Whether you are the proud owner of a cute new kitten, or the servant of a gorgeous well-established old puss-in-boots, all cats love to climb. From curtain railings, to neighbour’s fences and your pristinely clean kitchen and bathroom benchtops, most cats will let curiosity get the better of them when it comes to climbing.
If your cat’s antics don’t bother you and kitty is not placed in immediate danger, there are many health benefits to climbing for cats. Not only will your cat enjoy the rigorous exercise involved in getting up high, it can also do wonders for their mood, particularly if they are timid and need space, or inquisitive and want to observe their surroundings from a great vantage point.
However, if you’ve invested in a luxurious new high-backed leather lounge, or you’ve found a rogue cat hair in your lunch for the last time, you might want to curb your cats’ habits!
Just as we would with wayward toddlers, distraction is a great way to deter unwanted behaviour in your feline friends. You can purchase or make a fun cat stand or tree that will give your cat a permissible space to scratch, climb and snooze. Make sure that your stand offers plenty of nooks and crannies for rest and play, and cats love different textures, so opt for one with carpeted mezzanines or cushiony blankets for curling up in.
Most cats get jumpy at the element of surprise. They like what they like, and they are staunchly against what they don’t. If you really don’t want your kitty climbing on your food preparation bench, try sticking some double sided tape along the perimeter. You cat will most likely loathe the sensation (whilst not being hurt or frightened) and avoid the area in the future. You can use this technique for curtain rods and books shelves as well. Bear in mind however that some cats are particularly determined, so you may have to keep replacing the tapes for a few weeks to really get the message across. If double sided tape doesn’t work, we’ve also heard of patients using ice, puddles of water or Velcro to have the same effect. For very stubborn cats there are static mats that can be placed on bench tops and other surfaces, however these should only be used as a last resort.
Most cats do not like loud or intrusive sounds. Just think back to those hilarious YouTube videos we’ve all seen where a cat is startled by a loud sound and they literally jump three feet in the air! Whilst we would never advocate you terrorising your fluffy bundle, if you are sure you can’t have your cat climbing in certain areas in the house, you may have success with noise association. Party whistles, loud clapping or even a shaken can of rocks can create enough noise to stop your kitty in his tracks, creating an association between their behaviour and the noise they dislike. There are also commercial products that have aerosol or noise devices attached to a sensor that will startle a wayward cat. You will have to be vigilant for this technique to work and success will be prolonged if you work away from the home for extended hours, because, well, that’s when your cat is going to do whatever he pleases!
We do not recommend the use of spray water bottles or high pressure water jets – your cat does not like to be sprayed and although he may associate the climbing with the negative reaction, he may well associate it with YOU instead, leading to distrust and resentment in your relationship. Stick to kind ways of changing his behaviour and positive reinforcement when he’s doing the right thing and you may (and we stress MAY, because we are talking about cats after all!) have some success!!