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How to Train Cats to Stay off Counters, Tables, and Furniture

Good cat training tips can be hard to come by! Learn how to use cat alarms, spray bottles, and noisemakers to train cats to stay off counters and furniture.

The cat’s independent and sly nature makes cat training complex, and unlike dog owners, many cat owners are not familiar with effective pet training methods. However, cat training alarms, spray bottles, and homemade noisemakers make it easy to train a cat to stay off the kitchen counter, dining room table, or couch.

Psychology and Methods for Cat Training

The key to cat training (or dog training, for that matter) is to provide positive feedback in the case of desirable actions while providing negative feedback for undesirable activities. So when training cats, it’s essential to praise “good” behaviors while offering an unpleasant consequence for “bad” behaviors. In cat training, examples of a humane but unpleasant consequence include a spritz from a water bottle or a loud, sudden sound created by a cat alarm or noisemaker.

When a pet owner starts a cat training effort, it’s essential to be consistent. Every time the animal performs a negative action, the owner must offer up negative stimuli; every time the cat exhibits positive behavior, the pet owner should reward and praise it. The more consistent the owner is with the cat training effort, the faster the cat learns a new thing or breaks a bad habit, the better.

Cat Training Using a Cat Alarm

A cat alarm is an effective pet training aid. A cat alarm is a small battery-powered device placed on a kitchen counter, dining room table, or another surface where the cat is not permitted. The cat training alarm is activated by motion and by vibrations. Once activated, the alarm emits a shrill tone; the cat finds this tone unpleasant and jumps off the counter or table.

Cat training alarms are particularly effective since they provide consistent negative stimuli when the pet exhibits an undesirable behavior (like walking on the kitchen counter.) The cat training alarm is usually more effective than other training aids since it can offer negative stimuli every time the catwalks on the counter, even when the owner is not present. Other cat training tools like a spray bottle are less effective since they’re only useful when the owner is present.

Cat training alarms are widely available at pet shops and online.

Noisemakers and Spray Bottles for Cat Training

A water-filled spray bottle can serve as a useful cat training tool. Whenever the cat exhibits undesirable behavior, the cat receives a squirt.

A simple homemade noisemaker can also be effective, particularly when training a cat who enjoys the water. For example, fill a soda can with coins and shake the can when the catwalks on the counters or table.

Notably, it’s vital to work on one training effort at a time. For example, if the cat is getting spritzed with a water bottle for several different behaviors, this can confuse the animal. Instead, focus on training the cat to stay off the kitchen counter; pet owners can begin a new training effort for the dining room table once the cat has been trained to stay off the kitchen counter. Solve one behavior at a time to avoid confusion and frustration for both cat and owner.

It’s also important to note that the negative stimuli should be unpleasant, but they should never be frightening, painful, or extremely distressing. A cat with a history of abuse may experience severe distress in reaction to a noisemaker, thereby making it an inappropriate training tool for that particular cat. Frightening the cat is counter-productive in terms of cat training, and it can seriously damage the cat’s sense of trust and security.

Offering Positive Stimuli in Cat Training

In addition to discouraging negative behaviors, pet owners must reward and encourage good pet behavior. For instance, if the cat enjoys sitting on the kitchen counter, the owner can offer a new cozy cat bed instead. Then, the cat should be rewarded by offering cat treats, praise, and attention while he’s sitting in the new bed.

Pet owners should also pay attention to the location of the object that’s the center of the training effort. For example, perhaps the cat is sitting on the dining room table because he’s afforded a good view of the yard. In this case, installing a window-mounted cat seat provides the pet with a comfortable and more appropriate perch.