Jackson Galaxy is a bona fide cat whisperer. He's the host of Animal Planet's "My Cat From Hell" and coauthor of the forthcoming Catification — he knows what makes our feline friends tick.
I recently spoke with Jackson about a topic that has plagued me for quite some time (and if you're a fellow cat owner, it's no doubt plagued you, too): how to keep curious cats off our kitchen counters.
Why do cats jump up on the countertops?
Jackson explained that cats see our countertops as socially significant places. You're there, you're doing interesting things, and cats want to know what's going on. Plus, of course, that's where their food comes from!
Step 1: Training Tools
Is keeping cats off the counters a lost cause? Definitely not! Jackson said to try using double-sided sticky tape on the areas of your counter where cats tend to jump; cats don't like walking over the sticky tape. You can mount the sticky tape on a placemat or something similar so you can remove it when you need to use the counter; just be sure to always replace the mat when you're done using the counter.
You can also try rigging up a motion-activated air blaster, like StayAway. When the cat jumps up on the counter, they get a little blast of air that makes them back away and jump down.
Step 2: A "Yes" for Every "No"
Training tools are only that: tools. To actually get your cat to stop jumping on the counter, you need to be active in the "training" part.
Jackson's biggest philosophy when training cats is this: For every "no," you also need a "yes." If you say "no" to your cat being on the counter while you're making dinner (or any time!), you need to make sure to also give them a safe "yes" place. Jackson says to designate a specific spot in your kitchen, like a nearby chair or a cat tree, where it's okay for your cat to be. Give them treats when they are there so there's positive reinforcement for the new behavior.
Jackson also cautioned that "you have to make sure everyone in the family is on board with this. Consistency across the family is crucial." Make sure your whole family knows the rules and is on the same page with reinforcing them, and then make sure both the training tools and the rules are in place 24/7.
The Final Word on Keeping Cats off Counters
"Be consistent, and provide yes's for the no's," said Jackson, "That will fix the problem."
Want More Cat Advice from Jackson Galaxy?
Keep an eye out for Jackson Galaxy's new book, out October 2014!
- Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat by Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin, available on Amazon