Your Burning Questions

Your Tips for Dealing with a Curious Cat When Cooking

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline—it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge—and to keep the conversation going.

Today: How to deal with curious cats in the kitchen. 

Shop the Story

We here at Food52 love cats—like, really, a lot. Behind most every adorable meow or purr, though, lies a curious cat ready to pounce without a whisker of thought (or a flick of its tail). Playfulness isn't usually a problem—except in the kitchen. If a cat's interested in what you're cooking, they're usually up to something fishy.

Over on the Hotline, UhOhSarah has a cat conundrum. "I basically can't leave anything unattended on the counter or table for even a moment," she says, and wants to know what training tips or kitchen hacks you have to fend off hungry felines. Here are your suggestions for stopping cats from going ham on ham—or anything else. 

  • Jilhil concedes there are only two options for dealing with a jumpy cat: eternal vigilance or surrender.
  • Meaghan F finds a squirt bottle to be “the only thing that keeps my cats off the counter when I'm cooking seafood.”
  • Garlic Fiend suggests investing in child safety locks for stove knobs, saying, “I have a friend whose cats climb all over the place when she's at work and actually turned on the gas on the stove.”


  • Pegeen suggests placing a couple of metal baking sheets or pie plates around the edges of the counter. When the cats step on them, they will skitter at the noise and the surface's instability. Garlic Fiend says aluminum foil will also do the trick, too.
  • Line the counter with large pieces of packing tape, sticky side up. When the cat steps onto it, “it will freak out like a devil is stuck to it,” hardlikearmour says. You then have to, of course, catch the cat and remove the tape.
  • ClaireSmith suggests using SSSCAT, an unscented spray can with a motion detector that deters cats with an odorless and stainless spray.

How do you keep a curious cat from causing kitchen peril? Tell us in the comments below!  

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jacqueline Schick
    Jacqueline Schick
  • Bridget Pertlicek
    Bridget Pertlicek
  • Molly Baldwin Ingram
    Molly Baldwin Ingram
  • sofia whitman
    sofia whitman
  • Aliwaks
I fall in love with every sandwich I ever meet.


Jacqueline S. March 11, 2018
Of 4 cats (and others over 37 years of marriage), only one has become a "counter cat" and that in his old age. I have trained the cats at an early start "NO!! Get DOWN" whenever they encroached the counter. But, they all circle my feet in a rather small kitchen. So, I have also trained them that they will get a share - it might be the egg residue from beating eggs, or a bit of meat after its cooked, a piece of cheese. That's all they really want. NOW when it comes to extensive holiday cooking - well, vigilance and safe-guarding is the order of the day - and pick off the cat hair on the tablecloth you set in the beginning of the day before you started cooking!
Bridget P. March 11, 2018
I put pennies in an empty soda can and shake it whenever I see him going where he shouldn’t. The sound startles him and he jumps down. It has cut down on the behavior such as jumping on counters.
Molly B. June 16, 2015
Spray bottle of water. The good big kind from restaurant supply. You get plenty of range when you set it on stream, and it's also handy for bread baking and getting grumpy kids out of bed.
sofia W. June 15, 2015
One of my cats, the bigger one, is always interested in what's cooking but I've learned that if I feed them right before I start cooking he doesn't bother me for the most part
Jacqueline S. March 11, 2018
Generally that is the order of the day - feed the complaining cats and then start dinner! At least M-F.
Aliwaks June 15, 2015
The kitchen counters are the only place in the house the cats don't go-my biggest problem is they swarm me while I'm cooking-- my teeny tiny 4 pound Persian weaves between my feet- usually when I am carrying a dutch oven full of boiling hot water from stove to sink.-my kitchen has no doors, there's really no hope.
Charles W. June 15, 2015
They make a tape that is sticky on both sides. Put it on the counters. After a few times stepping on it, the cat stops jumping up there. I got it from a pet supply store online, don't remember where. It stopped my cat from jumping up on my bookcase and knocking my alarm clock off.
Chuck June 14, 2015
We used absolutely every trick in the book. Spray bottles don't help if your kitty doesn't mind gettin wet (one of ours is known to hop in the shower with us from time to time). Vinegar in spray bottles leaves your house smelling. We finally found SSScat and they work amazingly—we now have three. You can use most any brand airduster can as a refill and they keep the cats out. In a pinch, we can just replicate the hissing noise of it and it will often send the cats running.
Lisa M. June 13, 2015
Start training them early and often to stay off tables and counters. For a few years we had supersoakers and water guns stashed all over the house. And on the rare occasions we fed our cats table food, it was always done away from the table long after the meal or cooking process. Begging was never accepted.
David C. June 13, 2015
For some reason, our cat goes on everything except the kitchen counters. She was even on the fride one time at our old place! I think she'll figure it out eventually. We use carpet runners set upside down (spikes up) to keep here away from stuff though.