Ask the Pet Expert: Keeping cat off counters

July 18, 2014|By Kim Fernandez, For The Baltimore Sun

My 3-year-old cat keeps jumping on my kitchen counters and I really don't want him there. A friend suggested a shock mat, but I'd rather not do that. Is there a kindler, gentler way to train him to stay off the kitchen counters?

You're wise to be cautious of things like the shock mats, because they can cause an already-skittish animal to become so turned off that they avoid the area altogether. Similarly, squirt bottles or yelling can convince her she doesn't want to be near you — but that the counters are safe when you aren't around. If you catch her in the act, calmly pick her up and put her on the ground without speaking to her or even making eye contact. Purchase some carpet-protecting mats (smooth on one side, pointy feet on the other) and trim them to fit your counters. That will make the counters unpleasant for kitty to jump on, but not scare her or cause her to associate the discomfort with you. Then, figure out how you can fulfill the curiosity that got her onto the counters to begin with in some way that makes you both happy.

For starters, she was probably lured up there by the smells of food and the opportunity to gaze out the window. Be sure the area is cleared of feline temptations, and set up a comfortable gazing area nearby. A cat tree near a window that is baited with tasty treats can work wonders. Make her time on the floor or in appropriate places more fun with extra toys, games and time with you. Don't forget to think vertically and give her lots of climbing spaces and cubbies all around the house, especially near windows.

This week's expert is Amie Glasgow, CPDT-KA[, head trainer and behavior consultant with the MD SPCA. Send your questions to sun.unleashed@gmail.com.

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