Can This Minty Scent Really Keep Cats Off Of Countertops?

Cats are loveable balls of fluff (most of the time, anyway). However, sometimes they have a tendency to get in the way, including when they hop up to sit on your kitchen counter. Not only does this practice mean that your cat is in the way, but, if you're cooking or trying to prepare food, having a cat nearby isn't the most hygienic of practices. That's where peppermint oil comes in. The minty scent is thought to keep your cats off your counters while making your kitchen smell good, but it could have serious negative repercussions for your precious feline friends, like seizures and even liver failure.

The reason you need to keep cats off the counter all comes down to cleanliness. Cats walk around regularly, which means they pick up all sorts of germs on their paws (not to mention the ones from their litter box). If your cat then hops on the counter, they are transferring those germs to where you cook. Of course, you can clean your counters, but it's best to prevent the issue from becoming a thing sooner rather than later. However, using peppermint oil to achieve this is something you should think twice about.

Essential oil is a dangerous cat deterrent

Cats are known to dislike the smell of peppermint, which is why it's thought that using peppermint oil might deter your cats from wanting to sit on your counters. The easiest way to do so is to combine a few drops of peppermint oil with water and stir well to mix. You can then pour the mix into a spray bottle for easier dispensing. While this method will work due to cats wanting to avoid the smell of peppermint, we don't recommend using it. 

Though it may be effective in that it keeps cats off your counters, using essential oils around pets is generally a bad idea. Many essential oils are harmful to cats if they ingest, inhale, or get any of the oil on their skin and paws. Although essential oils might seem like a natural and therefore safe deterrent to use for your cats, felines lack the liver enzymes required to metabolize and eradicate them from their bodies. If you're leaving peppermint oil out on the counter or spraying it in the air, your cats will likely come into contact with it and possibly suffer serious side effects like the ones mentioned above. It can also lead to burns on their skin, difficulty breathing, and vomiting, so the potential benefit of using the oil is far outweighed by the health risks.

There are safer options to keep your cat away

Instead of using peppermint oil, an alternative way to keep your cat off the counter that's also safe for your cat is to have a dedicated spot they can perch on when you're cooking. We recommend using treats when your cat sits in their new spot so they take to the system faster. If you can, a cat bed or cat play area would be best in terms of distraction, but a stool placed near the counter while you're cooking would work just as well.

Additionally, making sure your counter doesn't have any food on (where possible) goes a long way. Left-out food or even a half-opened pack of cookies is a major draw for a cat on the prowl. Obviously, this can't be done when you're cooking, so just keep your cat stool and some treats nearby to distract your cat during testing times. The above methods are far better than risking the health of your cat by using peppermint oil.