By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 12 November 2011)
All cats should be provided with a scratch post and trained to use it (see Why Cats Scratch Furniture and Carpets) for scratch post training tips). However, some cats have a strong preference for scratching the furniture and many cats like to jump up on kitchen counters, tabletops, and other surfaces that owners prefer to keep cat-free.
Hitting or yelling at cats for engaging in problem behaviours is a bad idea, as it can lead to anxiety and aggression. It’s far better to use harmless deterrents to break bad habits so that you don’t have to watch over the situation all the time.
To keep cats off surfaces such as countertops, cover them with carpet runner or car mats (bumpy side up) or Sticky Paws tape for a week or two to break the habit. Most cats dislike walking on sticky or pointy surfaces, and after one or two attempts will usually begin to avoid the area. When the habit is broken, the tape or carpet runner can be removed.
There are also more high-tech deterrents available, such as the SSSCAT motion-sensing device. This deterrent emits a startling burst of air when the cat comes near (the SSSCAT retails for approximately $24).
For more cat articles, see the main Cats page.