How do you keep your cats off the counters?
Honestly - I don’t.
I just wipe down the surface before I eat off of it or prepare food.
Cats love being up high as they are better able to observe their territory when looking down on it. It also serves as a way to get away from things they may not be so fond of - like dogs, children or other pets in the home.
Some people think heights help cats establish a (literal) hierarchy; whoever is highest wins. Since heat rises, it is also generally warmer up high - and we know cats like it hot.
It is instinctual for cats to climb. So let them. Have lots of perching places for you cats to climb and hide so they can watch their world from up high.
And if you’re worried about paws on your counters, just wipe down with soap and water before you eat.