in January, Petfinder held a live Q&A on Facebook with pet trainers Andrea Arden and Mychelle Blake. Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting some of our favorite questions and answers here on the blog. Read our FurKeeps Q&As here.
Q: We cannot keep our 2-year-old cat off the table! We have tried everything since the day she came home at 13 weeks (spray bottles, stern voice, putting her in her room, etc.), but nothing has worked. Any time we turn around, she’s up there.
We make sure she has food and water, play with her, pet her … but she still insists on being on the table. How do we break this habit, or is it even breakable at this stage? — Meg H.
A: This is a common behavior with cats who have an instinctual need to climb. Here’s what you can do:
Give your cat attractive alternatives
The key is to provide her with some alternative, higher-up places to go that are appropriate, such as a cat tree, or some shelving on the walls. Make the appropriate area highly attractive to her by rubbing catnip on it, feeding her dinner on it, petting and praising her on it, etc.
Any time you see her go onto the table, quietly pick her up and remove her to the appropriate area and then give her positive attention when she’s on it.
Make the table less appealing
Another thing you can try while you are working on training her to prefer the new place is to make the table a less attractive option. It’s a bit unwieldy for a while, but you get one of the plastic carpet runners that you buy in office supply stores and place it upside down on the table so the nubs are sticking up. Cats don’t enjoy walking on this and will avoid getting up on the table.
Sticky Paws is another product you can put on the table temporarily — it’s like double-sided tape that is safe for furniture and cats do not like the feel of it.
Mychelle Blake, MSW, CDBC Pet Trainer and APDT Deputy Director Las Vegas, NV