Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?

Does your cat look at you before he knocks something off the table? He probably just wants attention. Dirk Ott/Shutterstock

If you have a cat, odds are your kitty has knocked glasses, knickknacks and other items off virtually every surface in your home. It may seem like your feline friend is simply trying to annoy you, but while you may be part of the reason why your cat engages in this activity, there’s more to this behavior than meets the eye.

The hunting instinct is one reason your pet takes a paw to everything from paperweights to picture frames.

Cats paw at objects just like they would prey, so your cat may toy with the glass on the edge of the counter simply to hone her hunting instincts and see what happens when she gives it a bat.

“When your cat nudges a small, stationary object with her paw, she's practicing the same behavior,” writes veterinarian Dr. Ellen Whiteley. “Your cat's instincts tell her that paperweight or knickknack could turn out to be a mouse. Her poking paw would send it scurrying, giving her a good game (and possibly a good lunch).”

However, after a few good batting matches with an object, your kitty is smart enough to learn that your treasured collectibles aren’t rodents. So why does feline friend keep testing gravity? Because it gets your attention.

Keep your cat entertained

If your cat is bored — or if she wants to alert you to the fact that it’s feeding time — then a surefire way to get your attention is to do what has proven to work in the past. And that means anything that’s not nailed down may end up crashing to the floor.

To keep your kitty happy — and protect your belongings — feed your cat on a regular schedule and make sure she’s receiving plenty of stimulation.

In addition to giving your cat with plenty of toys to keep her entertained, you should play with your kitty. Also, provide scratching posts, hiding and climbing places, and a space where your cat can simply sit by a window and observe the outside world for a little mental stimulation. You may also want to consider adopting a feline playmate.

If your cat isn’t adequately entertained, she’ll find her own sources of amusement, which means any items left on the table could become her new toys.

Another way to keep your belongings safe is to simply put them out of reach or move them to lower shelves where they won’t break should a curious kitty come along. If you want to display collectibles that won’t survive a trip to the floor, put them in a glass case to keep cat paws at a safe distance.

Watch a mischievous kitty at work in the video below.

Why Pets Matter to Treehugger

At Treehugger, we are advocates of animal welfare, including our pets and other domestic animals. The better we understand our cats, the better we can support and protect their wellbeing. We hope our readers will adopt rescue pets instead of shopping from breeders or pet stores, and will also consider supporting local animal shelters.