Why does my cat knock things over?

There is no denying that cats are uniquely entertaining and inquisitive creatures with mischievous streaks that tend to continue long after their kitten days. These little rascals will go on the prowl for any source of diversion. Often resulting in broken items and shredded valuables within our home.

One behaviour that drives cat owners absolutely nuts is their determination to knock things over at any opportunity provided. It would seem, the messier and noisier the better. So, why does your cat seem to have an incessant fascination to knock and topple things over?

  • It’s a whole lot of fun! Gravity can be unpredictable and curious cats love to knock things and then watch to see what will happen. They delight in the fact that liquids and solids act differently. If they are able to smash a glass or vase, the resulting loud ‘Smash!’ and unexpected production of glass shards is an added bonus.
  • Following their instinct. Some experts believe that their love of pushing and shoving objects is hardwired and linked to their strong prey drive. Think of it as a form of practising or ‘honing their skills’. Their paws are very sensitive to touch and pressure and they relish the opportunity to practice their hunting whenever possible.
  • Attention seekers. What do we tend to do when we hear a bang or see our cat inching towards an object on a table ready to knock over? We react almost immediately; shouting loudly or rushing over. To a bored kitty, this is just that bit of excitement and attention that they need in their life. The fact that the attention is negative doesn’t seem to matter to most.

So, what can be done to stop this acting out and keep our possessions safe and intact?

  • As this sort of behaviour is commonly associated with boredom, we need to ensure we are providing our kitties with plenty to do. Not only to ensure they are exercising enough but also so that they are being sufficiently mentally stimulated. While every cat is an individual and will have different likes and dislikes, most are quite keen to play with food puzzles, especially if the treats inside are strong-smelling. Another fun game is ‘hide the treat’. This involves hiding a few pieces of kibbles or dried treats around the room in which they spend most time. Finally, why not offer some catnip for an hour or two, to really hold their interest and keep them well and truly out of trouble. For more ideas of games you can play with your cat >
  • It’s time to ‘toddler proof’ the home. If your house is filled to the brim with trinkets and ornaments, they may simply prove too tempting for an inquisitive cat. Consider displaying them in a cabinet or keeping them in a room in which the cat does not go.
  • Rein in that reaction. This may well be the hardest step to follow as it is only natural to react when our cat knocks something on to the floor. If you hear a loud bang or see your favourite photo frame fall to the floor, it’s time to take a deep breath and count to ten. Remember, your cat may well be waiting for your reaction. If you resist the temptation, they will soon lose interest in this little ‘game’ of theirs.
  • Avoid punishing your little tiger. Punishing a cat can result in stress or anxiety but may also be ‘fuelling the fire’ for those attention seekers.

While we may not be able to avoid every little accident or mishap, there are lots of things that can be done to protect our favourite possessions.