Perplexing cat behaviours
Cat behaviour is both wildly entertaining and, at times, perplexing. But one thing cat lovers do know is that kitties crave spaces with bird’s-eye views to observe their world – you know, like kitchen benchtops. But if you’re trying to keep foods toxic to cats away from your little lion, or you’re just fed up with constantly cleaning your kitchen to get rid of cat hair and little pieces of cat litter, here’s how to keep cats off benchtops for good.
Why do cats like to climb on benchtops?
It’s a curious conundrum: Why do cats like to hang out on our benchtops in the first place?
“Cats are both predators and prey, so being able to survey their territory from above keeps them safe from predators and allows them to spot prey to catch,” says Samantha Bell, a cat expert. That’s understandable, but domestic cats don’t have to catch their food, and they certainly don’t have to worry about predators, so why do they like to be up on the benchtop so much?
“Benchtops are so attractive to cats because they’re up high, sturdy, right in the middle of the action and full of food,” Bell says. (Which may be one reason your cat licks you when you’re making a meal – it smells food on your hands.)
Your actions can reinforce this benchtop-jumping habit. If you pet and talk to your cat while it’s on the benchtop, it’ll quickly learn that this is a place where it can get attention, says Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD, an animal behaviour scientist with Purina. “Many cats will jump up on the benchtop just to be close to their human family members,” she says.
Can you train a cat to not be on your benchtops?
Absolutely, but there are two vital cat facts you should know when it comes to how to keep cats off benchtops, Bell says. To start, you can’t extinguish instinctive behaviours, like climbing high to be near the action.
Furthermore – and this is a biggie – punishment doesn’t work. In fact, it can even cause cat anxiety and destructive behaviours.
Here are a few ways you can teach your kitty to stay off your benchtops for good.