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

How to Stop Counter Surfing

If you’d rather not have your cat on the counters but aren’t sure how to discourage the habit, here are some tips to teach him to keep four on the floor — at least in the kitchen.

Cats are fussy about what’s beneath their paws. Landing on double-sided tape, a product called Sticky Paws or aluminum foil can have them hopping off the counter faster than they jumped on. To keep the counters useful for yourself, apply the sticky, rough or noisy deterrent to a piece of cardboard or to plastic placemats that you can remove as needed.

I think the best method, though, is to reward your cat for staying off the counter. When you see him up there, pat the counter, say “down” or “off” and pick him up and put him on the floor so he gets the idea. Offer him a treat or toy once he's on the floor. Repeat consistently, and your cat will soon learn that patting the counter or table signals that you want him on the floor — and that staying down low earns him a reward. Eventually, the verbal command or even a look will be enough to get the message across.

Give your cat an alternative to the counter. He wants to see what you’re doing, so place a stool or cat post at counter height so he can watch from an acceptable spot. Lure him onto it with catnip or a treat and reward him whenever he’s there.

You may still like the idea of feeding your cat on the counter. If that’s so, just be sure to remove your cat and his food and thoroughly clean the counter with hot, soapy water or an antibacterial spray before preparing your own food.

Bon appetit!

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