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Why Do Cats Knock Things Over? 3 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 28, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

A Thai cat playing with a white mug

Why Do Cats Knock Things Over? 3 Vet-Reviewed Reasons


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are curious animals. They can be cute and cuddly one minute, then start knocking things over the next. They might even break belongings that are difficult or impossible to replace! We put up with these antics because we love our cats, but it does not hurt to explore why our furry family members knock things over so we can better understand their actions. There have not been any serious studies conducted about this topic, but it is thought that there are a few reasons that a cat might knock something over.

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The 3 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Knocking Things Over

1. They Are Practicing Their Hunting Skills

One reason your cat might be knocking things over is that they are simply practicing their hunting skills. Their natural prey drive keeps them on the hunt, and if there are no prey animals around, they will find something else to hunt. Their target may become a coffee cup that you are drinking out of, a pen on your desk, a grocery list sitting on the kitchen counter, or a valuable piece of jewelry that you are getting ready to put on. Cats do not seem to be discriminatory. They like to play with their prey, which is why you may see your cat batting at an object before knocking it over. Luckily, many cats will stop knocking a certain object over once they figure out that it is not alive.

Cat hunting to toy mouse at home
Image Credit: Viacheslav Lopatin, Shutterstock

2. They Are Trying to Get Your Attention

Cats may also knock things over if they figure out that it gets your attention every time they do. When your cat is feeling lonely or bored, they might knock something over that is located near you to draw your attention away from whatever you are doing so they can have all that attention. The more attention you offer when your kitty knocks something over, the more often they will likely do it.

3. They Are Just Having Fun

Sometimes, cats just want to have fun. If they cannot find any interesting toys to play with or if they are feeling extra curious, they might bat something off the table and then chase after it to toss it around for a while. They might think that a feather on your hat looks fun, but they accidentally knock the hat stand over while trying to play. If a cat is just having fun, they may or may not be knocking things over on purpose.

cat walks on the kitchen table
Image Credit: EkaterinaSid, Shutterstock

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Can Anything Be Done to Stop the Behavior?

The best thing you can do to keep your cat from knocking things over is to ignore them when they do it. If possible, wait until they move on to another activity before picking or cleaning up the item that they knocked over.

You might find that your cat likes to knock over a specific type of item, in which case you can start keeping those items out of reach. You should also make sure that plenty of toys are always available for your cat to play with, as this should keep their focus off of your stuff. Electronic mice and other interactive options will help keep their prey instincts under control.

Yet another possibility is to securely paste those items to the shelf or area where you wish them to remain. If your cat learns items are impossible to knock over, they are less likely to repeat the behavior in the future.

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The Bottom Line

Cats are going to knock things over occasionally, and there is not much we can do about it. We can deter them, but patience should always be practiced if something does end up getting knocked over. Do you know any tips or tricks for keeping cats from knocking things over? Share them with us in the comments section.

Featured Image Credit: Ekaterina Kolomeets, Shutterstock

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