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Positive Cat Parenting™

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Behavior Modification

A cat is more intelligent than people believe, and
can be taught any crime.

Mark Twain
Notebook, 1895


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Surf's Up - Cat Counter Surfing Solutions


What is it?

Counter surfing is usually fun for cats. On counters, cat find bright new, shiny objects are just right for pushing off onto the floor, smells that are out of this world, even old spills from last nights dinner, faucets that are dripping fresh water to drink or bat. 

Cats climb and like to be up high so why shouldn't they jump up on counters, tables and other furniture. They are just being normal cats! 

However, you can learn how to encourage behaviors you want and help your cat decide to stop behaviors you don't want such as counter surfing!

Select a treat that will keep your cat's focused attention. Teach your cat when he or she is very hungry and relaxed. 


Why is this a problem?


Unaware cats have been known to jump up on to a hot stove.  Not to only mention burning fur, have you considered what chemical residues from cleaning might be lingering on the counters, or in the sink?


Not only is it unsafe for cats to jump on counters, it is not sanitary after they have been walking in the litterbox or outdoors.


Body massage not only teaches the cat that hands are good things,
it also teaches the cat to allow people to take charge and control any part of his or
her body during routine grooming, exams, treatments, lifting or moving the cat.


What to do


If your cat is counter surfing in hopes of finding a dripping faucet as a preference to drinking out of a bowl, either wash the bowl daily or provide a pet water fountain for fresh flowing water.

Cats like to be up high to survey territory and explore. Provide your cat an indoor cat tree and encourage climbing there by placing cat nip and treats there. Drag a cat toy up the tree to give your cat the idea and help your cat adopt this new climbing and resting option. Consider placing the cat tree near a window unless outdoor stray cats tend to hang out within sight which may aggravate your cat.

Then make counters unappealing by covering them with tin foil or bubble wrap or sticking tape so your cat will not enjoy being there. You can also place empty soda cans with pennies in them along the edge of the counter that will fall and make a big noise to discourage hopping up on the counter.

The idea is to change your cat's perception of good places to climb and places that are no longer fun or friendly such as booby trapped counters.

Teach your cat to come when called, sit when asked and your cat will get more into a groove of learning to repeat behaviors that get rewarded as an alternative to behaviors that are ignored or result in unwanted consequences. Be sure YOU are not the unwanted consequence. Do not attempt to punish, scold, or yell at your cat as a teaching method. You want your cat to be motivated to learn from you and enjoy being with you.


Learn methods that use brains not brawn!  

Teach good behavior using food lures

Similar to a fishing lure, a food lure moves your cat into positions you want to teach.

Start with a hungry cat!

ut a tasty morsel of food in your hand and place your hand in front of your cat's nose to capture your cat's attention.

backwards slowly. Does your cat follow the lure?  If so,  say, "Good Kitty.- Come - Good Kitty" as you move back then after a few steps, release the food as the reinforcement.

Begin using the word, "Come," or whatever specific word you choose every time you call you cat to you. Only use this word when your cat is very close and you are sure your cat will comply. As soon as your cat looks at you - praise. Praise you cat for any response. Try to say the cue word once and use praise to encourage the completion of the behavior.

Behaviors are more likely repeated when they "earn" your loving attention and result in what your cat wants and values  such as getting fed or lovin'. This is why cats respond to the sound of a can opener or learn to meow for food and attention. 


Learning and using gentle methods builds your feline's intelligence and trust and keeps learning a positive experience.

If your cat is doing ANYTHING you wish he or she didn't do, or is not responding to the simple lesson above, then consider making an appointment with a Veterinary Behavior Consultant based on a  Pet Behavior History Analysis.
The Analysis helps you understand why your pet acts in certain ways and what you can do to improve your cat's behavior at home using gentle, easy, proven methods.

"Helping you raise a fabulous feline friend for life."

Improving Relationships between Pets and People!

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