Why Does My Cat Knock Everything Over?

It’s not just to bug you 😈

cat knocking over glass of water

Have you ever been minding your own business when your cat starts tossing items off your counter left and right? This can be annoying when you’re in the middle of something, and it can be even more frustrating if your cat starts to knock over things that are easily breakable.

While both your home and the internet are full of cats knocking things over, cats actually have reasons for this quirky habit.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Marci K. Koski, a certified feline behavior and training consultant at Feline Behavior Solutions, to find out why your cat knocks everything over.

He's bored

Just like people, cats can get bored if they don’t have enough to do. And while cats are often thought of as lower-maintenance pets, that’s not exactly true since they need a lot of mental and physical stimulation.

“Things like knocking objects off tables, chewing plants, attacking your feet, playing with the window blinds and other activities indicate that your cat needs more environmental enrichment,” Dr. Koski told The Dodo.

He wants your attention

If you tell your cat “No!” every time he knocks something over, he’ll learn that doing it will get your attention — and even negative attention is better than nothing. When you react, you’re reinforcing the behavior.

So if your cat wants to be fed or wants to play while you’re in the middle of a Zoom call, he may start knocking things over.

He's expressing his prey drive

Cats could be expressing their prey drive when they’re knocking stuff over.

“People mistakenly think that cats just lay around and sleep all day, and while this may be true for some cats, we must remember that our cats are small, predatory beasties who evolved to explore and interact with their environment!” Dr. Koski said.

Cats explore their surroundings, and one way they do this is by testing things with their paws. So your cat could be trying to see if the object is safe for him as he would similarly investigate other things in the wild before eating them.

Cats will often toy with their prey when they hunt as well, and knocking things over may be a similar activity. They could also be trying to figure out if the object is dead or alive as they would with prey.

It’s fun

Knocking things over also might just be fun for your cat.

Cats can be really curious, and your cat may just enjoy knocking over objects because he finds your reaction amusing, he wants to see what the object will do or the activity is interesting to him for whatever reason.

So while you might think it’s weird that your cat likes to knock over your glass of water, he could just be trying to play with it like a toy.

How to get my cat to stop knocking things over

There are ways to prevent your cat from constantly knocking stuff over, and you don’t have to just live with your cat knocking over all of your breakables.

Keep your cat entertained

Give your cat lots of activities to keep him busy.

“Give your cat daily play sessions with a wand toy to let them express their predatory instincts and provide them with opportunities to do what cats do,” Dr. Koski recommended.

This wand toy earned The Dodo’s Paw of Approval. You can get it from Chewy for $3.32.

Fun and rewarding activities — like food puzzles, cat grass, clicker-training, teaching your cat to use a harness, self-play toys (like catnip toys), cat perches and hiding spots — allow cats to explore and engage their brains for a mental workout and keep them from getting bored.

“Try giving your cat something new to discover every day — even if it's not a hit, at least it's something new,” Dr. Koski said. “And novel experiences are the best thing in the battle against boredom.”

This interactive Ripple Rug received The Dodo’s Paw of Approval. You can get it from Amazon for $40.11.

Don’t react

And when your cat does knock something over, the best thing to do is to ignore it. By scolding your cat, you’re likely giving him a reaction that he’s looking for, so it may encourage him to keep doing it in the future.

Move objects out of your cat’s reach

You should also move objects away from areas where your cat likes to hang out. That way, your cat won’t be able to knock over anything breakable. It’s also safer for your cat in case he manages to knock over something sharp or dangerous, like glass or a poisonous plant (but try not to bring poisonous plants or other toxic substances into your home at all, just in case).

So cats actually knock things over for a reason — and it’s not to annoy you. But you should try to keep your cat busy so he doesn’t feel the need to constantly knock stuff over.

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