If you have a cat who loves climbing on your furniture, you will want to do all that you can to break this habit. Especially if you have just invested in new furniture, or you have a high-shedding breed that cannot help but to deposit lots of fur everywhere they go. So, what can you do to keep your furniture cat-free? How long will it take before your cat stops climbing on your furniture? And what else do you need to be aware of? Well, today, I am going to be covering all.
So, how can you train a cat not to climb on your furniture? You can train a cat not to climb on furniture by offering alternative places to climb. Cats need to climb and jump, so it’s a matter of redirecting their behavior rather than trying to stamp it out entirely.
Best Way To Train A Cat Not To Climb On Furniture
Cat trees are the most effective means of stopping a cat climbing on furniture.
When it comes to cat trees, the Frond Modern Cat Tree is my standout option and recommendation.
It provides three customizable perches, doubles up as a scratching post and is a great convenient size.
Best Ways To Train A Cat Not To Climb On Furniture
The best way – and the easiest – to train a cat not to climb on furniture is to provide suitable alternatives. In addition, cats who love snacking can get their tidbits from sources other than the kitchen counter, and if all else fails, you can try environmental deterrents.
Provide Dedicated Climbing Furniture
In the wild, cats climb trees and leap over long distances to hunt for food and escape danger.
It’s only natural for our domesticated cats to try and satisfy these climbing and jumping instincts, even when they’re inside.
One of the most effective ways to deter your cat from climbing on the furniture is to offer them an alternative, such as a Frond Modern cat tree.
Cat trees provide endless hours of entertainment as well as a safe place to rest and observe the world from up high.
Cat trees, such as the Frond model mentioned above, often have the central pillar wrapped in something your cat can scratch, such as sisal rope.
Your cat needs to scratch as well as climb, so having one piece of furniture that serves both purposes can be quite practical.
The advantages of a cat tree like the Frond Modern are:
- A wide base for stability, with optional feet so you can use them or not depending on your flooring
- Movable platforms
- Plenty of places to scratch along the central pillar
- Looks beautiful, so it will suit many home décors
If you have a large home, you may want to provide a cat tree (or similar) in each room so that your cat always has an approved space to climb.
Another option for climbing furniture for cats is a “playground.” Playgrounds are very much like cat trees, but they emphasize opportunities for play and discovery to maintain their physical and mental health.
The Milo Modern Cat Tower is an excellent option here.
They are great for indoor housecats.
Whichever option you choose, placing it next to a window will encourage your cat to use it often since cats love watching the world outside from a high and sunny spot indoors.
Provide Hungry Cats With Alternative Ways To Snack
If your cat is used to climbing on furniture to get crumbs of food or they want some treats, provide them an alternative way to get their snack fix.
Here are a few things to try:
- Feed your cat several smaller meals throughout the day rather than one or two large meals (this is better for their digestive tract).
- Use hunting toys that you can fill with small amounts of kibble. This encourages your cat to use natural hunting instincts to get food. This fish bone is absolutely ideal. The fabric holds the scent of the catnip (provided) for an active playtime.
- Keep counters and other surfaces clean and free of food so your kitty won’t be tempted to ‘counter surf’.
Use Environmental Deterrents
Once you have put alternatives in place for your cat, you may still see them climbing on furniture and countertops.
Some persistent cats might require a deterrent to areas that you have declared off-limits.
A deterrent is something that your cat won’t like but that will not hurt it. Try things like:
- Putting sticky tape along the edges of the furniture (sticky side up) – your cat won’t like the feel of it on their paws
- Putting plastic carpet running along the surfaces of the furniture or countertops. Put it with the nubs facing upward to make the surface unpleasant for your cat
- Hanging towels from the edge of furniture or countertops so that your cat slides off if they try and jump up
- Balancing cookie sheets or baking trays on the counter or furniture. When your cat jumps on them, they’ll make a loud noise, so your cat will most likely not want to repeat the experience!
- Placing cotton wool pads soaked in an odor your cat doesn’t like (try citrus, pine, or cinnamon, all of which are known kitty deterrents)
Note: Avoid anything that can cause your cat stress, like spray bottles (which cats find frightening), pushing (your cat could get hurt), or yelling (which cats don’t understand). If you yell at your cat, your cat will associate the yelling with you, not with climbing on the furniture. The only result you’ll get is a broken bond with your cat, as they won’t trust you not to yell again at unpredictable moments. You will then have to work hard to regain their trust.
How Long Will It Take To Train A Cat Not To Climb On Furniture?
The amount of time it will take to train your cat not to climb on furniture depends very much on your cat’s individual circumstances and personality. Some cats adjust within days, while others need a few weeks: as long as they’re given alternative things to climb on, they will adapt.
Remember that cats love to hunt birds, and birds are usually found in trees.
Your cat’s instinct is to climb to find prey as well as get to high ground to jump on scurrying mice from above.
The more places you can provide for your cat to engage its natural climbing instincts, the faster the process will be for your friend to pick other places to climb besides your furniture.
Decide which places are acceptable for your cat to climb and which aren’t.
Curtains, tall bookshelves, window ledges and kitchen counters (which often have crumbs of food) are all natural temptations for your kitty.
Let other family members know how you are training your cat to climb elsewhere.
Notice we say ‘climb elsewhere’ rather than ‘not climb’ – it’s not possible (and even cruel) to expect cats not to climb at all.
Make sure the places where you let your cat perch are free from noise – it could be your cat leaps up onto your bookshelf to avoid noisy children or other animals at ground level!
Things to Consider When Training a Cat Not to Climb on Furniture
If you can’t buy cat furniture, you can try making something yourself. Whatever solution you choose, you’ll need to place it strategically. Some cats need additional encouragement to use a cat tree or another alternative for climbing. If you need to remove your cat from furniture, do it the right way so that your cat isn’t stressed or sees their behavior as a cause for a reward.
Place The Cat Tree Strategically
When you place your cat tree or other structure in your home, be sure to put it in the corner of the room, near a window where possible.
Put the cat tree in a room where you spend a lot of time, near a seat where you often sit. The closer it is to you, the higher value it has for your cat.
Encourage Your Cat To Love The Cat Tree
Most cats will take to cat trees quickly, but if you have a shy kitten or a rescue cat, they might need some additional encouragement.
Some cats need a day or so just to get used to the presence of the tree, as they might find it intimidating. If this is your cat, give them this time to adjust before you try to get them to use the tree.
If a day has gone by and your cat still isn’t using the tree, here are some things you can do to make the cat tree more irresistible:
- Rub the tree with fresh or dried catnip.
- Put some tasty treats in the nooks and crannies of the tree so that your cat gets a reward for exploring the tree.
- Make the tree more tempting by dragging a string or a wand toy over the platforms for your cat to hunt. Don’t just drop toys on the tree – make them move so your cat has to go for its prey!
- Let your cat scratch it, sleep on it, hide inside, etc. Don’t interrupt your cat when they’re enjoying the tree (unless you’re playing together). Let your cat know that this is their safe place that’s dedicated to them.
Remove Your Cat From Furniture The Correct Way
If your cat is on the furniture and you want to get them off, you’ll want to remove them gently. Here’s the best way to do it:
- Without making a fuss (so no sounds), gently pick up your cat and put them on their tree or in another play area or on the floor
- Be sure not to startle your cat, and don’t pick them up by the scruff of the neck (cats really don’t like this as they find it frightening and stressful)
- Don’t cuddle your cat while you move them, because they might see the cuddles as a reward for being on the furniture! Simply pick them up and put them down somewhere else, without making a big deal out of it
- Don’t look at your cat, speak to your cat, or offer any kind of attention while you move them – they may see that attention as a reward
- Be prepared to repeat this process many, many times until your cat gets the message. Remain patient and calm, because your cat can pick up on your emotions and you don’t want them to become stressed or upset, no matter how frustrated you might be feeling
- Remember that with repetition, success will come!
You Can Try A Homemade Solution
While this may not be as attractive as a purpose-built cat tree or a kitty condo, you can try making something yourself for your cat to climb on.
Try taping together strong boxes with holes cut out that your cat can fit through.
Cats love cardboard boxes, and you can place them wherever you like in your home and then replace them when they get torn.
Ideally, you would attach pieces of carpeting to the outside of the boxes to give your cat a scratching place.
Some cats prefer vertical scratching areas, while others like horizontal ones, so see what your cat prefers and build your kitty jungle gym accordingly.
Make your structure as tall as you can so that your cat has a view from 3 feet up or higher.
Be sure to secure it in place so there’s no risk of the tower toppling down, though!
Here are a few more things to consider for determined furniture climbers:
- Consider your cat’s motivation. Why do you think your cat wanted to be there? Is the furniture near food? Is it away from another cat, a dog, or a child? Is your cat expressing boredom or the desire to play? If you can determine their motivation for climbing, you can then fulfill that desire in a different way.
- Find workable solutions for everyone. Does your cat want to climb on the furniture while you’re making food or watching TV? If it’s watching TV, putting a cat tree nearby may do the trick. If it’s while you’re making food, find a solution that works for everyone. Maybe get another family member to play with your cat while you make food. If you live alone, it might be a case of restricting your cat to another room while you cook (but give them something to do or play with).
- Give your cat attention first. Is your cat after your attention? If so, perhaps you can have a play session with your cat before you have to work at the computer or do other activities that your cat can’t join in with. Maybe you can give your cat dinner before you feed the family.
- Use gentle redirection. Remember that whenever you see behavior you don’t want, try distracting your cat with something more interesting for them. Believe it or not, cats can be trained! It’s best to gently redirect your cat’s attention – unless they’re in harm’s way, of course.
If your cat has developed a tendency to climb all over your furniture, thankfully, there are some practical ways to stop it.
While you have a range of options, the best thing you can do is invest in a high-quality cat tree and promote it’s usage.
You should find with a more suitable and effective area to climb, there simply will be little need for your cat to jump and climb elsewhere!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.