Cat Trainer Will Keep Them Off The Counters

Our cats are not allowed on the kitchen counters, and [Iron Jungle] has the same rule. But he spotted some foot prints on the hood above his range and the addition of a security camera caught this picture of [Kelso] breaking the rules. Since he’s not always around to make the fur-ball behave he built an electronic cat trainer to do it for him.

The functionality needed isn’t very intricate. You need to monitor when the cat is where it shouldn’t be and then chase it away. For the latter he grabbed an infrared range finder. When the cat passes in front of the sensor it will trigger the second part of the system: a high-pitched buzzer that’s extremely loud. Any microcontroller will have no trouble driving the system. In this case it’s a PICAXE 28X1.

You can see the trainer in action after the break. It definitely works, because just playing the video chased our own sleeping kitty out of the room.

18 thoughts on “Cat Trainer Will Keep Them Off The Counters

  1. Good idea, but… ouch! I don’t see any benefits, learning aside, in using a uC board plus a digital sensor instead of a much cheaper analog solution. An IR barrier made with a couple led+photodiodes pairs plus a CMOS chip that reads them and drives the buzzer would cost 1/20 the money and draw 1/100 the current.

    Don’t take this as negative criticism. The first logical step before solving a problem should be asking ourselves if the solution we’re thinking of is the best possible one.

    1. There’s always some analog guy that states his way is better. Sorry, digital projects like this are a lot easier for people without experience than an analog version of the same design.

      1. I don’t think the “analog” alternative he’s suggesting is much more complicated. He’s not talking about a bucket of components, more like a handful.

      2. Ok, even the “analog” system he mentioned above was more complicated than it needs to be. Two 555 timers, which are the simplest analog devices known to man could do this, and they cost pennies. Serious overkill to be using a uC…

  2. you can source a suitable high-frequency buzzer from an old (or new, but that’s an expensive way to get a piezo buzzer now isn’t it?) smoke detector. As sacrificial parts donors go, smoke detectors are right up there…

  3. I personally prefer the idea of a small electrical shock. It would only take 2 or 3 times of the cat feeling a zap for it to learn it’s lesson, and then it could be repurposed in training the wife to keep her hands off of the TV remote. :D

    1. I prefer electric shock too; using a cheap ionizer module to generate a startling, but harmless, static charge. Connect it to strips of foil to protect surfaces, a rod driven into the dirt of a potted plant, or even a defrosting Thanksgiving turkey. Simple and effective, as long as you can isolate the charged object from ground.

      The only time I’ve used sound is to keep my cats off my keyboard, which for obvious reasons, I didn’t want to attach a high voltage source to. And in my case, one cat was persistent, and soon learned to ignore any sound I used; including piezo buzzer-like tones, dogs barking, hissing, recordings of me shouting “NO! BAD KITTY!”, etc. What finally worked permanently was disharmonious harmonica playing at high volume, which apparently is just too awful to tune out. There’s a program called PawSense that does this for you. The program isn’t free, but if someone prefers to write their own simplified version, the example harmonica sound is free to download on their website.

      1. The ionizer I have my cats hate horribly. It isn’t just the static shock (only one cat out of three has felt it) its the smell. They seem to not like the excessive ion generation. Personally I like it and using a decent exhaust apparatus it reduces dust by a small amount.

  4. Even better is the Blender Defender. This uses a camera to detect feline misconduct, and sets off the blender (or vacuum) when the cat is where it shouldn’t be. The benefit of using the camera instead of IR is you get a (really funny) record of the cat making its escape. Be sure to scroll down on the page above for some amusing clips of his cat escaping.

    1. Except that you haev to live with the cat living in complete fear each time you actually use the vacuum or blender. I have two cats at home and they’re acclimatised to it now, they don’t really care about the blender or the vacuum… well… unless they try to sit on the roomba :)

    1. Yes! Doublesided tape works wonders. It doesn’t hurt the cat or make it fearful. They simply learn that walking where they shouldn’t give them sticky paws and they aren’t too fond of that.

      Remember if you use water, sound or anything like that, they will fear it. If you use a water bottle to “punish” your cat then have fun trying to bathe it.

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