How to Keep a Cat Off the Furniture (you haven’t tried this)
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When we bring a cat home, there are so many pieces of furniture for them to explore. From the dining table and even kitchen counters to dressers and couches, cats want to check everything out.
Whether you don’t want cat hair in certain areas or you’re tired of them knocking personal items off your dresser, there are many reasons not to want your cat on the furniture.
It’s not as simple as spraying a scent cats find offensive or telling them to get down. If it were, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
Let’s look at a more effective method to explore.
Step 1 – Find the Purpose
Why does your cat want to get up on a piece of furniture? If you can figure out their motivation, it might be easier to keep them from going near pieces of furniture or use a deterrent more effectively.
For example, your cat may jump up on:
a dresser to look out a window
the couch to sit with you or for a comfy spot to nap
the dining chairs or table to search for food
a desk because there are lots of fun things to knock down and play with
your bedstand because there’s always a fresh glass of water there
Your cat may have learned, through repetition, that jumping up on a piece of furniture is the best way to get your attention.
Cats don’t care if the attention they get from you is good or bad. They simply want attention from you.
If they find the best way to get your attention is by jumping up on a piece of furniture, it’s worth it to them. Every time they jump up there and you tell them to get down, you’re reinforcing their bad habit.
Look at the piece of furniture you’re trying to keep your cat off of and brainstorm why your cat may want to get on it.
What do they gain by jumping on the furniture, or what “reward” have they gained in the past through that action?
Step 2 – Remove the Reward
Now that you’ve determined the “reward” your cat gains by jumping on a piece of furniture, you must remove it.
cover the window with paper so your cat can’t jump on the dresser to look out the window
don’t make the couch a cozy, quiet place for them to nap
never leave food on, or around, the dining table; not even a crumb
remove small items from your desk
stop keeping that glass of water on your bedside table
stop reacting when your cat jumps on a piece of furniture
If your cat can no longer find what they’re looking for, that piece of furniture will be less appealing to them.
Step 3 – Reward your Cat Away from the Furniture
Cat behaviour guru suggests that for every “no” you have for your cat, there should be a “yes”.
Think about the reward your cat has gained from a piece of furniture. How can you provide them with that same reward in a way that makes you happy?
For example, give your cat:
A great view out another window by placing a cat tree or cat hammock there.
A comfy, cozy spot for them to nap during that day that’s not on the couch.
A treat or special meal they get to enjoy after you have dinner so they don’t feel the need to jump on the table to find something new and exciting to eat.
Plenty of toys to play with in your office so they’re not tempted to look for them on your desk. You may also incorporate play breaks so they get lots of playtime with you throughout the day.
A cat water fountain that you clean regularly and refresh daily so they’re no longer interested in your water glass.
Plenty of attention throughout the day so they don’t feel the need to jump up on something to get it.
You’ll have to get creative and really think about what your cat wants through their “bad” behavior of getting up on a piece of furniture you don’t want them on. And then how you can give your cat what they want in a way that also pleases you.
Remember, you chose to bring your cat into your home. You must compromise in some way.
Although you may not want a cat tree in front of your living room window, it may be the only way to keep your cat off the back of the couch.
Your cat probably prefers to sit on the comfy couch to look out the window; you prefer no cats on the couch. A cat tree or perch in front of the window is a compromise you both make.
Step 4 – Deter (if needed)
Cat deterrents rarely work on their own. If it were as simple as spraying vinegar around the house to keep cats out of certain areas, there wouldn’t be endless products and help articles created to keep cats away.
However, cat deterrents can be helpful when you’re training your cat.
Some cat deterrents you may find helpful are:
Ssscat is a good deterrent when you have a stable surface to place the can on. I’ve also found, it works best in well-lit areas. It’s motion-activated and will shoot a short burst of air when your cat gets near it.
Double-sided Sticky Tape
Cats don’t like the feeling of stickiness on their paws. So double-sided sticky tape can help deter them from some areas.
I like to put the sticky tape on placemats so they can be used in different areas of the house as a deterrent, they can be easily moved for cleaning (or when hosting), and I don’t have to worry about the sticky tape potentially ruining the finish on a piece of furniture.
If you have a flat surface, a Scat Mat may be another option. It’s a mat with hard plastic spikes. They won’t hurt your cat, but they will make it uncomfortable for your cat to walk on.
The benefit of deterrents is that they ensure you don’t have to be the “bad guy”, always telling them to get down. They simply make a piece of furniture less desirable to cats.
They also help deter your cat when you’re not home, not in the room, or have your back turned. Consistency is key so your cat doesn’t think sometimes it’s okay to get on the furniture and sometimes it’s not.
Don’t just create a “punishment” for your cat (e.g., a can of Ssscat that shoots them with a burst of air). Create a reward and or alternative for your cat.
Training your cat to stay off a piece of furniture they really want to go on takes work. Don’t expect your cat to change their habits overnight. Especially if they’ve been building them for a long time.