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Why Do Cats Knock Things Over? It’s not Funny Kitty!

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Why do cats knock things over? We watch videos of cats knocking things off tables and other surfaces and it can seem really funny and somewhat naughty.

A few swipes, and the object is gone, over the desk edge and onto the floor.

Cats knocking things over is part of the exploration of their environment.

From a cat’s perspective, knocking things over can mimic their hunting instincts, making it a good game and even a possibly a good lunch.

Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?

How To Stop Cats Knocking Things Over

Why do Cats Like To Knock Things Over?

It is part of normal cat behavior to knock things over and our reactions, from outrage to delight, make no difference at all to the cat.

Knocking things over is not just clumsiness on their part, as our agile cats can expertly navigate around things.

1.Hunting from bygone days

Cats have instincts to hunt small prey, and when they attack, they do not kill they prey at first. Instead, they play with it and practice their hunting skills.

This behavior may translate to knocking things over, as the cat’s instincts may perceive objects as prey and practice their hunting skills by knocking them down.

So, the hunting instincts that cats have developed from bygone days may influence why they knock things over.

2. Playing

A similar thing happens with cat toys and with ornaments. The cat may half swat an ornament with poking paw to test for movement and then thwack it over the edge.

When your cat knocks an object, he wants to see if the object will bounce, jump or roll away so that they can chase it if it does just happen to show some movement.

If your cat likes to knock over their water bowl, a cat water fountain is a good solution.

Cats just about always have a quick look over the edge of the table at the object they have just swiped to see if it is moving.

cat pushing object over
Just a little push and there it goes!

If the cat gets a reaction from us, he will quite likely repeat the procedure. Cats quickly learn that this is something they can do to get the attention of their human owners. 

Knocking things or batting objects over can be an attention-seeking behavior. A cat may knock over objects to get their cat owner’s attention and receive positive attention in return.

Many people report cats knocking reading glasses and other objects from bedside tables, to encourage the humans to get up to feed them.

The cat may like the attention he gets from you, particularly if you repeatedly replace the object. It then becomes a fun game.

3. Boredom

Knocking things over may mean that your cat is left to his own devices and may just be bored. He is looking at a way to play that matches up with his stalking prey instincts.

He gets to touch and explore objects and the inevitable fall happens when the item is pushed over the edge. 

It is no longer prey and the cat may move on to something else to swat, or may just carry on his merry way as though nothing has happened.  By the way, not all cats display this behavior.

Make sure to allow for some playtime every day. Much like you need to schedule dog walking if you own a dog, there is just no way around it.

Cats need some playtime devoted to them. They need to be stimulated through play to alleviate boredom.

Electronic cat toys, such as laser pointers and toys that encourage batting at objects, can satisfy a cat’s need to hunt and play, while a puzzle feeder and food puzzles can prevent boredom and provide mental stimulation.

a cat knocking a glass off a table

How To Stop Cats Knocking Things Over

1. Put The Valuables Away To Stop Cats Knocking Things Over

An effective way to stop cats from knocking things over, is to put the valuables away.

This is because cats often knock things over out of curiosity or playfulness.

Provide cats with interactive toys and scratching posts to redirect their playful behavior.

cat knocking pot plant off window-ledge

2. Use PetSafe SSSCAT (Spray Dog and Cat Deterrent, Motion Activated Pet Repellent) To Stop Cats Knocking Things Over

To stop cats knocking things over, place the repellent where you don’t want the cat to go, for example the kitchen benchtop, the sideboard, the bookcase, and so on. It repellent is motion activated and battery operated.

When the cat gets too close to the repellent, within about 3 ft, it emits a blast of compressed air. The cat quickly learns that this is undesirable. I will fully disclose here that I have not used this product.

Reading some of the reviews is actually hilarious as the cats get the message very quickly and in a safe way. Some cats learnt so quickly that they only had to see the can and they avoided the area.

I would certainly be willing to give it a go if needed.

The spray repellent can does have an on/off switch. You can decide when you want it turned on. Cats often get up to these shenanigans at night. 

PetSafe SSSCAT Spray Pet Deterrent, Motion Activated Pet Proofing Repellent for Cats and Dogs, Environmentally Friendly

3. Buy Museum Wax To Stop Cats Knocking Things Over


If you really value a particular object and want to leave it where it is on display and it is within swiping range, then using this wax is a great alternative.

It is called Museum Wax, and you guessed it, it is actually used in museums to keep ornaments in place.

You have nothing to lose at this point, and it may well save something precious.

Try it out on some less precious objects first to see if it will survive the cat swiping.

wax to hold objects in place
Sorry Kitty, swiping just won’t work anymore.

4. Change The Behavior

From a behavior specialist or certified feline training perspective, knocking things over can be a normal behavior for cats. However, if the cat’s behavior becomes excessive or destructive, it may be necessary to redirect the cat’s attention to appropriate toys and activities.

A cat behavior expert may be able to give you the help you need to work on eliminating this behavior.

It’s important for cat owners to understand that their cat’s environment can also play a role in their behavior. Make sure the cat has plenty of playtime that mimics hunting.

To stop a cat from knocking stuff over the edge of a table, a cat owner can try a few things. First, they can make sure the cat has plenty of toys to play with, especially toys that mimic hunting behaviors.

Cat’s toys such as wand toys with lures that mimic birds, mice, or even snakes can mimic hunting behaviors for your cat.

 Cat wand toys for Bored Indoor Cats

If the cat still knocks things over, try placing a figure or pen on the edge of the table to deter them. In the moment, you can use their paw to gently redirect the cat’s attention away from the table.

If the cat knocks things over on a table where their owner eats, it may be necessary to provide the cat with their own designated space to prevent this behavior.

vector - two cats reading
I’m not liking the sound of the repellent.  What is the world coming to?

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