How to train your cat to stay off the counter

orange-white-cat-on-counter-1-300x300

By Emily Bruer

If you’ve ever had a cat you likely have had to deal with them jumping on the counters. While this may not particularly bother you, it can be annoying and (let’s be honest) unsanitary.

There are lots of theories about the best way to go about this, but many can actually damage the relationship between you and your feline friend. Follow the steps in this article and you can train your cat without breaking your bond!

Why is the counter so darned attractive, anyway?

Let’s start with the reasons behind why your cat wants to be on the counter in the first place.

Most cats are social animals and they enjoy the company of their two legged companions. What’s the best way for them to be near you while you’re in the kitchen?

That’s right, to jump on the counter, this puts them up high and closer to your eye level where they can easily get your attention and socialize with you.

The second reason is that cats enjoy being up high, where they can watch out for predators (or the family dog) and to hunt for prey (or treats). While our feline roommates don’t need to be on high alert for predators or prey anymore, they’re hardwired to like high places.

Now, for the training

While our cats may be our fur-kids, they don’t understand our social etiquette and it’s our job to teach them in a way they can understand.

Buy your cat a tree to climb on – Not just any old tree, of course, but a specially made cat tree.

You can pick one up at just about any bricks and mortar or online retailer. You want to make sure the tree you pick has several different perches at a few different heights, especially if you have a multi-cat home. Keep in mind that some cats prefer perches with a horizontal spread, while others like high vertical towers. 

Food training – Once you have the tree all set up, you can begin training your cat. Many cats will simply prefer their tree to the counter, so you may not need to do any training at all. But if you find your kitty is still counter surfing, it’s time to get out the treats.

Cats can be finicky eaters, so you may have to try a few different high value treats before you find one she likes. My cat’s favorites are turkey, tuna, and sardines.

Start giving your kitty treats any time she is on her cat tree while you are in the kitchen. This will cause her to begin associating her cat tree with the yummy treats you are providing!

Any time you catch her on the counter gently pick her up and place her on the floor and then ignore her until she jumps on the tree.

Eventually she will begin to understand that when she jumps on the counter you remove her and ignore her, but when she jumps on the cat tree she gets lots of love and yummy snacks.

If that doesn’t work – If you have been trying this method for a few weeks and still haven’t noticed a marked improvement, the next step would be to add something the kitty doesn’t like to the counter – double sided tape.

Line the edges of the counter and places she likes to sit with double sided tape. The feeling of the tape on her paws will be uncomfortable and she will eventually get the idea that it’s not fun to sit on the counter.

This method of training is a great one for kitties, as the harsher ones (like squirt bottles) can cause fear and negative associations with you. Creating fear in cats is the last thing you want to do, as in extreme cases it can cause aggression and urinating outside of the litter box. (It’s also not a very nice thing to do to your little buddy.)

So stick with these tips, because with the right tools and some yummy treats even the most stubborn cat can learn to leave the counters to the humans and hang out on her tree!

********

emily-bruer-pawedinEmily has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

How to toilet train your cat

cat-on-toilet

By Emily Bruer

Do you hate cleaning the litter box every day? Are you sick of finding litter all over your house? Do you have trouble masking that pervasive litter box smell? If so, it’s time for you to toilet train your cat.

While toilet training a cat may sound difficult (especially because they don’t have opposable thumbs), with the right tools your cat will be out of the box and onto the pot in no time!

1. The first step in toilet training your cat is simply moving the litter box into the bathroom. This will get your cat used to going into the bathroom to do his business and it will get him used to the noises and sounds of toilet flushing and the shower.

If your cat’s box is already in the bathroom skip to step 2. If not, wait a week before moving on.

2. Before you move to the toilet phase, you will want to get your cat transitioned to a flushable litter like a grass or corn litter. You will want to slowly transition your cat to the new litter by slowly mixing it in with the current over the course of a week. Every day take out a scoop of the old and add in a scoop of the new until only the new is in the box. 

If you were already using a flushable litter, skip to Step 3.

3. This step is the messiest, but don’t give up yet! For this step you will need either an aluminum roasting pan or a Litter Kwitter.

If you chose an aluminum roasting pan you will need to duct tape it to your toilet and cover any gaps with plastic wrap, then fill the bottom of the pan or the Litter Kwitter with the flushable litter.

It’s likely that your cat will get litter all over the place during this stage as she is jumping up and potentially trying to dig more than she needs to.

Move to step 4 after about a week.

4. Cut a small hole in the center of your roasting pan or remove the first section of the Litter Kwitter. Be sure there is still litter surrounding the new hole as having no litter will confuse your kitty.

Give her about a week to 10 days to get used to this and then move on to step 5.

5. Cut a slightly larger hole in the center of the roasting pan and remove the second section of the Litter Kwitter. You will leave it like this for about a week to 10 days, and then repeat. Continue cutting and removing pieces of the Litter Kwitter until the hole is the same size as the toilet’s opening.

Proceed to Step 6.

6. Now that there isn’t any litter left in the pan (or the Litter Kwitter), you can remove either apparatus and let your kitty use the toilet.

Keep in mind during this process that your kitty may have accidents or struggle a bit. If you find your cat is struggling don’t be afraid to go back a step or two until she is comfortable.

No one wants potty time to be stressful, and if your cat is too stressed out by her new potty arrangements she could develop bad habits. If your cat is older, getting steps that lead up to the toilet can be helpful as arthritic joints may have trouble jumping up. Getting a toilet seat cover that has some texture to it can help as well. Be sure to always leave the lid up after toilet training your cat or she will likely have accidents.

While some cats take quickly to toilet training, others can take a little longer, so be patient. Toilet training in a multi-cat household can be a bit of a challenge, too, so don’t be afraid to wait a little longer between steps. If you cat is extremely skittish, she may never adjust to using the toilet. In that case, try out some of the covered or auto-cleaning litter boxes that are on the market.

With a lot of patience, a little luck, and some dedication your kitty could be the next toilet trained sensation in your neighborhood. Good luck and never give up on your feline friend.

********

emily-bruer-pawedinEmily Bruer has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.