A cartoon of a cat knocking a photo off a desk.

Why do cats knock everything over or off onto the floor? If you are a cat owner, you probably know all about your feline companion’s love of knocking things over. Are your treasured knickknacks and breakables put away? Have you set down your glass of water just to watch your pal send it floorward? What’s with this destruction? Are they doing it from spite?

The reasons why cats knock everything over is the subject of many social media memes, but we at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services understand the frustration. We are here to explain this behavior and what you can do to curb it. 

Help! They Just Broke Another Glass

At first, a young kitten who enjoys batting things around is amusing. Over time, though, this cute instinct can turn into trouble for an owner who wants to keep heirlooms, vases, and other breakables unbroken. Kitty will find these items irresistible. But why?

  1. It’s their hunting instinct — Your cat is a carnivore whose behaviors are akin to wild cats. Yes, they hunt. Part of this hunting instinct means practicing from kittenhood the skills of the hunt, like investigating and pouncing. What they are doing as they scoot curiosities around is considering whether the object is dead or alive. They do this by pawing at the object to take a closer look.
  2. To get attention — If your cat has learned that batting at the glass or pen results in a quick, “No, kitty”, they have learned that they get attention. Negative versus positive attention makes no difference to your feline friend because they end up getting your response. If you have been busy and not giving them adequate playtime and snuggles, redirect your cat with the right sort of rewards, like a 5-minute petting session.
  3. They are bored — Without enrichment, many indoor cats succumb to simple boredom. That shiny piece of jewelry or the pad of paper next to the desk can become an object of their attention when there is little else to play with or pay attention to.
  4. It’s fun — Your cat is endlessly curious, as you probably know. They love to explore everything around them and find certain aspects of play, like batting at the curtains, entertaining to them. One of the biggest components of quality of life is pleasure, and your cat receives untold rewards by knocking things over.

How You Can Redirect the Behavior

If you are feeling frustrated by your cat’s tendency to bat everything to the floor, we can sympathize. It’s a common complaint and concern. But there are 5 ways you can minimize the cat batting drama. 

  1. Make sure your cat has several toys and enrichment puzzles. 
  2. Move cherished breakables off of the desk, counters, and tables. 
  3. Create a cat-free area where you can display those things that might get broken by curious whiskered ones.
  4. Redirect your cat to better behavior if they start to seek attention through batting and knocking things over.
  5. Spend at least 20 minutes each day snuggling and playing with your cat to curb the attention-seeking destruction.

Why Do Cats Knock Everything Over, and More Questions

The team at OVRS is available to you to answer any questions that concern your fur friend. If the bad behavior turns noticeably destructive, it may be something to address at your pet’s next veterinary wellness check. 

If you would like to chat with us or schedule an appointment, please do not hesitate to call.