Why Do Cats Knock Things Off Tables And Shelves?


Why do cats knock things off tables and shelves?

Prey instinct  

As natural hunters, cats tend to use their paws to explore new objects. Since these body parts are extremely sensitive, they make these animals better at handling strange things. After capturing a mouse, they test its movement with their paws to make sure the prey is dead. Pencils or lip balms on the desk are no exceptions.  

Although the pet can tell such things and a real mouse apart, it is their instinct that encourages him to play with them, finally swatting them off the desk and onto the floor.

Attention capturing method

Why do cats like to knock things off tables? It’s simple. They want to draw their owners’ attention, especially when their water or food bowls need refilling.

Cats are smart enough to understand that you will immediately show up as soon as they knock over a cup of water. They are quick at learning what will catch your attention the most easily. They know how to do to gain what they want.

Therefore, your reaction can determine the continuation of this playful behavior. As bad attention is still better than ignorance, you’d better turn a blind eye to him if your little friend has developed the habit of knocking things over.

At the same time, remember to keep breakable valuables out of his reach as prevention is better than cure.

See more of cats knocking things off compilation.


Cats are energetic species, so it’s no way easy for them to stay inactive for a long time. They tend to knock an object over playfully to get rid of boredom. If the thing falls and rolls, it will become a toy.

Curiosity pushes some cats to paw at objects to see how they move and accidentally knock kinds of stuff off tables or desks. These animals get appealed to watching the object fall onto the floor, hearing the sound of hitting the floor, and running after it. It may be funny but sometimes dangerous. If they knock over a glass object, their paws can get injured when walking through the glass shards.

As a result, to prevent further breakages, it’s advisable to keep your furry companion amused as long as possible. Make sure you put many toys around. Don’t forget to spare a sufficient amount of time for playing and exercising with him every day. If you let his boredom and energy build-up, don’t be surprised when he seeks to cause trouble.

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It gets them attention

It doesn’t take long for cats to figure out that sending an item tumbling to the floor makes a lot of noise, which may send a human caretaker running to investigate. As veterinarian and author Dr. H. Ellen Whiteley explains in a HowStuffWorks article, this is incredibly valuable information for a cat:

[O]nce a cat learns that knocking something to the floor will bring humans on the double-quick, she may actually do it on purpose to get your attention, particularly if she feels that a meal is long overdue.

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Getting you to leap up from your comfy reading chair to hoot and holler about another broken water glass might be part of the point for your cat—so don’t give them the satisfaction.

How can I make my cat stop doing this?

Beyond wanting to keep your precious paperweights intact, you should consider the unsanitary hazards of Kitty hanging out on your counters and dinner table. Remember, folks, where those paws have been and what they are trampling over on a daily basis. “Because of the risk of bacteria or toxoplasmosis spread through fecal-oral contact, it’s best to keep her paws off counters, stovetops, and tables,” says Dr. Justine Lee, DVM, DACVECC, DABT.

Although you can somewhat mitigate these icky effects with a self-cleaning litter box like Litter-Robot (which leaves a clean bed of litter for your cat after every use), you might still want to curb this behavior.

Ignore her

If you suspect your cat is knocking things over to get your attention, the best thing to do is to ignore her (and put away any breakable items). Jumping to her beck and call is a way of reinforcing the behavior. Even if you’re yelling, she might feel as though your attention is a reward in and of itself.

Play with her

Leave complex toys around for her to play with throughout the day, such as a puzzle feeder. And as we mentioned earlier, make sure you give your cat playtime every day so she’s less likely to invent new ways of amusing herself.

Trick her

Finally, you could pull out the big guns with double-sided sticky tape. When your cat jumps on the table, her paws will stick a little to the tape. This sensation will deter most cats from jumping back up.

Now that you know a few reasons why cats knock things off tables and countertops, you might be able to pinpoint your cat’s specific motive for doing so. Use these tips to curb her naughty behavior—or just sit back and let Kitty do Kitty. The choice is yours!