Why do cats knock stuff over? - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Why do cats knock stuff over?

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(Meredith) – Cats are funny animals. They’ll prowl around, bring us dead mice, and hop inside boxes for no reason.

But there is one aspect of our feline friends that is seemingly unexplainable: why do they knock our stuff over? PetMD did some digging and here’s what they discovered.

 “It depends (why),” Amy Shojai, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (CABC) with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, said to PetMD. “There could be multiple reasons why cats knock things over.”

[Related: Why can't cats resist thinking inside the box?]

A Few Ideas

Here are a few reasons why animal experts think cats might be knocking over our coffee cups, plants, and other small items.

  • Their desire to hunt for prey

“Cats are hardwired to hunt for their food, so knocking things over may be a manifestation of this instinct,” Adi Hovav, Senior Feline Behavior Counselor at the ASPCA Adoption Center, told PetMD.

  • Testing their environment

“Cats use their paws to test and explore objects, and the movement, sound, and touch or feel of the object helps them understand what might be safe or not,” Shojai said.

  • A human reaction

Cats are smart and humans make great audiences. “Who doesn’t jump up when that glass starts to go over the edge of the table?” Hovav asked. When cats need attention, they know how to get it.

  • Manipulation

“Cats are incredibly adept at finding ways to manipulate what they want,” Shojai said. “Which often comes down to: Look at me, feed me, play with me.” If they aren’t getting positive attention, they might settle for negative.

  • Because it’s fun

Instead of overthinking possible reasons, the truest answer might be the simplest. Cats knock stuff over because they find it fun.

“A moving paw-patted object combines all of the best aspects of stalking and prey chase with the movement and tactile feel of the patted object, and the final escape rush of the falling item,” Shojai told PetMD.

How to Stop the Behavior

PetMD recommends cat owners do some of the following to keep their furry friends from knocking over stuff around the house:

  • Make sure the cat has plenty of toys (and rotate them in and out so they all keep an air of “newness"). This will keep your cat from getting bored with all their toys.
  • Schedule play and exercise time every day.

Overall, PetMD stresses that the true reason why cats partake in knocking things over isn’t fully understood.

“The research just hasn’t been done yet,” Hovav said.


Information for this article was provided by PetMD.

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