Cats are amazing animals and pets, but there are certain surfaces we don’t want them on, such as counters, stovetops, TV stands, and even couches. If you’re trying to keep your cat off the couch to limit the cat hair where you sit, this article will be helpful to you.
I want to share the secret to keeping your cat off the couch. You’ve likely tried deterrents like sprays and unpleasant smells. Those can be helpful, but they don’t address the root cause and make the sofa an undesirable place for you.
Let’s take a look at the best way to keep your cat off the couch.
The Secret: Create a “yes” spot
You’ve determined you don’t want your cat on the couch. So what’s the alternative? Well, there should be an obvious spot you want your cat to go instead of jumping on the couch.
Jackson Galaxy has suggested that for every “no” there must be a “yes”. If you’re trying to teach your cat to stop doing something, that’s a “no”. But you must be able to give them something else to do instead; a “yes”.
It’s important to remember there is a reason behind most things your cat does. An action or behavior may seem senseless to us, but your cat has a purpose.
If you can determine your cat’s desire behind the action you want them to stop (e.g. getting on the couch), limit them getting their desired outcome through that action, and give them another way to reach their desire, you’ll fix most issues.
Here are the steps to follow to create a “yes” spot and stop your cat from getting up on the sofa.
Step 1 – Determine why your cat desires the couch
The first step to getting your cat to stop a behaviour is determining why they engage in that behavior. Remember, there is a reason for it.
For example, when a cat jumps up on the counter, the desired outcome may be to get food that’s on the counter, fresh water in the sink, or your immediate attention.
On the other hand, when your cat is jumping up on the couch, it’s likely to find a cozy spot to have a nap. Or perhaps to cuddle on your lap. If you’ve been trying to keep your cat off the couch for a while, they’ve learned jumping up gets attention, which all cats desire.
Alternatively, your cat may be jumping up on the couch so they can look out the living room window.
Pay attention to your cat’s behavior and determine what it is they’re after when they jump on the couch.
Step 2 – Create an equal “yes” spot
You may determine your cat likes to jump on the couch during the day to nap in the sun. Then it would help if you created a cozy spot in your living room where they can lay in the sun.
On the other hand, if your cat tends to jump up on the couch when you’re watching TV, it may be because they want to cuddle with you.
In this case, you may create a cozy spot for them next to where you normally sit or place a cat bed right on the couch. This will allow your cat to be on the couch without them getting cat hair where you and guests sit.
If your cat likes to sit on the back of the couch to look out the window, you may apply the same idea and cover that area with their blanket. You’ll need to reinforce that on the blanket is the only spot they’re allowed to be when on the couch.
If you have room, place a cat tree next to the couch and in front of the window, or between the couch and window.
Determine why they want to be on the couch, then brainstorm ways you can help them achieve that desire without them being on the couch.
Step 3 – Make their “yes” spot extra appealing
Whether it’s a cat bed that sits on the couch, one that sits next to the sofa, or a cat tree they can lounge on, it needs to be just as appealing as the couch is to your cat, if not more.
Put their favorite blanket in their “yes” spot, spray it with a calming pheromone spray, and give them lots of positive attention when they’re there.
You may even consider giving them a treat or two when they hop in their “yes” spot or leaving treats there for them to find.
Reinforce that their “yes” spot is a great place to be.
Each cat is different and will have their unique love language.
One of our kittens is very food/treat motivated, while the other loves every bit of attention he can get. For our food motivated kitten, treats work well as a reward. To reward our other cat, we talk to him, pet him, look him in the eyes, enthusiastically tell him he’s “such a good boy” in a loving tone, etc.
It will take consistency, but your cat will eventually associate their “yes” spot as a happy place without you having to reward them each time they go there.
Step 4 – Reduce the appeal of the “no” spot
Your cat has likely formed a habit of getting on the couch whenever they please. So you will have some training to do. They’re used to getting their desired outcome by visiting the “no” spot; the couch.
What’s important is that you don’t punish them for getting up on the couch by yelling or spraying water. And please don’t ever hit your cat.
If/when they get on to the couch, or parts of the couch you don’t want them on, they must learn they won’t get what they want there.
For example, if they like taking a nap on the couch, make sure they don’t get a chance to fall asleep there. That may mean gently taking them off the sofa and placing them in their “yes” spot or adding a deterrent (such as a sticky surface) that makes it uncomfortable for them to lay on the couch.
I use double-sided sticky tape on placemats so I can move the sticky surface anywhere I need to. And I don’t worry about damaging my furniture if the sticky tape doesn’t come off completely.
Here are the affordable placemats and tape I ordered:
If your cat is after your love, attention, and cuddles on the couch, make sure they don’t get any of that when they’re there (but plenty of it when they’re in their “yes” spot).
You don’t have to be mean to your cat when they’re on the couch. Simply limit the attention they get when up there. Then go overboard with love and attention when they’re not on the couch or are in their “yes” spot.
If you’ve placed them on their “yes” spot several times, but they just keep coming back to you. You might find success by completely ignoring your cat when they’re on the couch.
Be sure to consistently show your cat they don’t get what they want on the couch, but they always get a reward when they’re on the “yes” spot.
Step 5 – Add cat deterrents
If your cat has been getting on the couch for a while, there may be a stronger habit to break. In this case, a deterrent can be helpful.
You can try covering the couch in sticky placemats, or even spraying a blanket with a cat repellant spray and spreading it across the couch when you’re not using it.
Be careful with using essential oils. Many of them can be irritating or toxic to cats, and a health issue will be much worse to deal with than a few cat hairs on your couch.
Cat deterrents can be helpful, but they’re usually not effective when used on their own. Try combining a deterrent along with the steps outlined in this article.
It’s essential to be patient when training your cat not to jump up on the couch. You may have to try a few different methods before finding one that works best for your cat.
The most important thing is to consistently reward them when they’re in their “yes” spot and limit attention (but never punish) when they’re on the couch. With patience and love, you can successfully train your cat not to jump up on the furniture.
You may also find the tips in How to Keep a Cat Off a TV Stand (What finally worked for me) helpful, as well as the other tips shared in How to Keep a Cat Off (all) the Furniture.