eating). If your cat can access this surface without jumping on the kitchen counter, it can certainly meet his needs for exercise and for privacy when he's dining.


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