I need some clever ideas to stop this behavior. There's three of them and they reinforce one another's bad behaviors. I'm really getting tired of the counter-surfing because they do it when I'm around and when I'm not. It's become bad enough that they welcome themselves to jump on the counters and steal food WHILE it's being made, whether it's their food or mine. They're also becoming extremely aggressive about it and inhale the food, figuring that it's worth being put back down or put in the bathroom. They're not starving by any means. These are well-fed cats, but they're complete brats.
I've tried basic things such as putting them inside the bathroom for up to 20 minutes when they jump on the counters, but the very first they do when I let them back up is dash into the kitchen and jump back up on the counter! And even if one stays off, another jumps up so the other thinks it's okay. This trade-off counter hopping goes on every 5-10 minutes, and I have work to do and can't keep getting up or hovering over the counters to put them in their crate or bathroom every single time they jump up on the counter.
I've tried squirting their paws, as well, but this doesn't do anything because they'll be back up on that counter in 5 minutes.
I've tried tin foil paper and it doesn't affect them. I've ever tried citrus sprays, which they seem to enjoy, and sprinkling peppers which has only affected one for a few moments and then he ignored it again.
I've also tried putting low-top pans full of water all along the counters and edges so if they jumped up they'd either end up walking in water or flip over the pan and land back on the ground, wet. If water is low, my cats are not bothered by walking in it and the flipping of the pan did not seem to transfer the act with the result enough to them and after a week, I was tired of coming home to wet floors.
I even tried putting tape upside down along the edges so it'd get stuck to their paws, but again, they can't seem to associate that jumping on the counter equals these negative things. They seem completely dense.
I keep my counters very clean, but it's a hassle to obsess over it everytime I make food when I can't even sit down and eat a warm meal if I have to clean the counters immediately after the food is done just to keep them less interested in going up there.
I'm out of ideas and could use some.