Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?

why do cats knock things over?

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a cat owner.

Sometimes I wonder though “why do cats knock things over?”.

Of all the questionable (and sometimes annoying) things my cat does — including plopping down on my laptop when I’m in the middle of an email or bringing a dead rodent inside the house — this has to be the one thing that drives me crazy the most.

While it can sometimes be amusing to see my cat knock things over, when they start to break expensive items (such as my kitchen appliances, dishes, or heirlooms) I often get upset.

But, should I be reacting this way? Is my cat knocking things off the counter or kitchen table for a reason?

While I once thought the reason behind this behavior was pure boredom, I did some digging into the question at hand, — “why do cats knock things over?” — and found it might be deeper than that.

In this article I will share what I found and how you can put an end to cats jumping on your counters or tables, breaking your things, and causing a mess. 

Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?

A lot of cats’ weird behavior can be explained by science, but this one leaves us guessing!

So, when looking in your furry friend’s eyes while you beg them to not knock over the water glass again, you may ask yourself: Why do cats want to knock things over all the time?

There are a number of reasons why your cat may knock your things over, and we will be exploring all of them below.

Keep in mind, though, some behaviorists believe there could be undiscovered reasons for this behavior.

why do cats knock things over?  cat knocking over things. cat throwing water off table.
Why do cats knock things over?

Your Cat’s Drive to Hunt

Cats are designed to hunt prey, which may explain your cat’s desire to knock things off a table or shelf. 

In order to analyze and explore their surrounding objects, cats use their paws to assess the situation.

Whatever movement, feeling, or sound made by the object lets your cat decide whether or not this may be safe or something that might want to harm them.

The pads on your cat’s feet are hypersensitive.

If they touch or knock something off a shelf, it helps them understand the safety of the objects and room around them.

Also read: Can cats eat strawberries?

How Should You React When Your Cat Knocks Things Over?

Cats will pay attention to how you react to their behavior.

Take note of how you respond when your cat starts to push a glass of water to the edge of the table. If your cat wants attention, they will quickly pick up what behaviors get your attention. 

If cats want something, they will always find a way to get it. This is usually a demand for food, attention, or play.

Since cats would rather receive bad attention than no attention at all, they can kickstart a reaction from their owners by knocking over something. 

As difficult as it may be, it’s best to ignore your furry friend when they decide to start knocking things over.

Just be sure to store away any breakable or valuable items.

do cats knock things over on purpose? how to stop cat from knocking things off table.
do cats knock things over on purpose?

Is Knocking Things Over Your Cats Way of Playing?

The only reason your cat may knock things over is for the simple joy of watching it fall.

This activity mimics the chase of prey with touching the object and being able to chase it when it falls. 

It’s best to schedule playtime with your cat everyday so they can expel some of their excess energy. Be sure to have an abundant amount of toys and switch them out periodically to keep things fresh.

If your cat is bored, they are likely to use that pent of energy for trouble. 

Ask yourself, are you meeting your cat’s needs?

Take a moment to assess your cat’s needs and whether or not you have met them.

If you took longer to feed them dinner, they may want to remind you that you need to feed them promptly.

Maybe you have the day off and haven’t given them any attention since you’ve been home.

Perhaps you’re spending too much time working or being on your phone (or other smart device) while your cat is around. 

While cats don’t always want your attention, when they do, they expect it at that very moment.

In these instances, your cat will try to do whatever they can to get you to notice them. Unfortunately, this may involve pawing and pushing something off the table.

In order to analyze the world around them, cats use their tactile senses to paw objects.

Be sure to combat boredom by switching out their toys to keep their interest fresh.

Puzzle toys or games that hide treats may be beneficial for your bored cat as well.

grey striped cat on table. tabby cat on table outside. cat knocking glass off table.

Do Cats Knock Things Over On Purpose?

These animals are by nature very curious creatures and they are constantly exploring and testing out their environment and surroundings.

But do cats knock things over on purpose though?

Yes, and no.

Cats are very much able to be clumsy and accidentally knock things over with their tail, despite their reputation of being agile and nimble animals.

They can be turning around or jumping and just by pure accident knock over a glass of water you had placed on the counter.

But, you may also be wondering about when they slowly push things over with their paws, even looking directly at you when doing so. Surely this is done on purpose?

Yes, they are doing it on purpose when they push things off tables slowly and deliberately.

First though, you must remember that a cat does not place any value on specific items like we humans tend to do, except maybe it’s own cat bed that it likes…

But a cat will not care if it is pushing around a 5000 dollar vase, as it has no idea how much it cost. To the cat it is just another object to push around and play with.

Cats sometimes have been known for demanding attention this way, even if it is negative attention they will receive.

If you are ignoring your cat in particular, you may just discover them slowly pawing at a glass of water to knock over, as if they are demanding attention and care from you.

A cat can very deliberately knock things over if it wants to, but the reasons behind them doing so may differ depending on the circumstance.

If they are exploring the object and knock it over from doing that, their intentions are different from when they are knocking things over just to grab your attention.

Cats do like to paw at some objects to explore them better, and to see if they would be safe to eat, or were to pose a treat or things like that. It depends.

How to Stop Your Cat From Knocking Things Over

You have a few options when attempting to get your cat to stop this behavior.

First, you’ll want to clear the surface in which they are interested.

Lets look at the best ways how to stop cat from pushing things off table…

white and black cat on table. cat standing on table with sunlight. cat and coffee on table.
how to stop cat from knocking things off table…

1. Ensure there’s nothing on the table or counter to grab your cat’s attention

The first step to keeping your cats off your table or counter is to ensure any objects that may attract them are removed from these surfaces.

This means anything that may attract your feline friend, including:

  • Centerpieces
  • Dangly items (keychains, necklaces/earrings, dreamcatchers, etc.)
  • Car keys
  • Table cloths
  • And anything that may flutter in a breeze

2. Add a deterrent

Adding a deterrent can help combat unwanted swatting of objects.

Some deterrents make a sound or small gust of air that are motion-sensored.

Since the deterrent will be unpleasantly automatic, your cat will not associate the negative stimuli with you.

You can also try Sticky Paws on a Roll (found in most pet stores) to deter your cat from being on the table in the first place.

This is more for keeping your cats from scratching your furniture though, but might also work to deter them away from your surfaces.

Here’s a deterrent I think works the best (and the best part is, it’s affordable!).

PetSafe SSSCAT Spray

SSSCAT from PetSafe is a safe deterrent spray that can be placed anywhere you don’t want your cat to be.

This means you can place it on your countertops, tables, and shelves to keep them from knocking things over. 

A few things I love about this spray is that it’s safe to use around your pets and family members, odorless, and doesn’t leave behind any residue or stains.

What’s more? Because it includes a motion sensor, it automatically goes off when your cat is within 3 feet of the can.

All it requires is a few AAA batteries and you are set. 

black and white cat with yellow eyes.

3. Distract your kitty

Another effective way to get your cat to stop jumping on your counters or tables is to distract them beforehand. 

Chances are, your cat is trying to get your attention.

So if you notice them when they are preparing to lunge, introduce a favorite toy instead. Even playing for just five minutes can help redirect your cat from the unwanted behavior.

If you’re a first time cat owner, and aren’t sure what cat toys work best for keeping your kitty occupied, try these suggestions:

  • Scratching post (also works to keep your cats from scratching your furniture or carpets)
  • Laser pointer
  • Feathers
  • Toy mouse
  • Cat charmer
  • Homemade toys (balled up tin foil or pieces of paper work great!)

You can also purchase toys for active cats, such as a cat exercise wheel, which can kill two birds with one stone by keeping your cat busy while helping them stay in shape and at a healthy weight.

4. Don’t give your cat the attention they want

As cat owners, it’s easy to want to give in and give our cats the attention they want, even if they’re doing something bad.

However, it’s important not to do this if your cat is knocking things off your tables and counters.

If your cat is getting in position to jump on these surfaces, you should try leaving the room.

If you react in any way (by either picking them up or saying something to them) you are giving your cat their desired attention, even if you react in a negative way. 

Be sure to remove any items that may pose a threat to your cat’s safety immediately. 

The Takeaway

As you can see, there are a few reasons why cats knock things over.

On one hand they might be simply bored and trying to grab your attention.

On the other hand, they might be expressing their need to hunt prey. 

Animal experts also believe that there might be other reasons cats knock things over that have yet to be uncovered.

In essence, cats sometimes behave in ways we can’t explain, and seem to have a mind and personality all of their own, and they very much do obviously.

With that being said, if you want to stop your cat from jumping on your counters, tables, or shelves, then it’s best to try the steps listed above. 

If you enjoyed this article, please check out our other blog posts all about feline behavior and facts to help you be the best cat owner you can be!

Also read: Do cats have a favorite person?


Author: Cathour

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *