Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?
Cats are strange creatures when you think about it. They make funny noises and do silly things for apparently no reason. They can also be demanding and will do almost anything they can to get your attention. Possibly one of the strangest, funniest and frustrating signs of this behavior is when they knock things over. Although this can be particularly frustrating if they break things or if the behavior becomes obsessive, it can be funny when it’s just the occasional harmless thing. Today we’ll be attempting to understand this strange feline behavior by looking at the possible reasons behind it. So, if you have a troublesome feline and you’ve been wondering “Why do cats push things off tables?” then you mind find the answer you’ve been searching for.
Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?
It turns out there could be a number of reasons for cats knocking things over. Since scientists and cat behavior experts are still learning about feline psychology, the foremost reasons for this behavior are theories. Although it’s easy to believe that cats knock things over simply to get on our nerves, this doesn’t seem like an adequate reason to cat researchers. While it might be the reason in some cases, this behavior is likely to be more complex which the following theories aim to explain.
- Searching for Food
One of the most popular theories which aims to explain why cats know things over is based on an evolutionary trait as cats are extremely inquisitive when searching for food. Amy Shojai, a cat behavioral consultant from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants writes, “Cats are hardwired to hunt for their food, so knocking things over may be a manifestation of this instinct.” In other words, if a cat is curious about an object and knocks it over, it could be because they’re searching for food.
- Feeling for Safety
Another reason which might explain this quirky behavior is simply down to curiosity. Now, we already know that cats are curious animals that like to explore new places and things, but that could be a reason for them knocking things over. As Shojai continues, “Cats use their paws to test and explore objects, and the movement, sound, touch or feel of the object helps them understand what might be safe or not.” Therefore, knocking things over or pushing things off a table could be a process of feeling for safety. This also explains why cats often push over items which they’ve never seen before as they are naturally inquisitive. So, if your feline friend constantly pushes things over or knocks items off tables or surfaces, it could simply be an instinctive need to check if items are safe or harmful to them.
If you notice that your cat likes to knock things over when you’re around but not when they’re alone, they could be doing it for your reaction. If cats learn that a certain action or behavior (such as meowing loudly or knocking things over) gains your attention, they could continue to it every time they want your attention in the future. Shojai explains this as “cats are incredibly adept at finding ways to manipulate what they want which often comes down to: Look at me, feed me, play with me.” So if your cat likes to knock things over while you’re around then they could be doing it for attention or because they think it entertains you if you react to it. Alternatively, if your feline friend knocks things over while you’re out of the room then it could simply be something that entertains them when they’re alone. Whether a cat is bored or tired, knocking things over could be a fun activity they do when they’re alone if they have nothing (or no one) to play with. If you think this is the case, placing a few toys in the room(s) where it happens could be enough to stop this behavior.
While this behavior can be interesting and funny at times, it has the potential to become frustrating or problematic if it happens increasingly often or if valuables are damaged. Any attempt to stop the behavior itself would require lots of training, using positive reinforcement, treats and regular training sessions over a long period of time. In severe cases, it might even require training from a certified cat behaviorist. Throughout this process, it’s important to stay calm and remember that, although the behavior is frustrating, cats don’t understand what exactly they’re doing. Animals also don’t respond well to aggression or extremely strict training so a patient and calm approach is necessary.
Don’t worry though, there is a much simpler and quicker method which can prevent this from happening. The most important (and effective) step to dealing with this behavior is to remove valuable or fragile items from a cat’s reach. By storing breakable items safely away, you can rest assured that they won’t be knocked over. If there is a particular item that your cat likes to knock over, try replacing this with a cat-friendly toy after storing the valuable item. This is particularly effective if you think your cat might be knocking things over for entertainment when they’re alone. Or, simply remove your cat from the room whenever you’re not there so they can’t cause unsupervised mayhem. Just ensure they have enough toys to keep them mentally stimulated and happy.
Now we know that knocking things over is a common kitty behavior that affects many pet parents. It can be the result of natural instincts to search for food or safety, for entertainment or to cure boredom. If you’ve noticed this happening and want to do something about it you now know what you can do in an attempt to stop it. Although it can be frustrating, this behavior is usually harmless as cats don’t necessarily know that knocking things over is bad. Through some training and switching things around in the home you can greatly reduce the possibilities of this happening again.