How to Keep Cats off the Dinner Table

Two Methods:Providing AlternativesDeterring the Cat

Cats have a natural instinct to climb to high places and get a good view of the area. Unfortunately, this tendency sometimes brings them to places they aren't supposed to climb, like the kitchen table. If your cat has been climbing up on your kitchen table and you can't get him to stop, there are a few methods you could try to discourage him.

Method 1
Providing Alternatives

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    Get indoor cat furniture. Since cats naturally like to climb, you shouldn't try to discourage your cat from climbing altogether. Instead, give him alternatives to climbing on your table and counters. A good substitute is "tree" style indoor car furniture. These usually have perches and platforms for your cat to jump onto, which will satisfy the natural desire to climb. As an added bonus, they are usually coated with carpeting to make them a comfortable resting place for your cat.[1]
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    Make an alternate area attractive for your cat. Your cat might gravitate towards the kitchen table because he finds it comfortable. Counteract this by making another area more appealing. In addition to buying specialized cat furniture, you can take a few steps to turn a different area in your cat's favorite.[2]
    • Rub catnip on a certain area to attract your cat to it.
    • Place your cat's food in the area you want him to go.
    • Play with your cat in the new area. Pet him and give him praise so he learns to associate the new area with good feelings.
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    Feed your cat more. Cats often roam around looking for food, which can lead them to kitchen tables and counters. If your cat keeps going up on the kitchen table, he may be searching for food. You can counteract this instinct by using a few different techniques to feed your cat.[3]
    • Try breaking up your cat's meals into several feeding times throughout the day. The continuous supply of food will help keep your cat's hunger satisfied and he won't roam around looking for food.
    • You could also try free feeding your cat. With this method, you simply fill your cat's bowl at the beginning of the day and allow him to eat whenever he wants. This could also help keep him satisfied so he doesn't roam. Closely monitor your cat's weight, however, since free access to food could make him overweight.[4]

Method 2
Deterring the Cat

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    Avoid leaving any food out. An easy preventative measure to keep the cat off the table is to take away his reason to go up there. If your cat is roaming around because he's hungry, finding food on the table or counter will reinforce his reason for going up there. Don't leave any food out. That way, he'll learn that there's nothing to eat up there and may gradually stop going up on his own.[5]
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    Place lightweight cookie sheets on the edge of the table. Punishing the cat yourself when he goes up on the table probably won't get the desired result; he'll probably just end up afraid of you, not the table. Instead, make the environment punish him so he finds the area undesirable. One way to do this is with lightweight cookie sheets.[6]
    • Place the cookie sheets along the edge of the table. That way, when your cat jumps on the table, he'll knock them over. The resulting loud noise will startle your cat and he'll learn not to jump up on the table.
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    Place plastic carpet runners on the table. These usually have plastic bumps on the bottoms to provide traction on a carpet. Place the runner upside down so these bumps are facing up. Your cat won't enjoy the sensation of walking on this and should gradually stop going on the table.[7]
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    Use double-sided tape on the table top. Cats also don't like sticky sensations on their paws. A product called Sticky Paws serves this purpose. It is sticky enough to stay in place and get your cat's attention, but not so sticky that it will damage furniture or your cat's paws. Place this on your table to discourage your cat from venturing up there.[8]
    • Remember that if you don't use a specialized pet product, the tape might be too sticky and you could hurt your cat and damage your furniture. Always test out the tape before using it to make sure it's not too sticky.
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    Investigate other commercially available deterrent devices. There are a few specialized deterrent devices available in pet stores. In addition to these do-it-yourself methods, you can look into some devices to help keep your cat off the table. Remember to use all devices as they are intended and ask your vet or a pet store employee if you need any suggestions.[9]
    • The Snappy Trainer acts like an upside down mouse trap, but is much weaker and won't hurt your cat. Any touch will cause the device to shoot up in the air, which will startle your cat and keep him off the table.
    • The SSSCAT is a motion sensing device that shoots out a blast of compressed air when tripped. This blast will scare your cat away from the table or anywhere else you don't want him to go.
    • The ScanMat is a plastic sheet that holds a static charge. When your cat steps on the sheet, he won't like the sensation of the electricity on his feet.


  • If you do find your cat on the table or anywhere else he's not supposed to be, don't shoo him away or push him off. Instead, just pick him up gently and place him where he's allowed to be.[10]


  • Never hit or physically discipline your cat in any way. No good will come of that. Not only will you hurt your cat, but it won't even correct his behavior; instead of learning what he's not supposed to do, the cat will just learn to fear you.

Article Info

Categories: Cat Training | Managing Cat Behavior