Training Your Cat To Climb Safely

Many cats love nothing more than to watch the world from above. Unfortunately, they often like to perch where they don’t belong, like atop bookcases and dressers, where things can easily get broken. Training your cat to climb safely can be a challenge, but it is in his best interest.

Your cat could hurt himself by getting tangled on something while jumping from the chair to the dresser, or by leaping onto an unstable plant stand.

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training your cat

Keeping Your House in Order

When training your cat, here are strategies to manage your cat’s natural need to leap.

Remove the Launch Pad

Observe the route your cat takes to reach the dangerous location. If your cat can get onto a high bookcase by leaping from a nearby chair, move the chair. Without this launch pad, it will be much more difficult for your cat to reach his perch.

Place Obstacles Along the Path

Strategically placed potted plants or large books can work wonders in keeping cats off shelves and dresser tops. Make the area less attractive as a destination. My cat Marty likes to sit in the same spot on the back of the sofa or love seat, eventually causing a permanent dip. To deter him, I put decorative pillows or a cover in the spot and he will avoid it.

Consider a Window Perch

You can put a window perch together quickly, and they’ll give your cat hours of entertainment — especially if you place a bird or squirrel feeder in the yard outside the window. Make sure the window is locked and reinforced so your pet won’t fall out or try to leap out.

Does your Cat Have Spots To Hang Out that Have Some Height?  

Many cats like to survey their territory from above, so consider a cat condo or cat wall shelves that will give him the option of height while remaining safe.

Changing Your Cat’s Climbing Habits

Cats can be stubborn, so you might have to take more drastic measures to change his behavior. The key is to make sure your cat doesn’t begin associating you with the noise or sudden motion. If he does, he may become frightened or continue the bad behavior behind your back.

Here are some ideas to curtail your cat’s inappropriate climbing:

  • Use a noisemaker. When you see the cat start to climb, give a quick toss of a soda can with some pennies in it near your cat (not at him) then walk away. You want to make the consequence of this behavior unpleasant, not terrifying. Don’t startle him when he’s perched near something breakable. He might jump in fear, knock the object over and get hurt in the process.
  • Put aluminum foil on the furniture. The sound or texture will be unpleasant.
  • Buy a motion detector that sounds an alarm every time your cat enters the forbidden area. For best results, get one that resets itself after every use.

The overall goal is to find a balance between your natural need to keep plants upright, and your cat’s natural need to climb. Training your cat to climb safely will allow you and your cat to live together in harmony.

Written by Karen


Karen is Publisher of Fully Feline. She also owns a pet care business in Overland Park, KS called Joy of Living.