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I have rented an apartment, that has open area above the kitchen cabinets where the ducts and electric items are. Any advice what to put up to prevent cats from jumping from counters to top of duct work, then getting into trouble

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    Can you include a photo? I'm having trouble picturing the setup. – BrettFromLA Jul 4 '18 at 23:39
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    There is nothing to stop a cat from going where you don't want him to go...You can just pretend you don't care if he goes to that area, and he won't go. Cats, by definition, only invade areas you don't want them to invade XD – Mario Garcia Jul 5 '18 at 10:50
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    @MarioGarcia: So true... Actually the best way to force cat not to do something is to reliably pretend you want him to do that :) – running.t Jul 5 '18 at 11:38
  • In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this. Terry Pratchett Read more at: brainyquote.com/quotes/terry_pratchett_384583 – Stan Jul 7 '18 at 22:36
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There's really no point in jeopardizing your pet's well-being or health trying to find stuff to antagonize or repel it.

The answer is in your question. You must change the "open" areas into "closed" or "obstructed access" ones. Block the access to the areas you want undisturbed and unexplored.

The materials are many and varied due to availability and cost of your choice. Paper card stock or cardboard is inexpensive and easily made and positioned. Plastic or wood can be used with a bit more effort (and talent) to look good and is more durable.

Thumb tacks, staples, and painter's tape can be used for the duration of your rental to hold things in place that don't do much damage to the property beyond normal "wear-and-tear."

EDIT: If your cat enjoys the location, provide a limited access (with a box?) where your "room mate" can go to contemplate. You would limit access to the more safe and acceptable place of your choice away from the ducts and cables. A little experimentation will find a compromise you both can accept. Cats love to climb and view their domain. Let 'em.

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    "Time spent with cats is never wasted." (Sigmund Freud) – Stan Jul 7 '18 at 22:38
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Most of advices how to keep cats away from something includes either using water, some plants or something that smells bad to cats.

I believe using water guns or something like that wouldn't work in that case, but you probably could try using some citrus smelling substances like citrus air freshener if it is ok for you that your kitchen smells like lemon or orange.

The only thing you would have to keep in mind is that for sure you would have to use this air freshener regularly, perhaps using electronic air freshener with citrus refill might work.

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Use something that would discourage or repel the cats like a repulsive type of air freshener, like lemon scented fresheners.

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