Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
Cats are famous for knocking things over. It doesn’t even have to be in their way! Why do cats have a knack for knocking things over?

There’s a joke that cats like to knock things over, even while they’re looking right at you. And it’s funny because it’s true. But why is it that your feline companion behaves this way?

Hunting Has a Lot to Do with It

Your kitty is a natural born hunter, and pawing at things around the house mimics the way that cats paw at their prey. Basically, if she paws at an inanimate object, your cat starts to gauge whether or not it’s safe, and whether or not it’s something that she can hunt. If it ends up moving (like a mouse would, for example), she would know that the chase is on.

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Unfortunately, though, it’s that pawing action that sometimes causes your favorite household objects to fall to the floor. Your kitty might even jump down to investigate further when this happens, but that might be harmful if the object shattered or it has contents that are dangerous to cats.

It’s Also About Getting Attention, or It Might Just Be Boredom

When your cat isn’t pawing at an object just to check it out and see if it will react, she might be trying to get your attention or trying to let you know that she wants to eat. This is especially true if she has knocked things over in the past and it has worked to grab your attention when you weren’t giving her affection or playing with her. But if she isn’t trying to get your attention, knocking things over might be her way of having fun if she’s bored.

Experts recommend feeding your pet on a schedule and enriching her environment to prevent boredom. Spending quality time with your furry friend should also be part of your routine, and you might even consider getting your kitty a feline companion to help prevent loneliness.

Related: Why Do Cats Like Boxes?

Another thing to keep in mind: if you think that your cat is knocking your belongings over just to get your attention, try not to react when it happens. This could be challenging, but it will teach your cat that her strategy no longer works and she’ll need to find another way to get your attention instead.

Keep Valuables Out of Reach of Those Paws

Now that you know a few of the reasons why cats like knocking things to the floor, you can take steps to prevent—or at least reduce—this behavior. First off, it’s a great idea to keep valuables out of reach so your kitty can’t break them.

Rather than scolding or punishing your pet, keep things positive. Redirect her attention, try giving her puzzle toys, start clicker training, and use strategies like applying double-sided tape to a surface to keep your kitty off of it. Also, spend time playing with your cat to help her release energy in a positive way, and give her safe toys to play with on her own as well.

While experts aren’t entirely clear on why cats like to knock things over so much, these explanations make sense, and they further prove just how smart your feline friend really is.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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