How do you stop cats from climbing everything like Mt. Everest?

Having foster kittens was a great lesson in always wearing sturdy pants, because they inevitably scaled right up them, digging in those tiny claws. And then came the chairs. And the curtains. Even after they grew up, there was always somewhere higher that they aspired to. But it’s not always the best idea for them—or in your eyes either. So how can you keep cats from doing parkour in your entire house?

Here’s a few tips.

Cats want to sit as high as possible because traditionally, and in the wild, high places give cats a great vantage point from which they can see approaching predators or prey. But it might also be because they are bored or stressed.

Climbing and scratching are natural cat behaviors that can be safely assuaged by having a cat tree. These come in all price ranges and are not that difficult to make yourself. See for example this video from the Home Depot:

It’s true that cats can engage in negative behaviors seeking attention
just like your kids do. How to solve this? Set some specific play time to engage with them an keep them mentally and physically exercised. Laser pointers, cat dancers and crawl tubes to play hide and seek will give them alternatives to rappelling up the nearest kitchen counters.

Tactile deterrents like double-sided tape or aluminum foil on surfaces are unpleasant for cats, as are certain scents like lemon or lime juice, or perhaps some springs of rosemary.

Since your cats don’t speak the common tongue, so shrieking at them to get down is somewhat less than helpful. Also like your children, you may try to redirect them—physically remove them from what they are not allowed to climb on and move them to something they can, like their own cat tree. Treats for good behavior might help as well.

If your cat keeps climbing after you’ve addressed some of these other points, think about the possibility of stress. What happens before they go racing up the back of the closet? Are they having issues with another pet or person in the home? Is it only when someone starts the vacuum?

What other signs of stress are present—are they eating the same, using the litter box the same, or has this changed too? If you can solve this riddle, then taking steps to reduce their stress may help solve the climbing problem as well.

With consistent training, your cat will learn what is appropriate to climb and what isn’t.

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