Have a cat that won't stay off your counters? I do. I finally got fed up with it enough to do something about it: scare the crap out of him with a motion-detecting blender (while recording the results for my own amusement, of course).

Confused at what you're looking at? This is a repeating shot of security camera footage of my cat jumping on the counter - in search of a plant to munch on - and initiating my Blender Defender. Take a look at the following comic (Courtesy of Sarah) to get a better understanding :)

Videos

Sorry, but you're going to have to pretend you can hear an extremely loud blender while you watch these clips

The following recordings are the result of the Blender Defender being needed once again in January of 2011.. This time, however, we needed to keep one of the cats off of our bed. Why? Well, lets just say that she liked to go up there and... make... messes...

Instead of using the blender for this, we decided it would be better to use the vacuum cleaner, since it's louder and doesn't have to be close to the cats to get the message accross.

If you want to keep updated on when new videos of my cat are posted, make sure to subscribe to the RSS feed. All new videos that are added to this page will also put in the RSS feed.

Details

If you were to walk in my house, you may see something you dont normally see in a kitchen. On the wall, to the left of my sink is a webcam (network camera). It is plugged into the network jack and screwed into the wall plate cover, supporting itself. It doesnt get it the way, nor do we ever have to think about it. The camera is being monitored for motion by my computer upstairs in our office.

The camera itself is one of the cheapest network cameras out there, the DCS-900. It can be picked up for about $120 or so. There are a couple network cameras that are a little cheaper, but the D-Link one is pretty rugged and makes it easy to get into the raw feeds, something that cant be said for many other cameras.

As you can see from the videos above, the blender and the strobe light are both controlled by an X10 unit. The unit is sent an on or off command from the computer running upstairs by means of an X10 Firecracker. The Firecracker is just a wireless X10 transmitter that plugs into your serial port. I wont get into explaining it much here, but one thing to note is that is happily co-exists with my CM11A unit.

The computer upstairs is running the 'motion' library for linux. As soon as it detects something moving on camera, it starts recording frames. While it is saving frames, it also initiates another Perl script I wrote that sends an X10 command to turn on the blender and strobe, wait 3 seconds, then turn them off. After the script is done detecting motion, it then splices all the JPG frames together using ffmpeg and saves the resulting movie as a SWF file, which you can see above. Finally, after it saves the movie, I have it set up to email me a link to the movie so I can see the results from where ever I'm at (remotely by using my phone).

Is this cruel?

Of course not! To teach a cat not to do something, it has to get the idea that what it is doing is a bad thing. One way to do so is to sternly tell your cat 'NO' when it does something. The cat may learn that it is bad, but more often than not, the cat learns that it's not supposed to it when your around. This is not what you want. The best way to teach the cat not to get on a counter is to take yourself out of the picture. If the cat jumps up on the counter and is greeted with a scare, it will learn that the counter is not a very nice place to be. The cat is never harmed, but it's instincts tell is that this may be something to be feared. Just like a vaccuum. The cat doesn't like it at all, so it stays away.

Some will say that the cat is trying to eat the plant because he needs it for his digestion. In this case, it's just not true. Our cat doesn't simply eat our plants. He sees them as a toy. He plays with the stalks, digs them out, etc. We find leaves in the other rooms half the time. And, yes, he does get grass every once in a while.

Project Cost

The table below shows how much money would normally go into a project like this. This isn't to say that I've spent this much, as I already had everything lying around the place, but if somebody else were to start this project, this may be what they should expect to pay.

Item Notes Price
Strobe Light Bought from Spencer's 20.00
Blender Housewarming present, woot. 50.00
X10 Firecracker Check Ebay and Amazon if you're looking for one 12.00
X10 Appliance Module You wouldnt want a Lamp Module for this. 12.00
Network Camera D-Link DSC-900 120.00
$214.00

 

Comments

hello i dont think i can afford the camera at this time but i have a blender can you tell me more in detail how to set this up?

Thank you
danielle sprice
okay does any one have any common sense anymore way would you want to do anything like that 2 any animel. if you had a right mind you would agree. honestly they are just animels they don't know what their doing is wrong cause they don't know any better. they are like babies with a bit of a exploring mind their not going to know the differance between whats dangrous and whats not.animels are babies that never grow up. so we have to keep them safe. but also let them rome arouder because they have that freedom and they diserve it.
OK, but then how does it make you feel when the cat comes running straight to you for protection?
Brendan Robert
Pretty funny videos. Any form of reinforcement, positive or negative, is going to result with success but only if it is very consistent. Because you've automated it, it is extremely consistent. You might want to introduce some climbing spaces that are equally good places to be so your cat can get its climbing fix -- such as a vertical cat tower, warm window seat, etc. If the cat has places it is allowed to perch and is comfortable on, chances are that it will start to leave your stuff alone a little more.
Ty Tower
No credit for the creativity of this - Good job . I have been fooling with motion myself and trying to get my camera to record. You may have given me some insight into that . Its a bit different to windows approach using Digiwatch so I've not yet got a handle on it . Technically -well done .
I found setting a sheet of newspaper on top of mousetraps very effective at keeping them off counters and the couch. the paper avoids any injury to the pet, yet makes plenty of noise. I am going to implement this as well - great idea!
freefall322
Very cruel to kitteh! I must go now because someone turned on a blender next to me,
@Nabsico
Isn't putting a loaded gun in your face precisely what our law 'enforcement' officers do far too often?

This is more like installing an alarm system that sounds if you try to break in to a business to steal stuff. I haven't heard of any criminal suing a company for the stress they went through as a result of setting off a burglar alarm (but don't look it up, I'm sure some idiot somewhere has tried)....
Joe Mack
I'm not sure it's cruel, but, I'd never do such a thing to my Dog or Cat. I LIVE with the cat/dog hairs on my clothes and don't at all mind if they climb up on the sing. But, that's just me...
The best way to keep cats off the counter is don't let them in!! That being said, we have a cat in the workplace and I hate the hair, the cat prints on the counters and desks, the traces of kitty litter all over where their cat tracks are, and especially the litter box. You walk in the door and the smell hits you in the face. Why would anyone want to clean that??? Their feet are in the litter box kicking the kitty litter over their waste, then they get on the desk or in someones lap. Yuk!! Think of all those germs. It grosses me out!!!!!
Cruel? No, just lazy, and a ham-handed attempt for attention based off of trying to cash in on the fact that funny cat videos are still a form of humor thats in vogue. Congratulations, you've wasted 215 bucks and a bunch of time on something a normal and disciplined pet owner can accomplish without any gimmicks. Hope for the sake of society you don't have kids.
MichaelAtOz
I would remove the 5 second delay, proper conditioning should rely on a very close time correlation of the behaviour and the stimuli. With a delay your may be training for other behaviour such as walking on the counter top or sniffing the plant, rather than the jumping up which is your real issue. Although without the delay you don't get as good videos.
Train Your Cat
hahaha... that's cool... http://www.howtotraincats.net/train-cat-toilet
this is hilarious. i dont see any harm, the cat doesnt get injured, and for the wanna-be psychologist at the top, cats can definitely learn negative reinforcement, im sure if you gave the cat a toy that shocked the cat every time it touched the toy, the cat would eventually learn to not play with that toy...shhhazzammmm
Rosalynn
Cats are not like dogs when training. Dogs respond to both positive and negative enforcement training. Cats however only respond to positive (because they don't give an eff if you're mad at them). So although this works... it's because it's scared to death. It's not proper training. And I bet you it will become conditioned to it once it realized that nothing bad happens, it's just a loud sound. You should look up how to properly train your cat with positive enforcement.
Oh my god I am about to die laughing.

I have several cats, all of whom I adore, and all of whom are spoiled rotten. Which means they get on EVERY DAMNED THING, including the counters and my stove. Which, if they're feeling particularly snotty, they will pee on. Burnt cat pee is gross. (And before anyone says anything, yes the boxes are clean, in fact, I had JUST within the past ten minutes cleaned them and put fresh litter in them and NO, none of them have any type of infection. They're being Nugget Holes). Water doesn't work, largely because they are smart enough to not get on there when we can see them. Double-sided tape doesn't work. Citrus scent doesn't work (I wash the counters with hot water, then water & bleach, then a peroxide/vinegar/orange oil mix). Isolating the likely offenders (again, since I'm not *observing* them do this, it's a crap shoot as to who is the likely culprit) into a retraining kennel doesn't work.

They KNOW they're not supposed to get up there, obviously, since they won't do it when I can see them.

I am so going to have to do this.
TheModernZombie
Is shouting at cats too harsh? This depends on what is considered too harsh punishment for animals/pets. In order to find out whether something is too harsh punishment or deterrent, we must ask ourselves is a few questions. The first question we must ask ourselves is, "are there harmful chemicals near the item?" Antifreeze, for example, is one chemical which can kill your cat. I would not hesitate using this alarm system to scare my cats from the antifreeze. If using an alarm system contains "Intense fright and terror," it is not unethical to use introduce this alarm system to a very harmful or lethal object/chemical. Antifreeze, for example, has no odor, is tastes good to animals. This chemical, without human intervention, gives no signals to animals that it is a dangerous chemical, and by adding this alarm system to your hazardous chemicals, you could SAVE your cats lives. Lets face it, pets cannot read warning labels. Other places I would consider adding this system would be an area surrounding where you park an automobile. If you are a farmer, for example, keeping cats out of a tractor could save their life as well.

More questions to ask yourself are "how necessary is the system," and "is there a better alternative?" If the cat is able to get into food after getting on the counter top, even if you are not in the room, then it will be allowed to use such measures to deter the pet from getting food, for example, chocolate. If the cat would be able to get chocolate, and you have no either way to prevent the cat from getting the chocolate, then you ought to prevent them from getting the chocolate, as chocolate is a dangerous substance to cats. If the cat were to eat something special, break something special, or destroy expensive or important things, such as curtains or plants, then you may consider using the alarm system, if there is not a way to insure that this would not happen when you are out of the room as well as in the room.
This is a good idea. A cheaper solution would be to buy a motion sensor outlet ($12 on amazon) and a timer outlet ($7 on amazon), plug the blender into the motion sensor outlet, plug the motion sensor outlet into the timer outlet, and plug the timer outlet into the wall. Then set the timer outlet to turn on during the hours that you are out of the house normally. Also to the people saying "OMG this is cruel!" Really? I mean really? On no you scared the cat into not going somewhere. That's NOTHING like what animals face in the wild. Oh wait, that's exactly what happens in the wild and is therefor a logical approach to training them.
How in the world is this cruel? animals need boundaries just like people do... you know laws? in the wild they would have worked out their own boundaries and fought tooth and claw to keep them. some of you commenters lack common sense to a massive degree.
Kelly Lai
That is so cruel! If people like cats they won't harm them like that.
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Oh, and hi Jean!