Why do cats knock everything over or off the table 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 forward? What’s with this destruction? Are they doing it out of spite?
At first, a young kitten that enjoys batting things around is amusing. Over time, though, this cute instinct can turn into trouble for an owner who wants to keep heirlooms, knickknacks, and other breakables unbroken. Kitty will find these items irresistible. But why?
- Predator Instinct
Your cute domesticated cat has the same behavioural drive to hunt small bothersome creatures as the streets stray cat running through your neighbourhood, only yours is likely pent up. They’ve got to get their kicks somehow! Your cat’s instincts tell her that bottle cap, knickknack or glass of water COULD turn out to be a mouse, her poking paw would send it scurrying and give her a good game.
You could say that cats are hardwired to “test” the motives of your bottle cap, pen, lipstick, car keys or other suspicious tabletop items by giving them a good prod.
- To get attention
If your cat has learnt by batting the glass over or your keys off the table results in a quick “No, naughty kitty!” they have learned that they get attention. Negative vs positive attention makes no difference to your cat because they end up getting a response either way. This could be a good sign to take some more time out of your day to play with your cat and give it some extra snuggles so they are less likely to resort to attention seeking tactics.
- It’s fun and she’s bored
Without enrichment many indoor cats succumb to simple boredom. That shiny set of keys or pad of paper next to the desk can become an object of attention when there is little else to play with. Cats are endlessly curious creatures and as you know they love to explore everything around them.
So how can I stop this behaviour?
- Make time for play time
Cats love to play; in fact they need it to stay happy and healthy. Not only does playing with your cat provide exercise, it also keeps their hunting skills sharp. If they know something moves when they paw it they will make mental notes and return to that object. Have you ever lifted furniture and found a collection of lost pens? Cats are entertained by batting and chasing things across floors so finding a toy that they can chase around is key.
- Move cherished breakables away from easy to reach spots
Making sure to put grandma’s vase on a high shelf your cat can’t reach is a good start. Out of site out of mind!
- Dedicated time with your cat
Spending at least 20 minutes each day snuggling and playing with your cat helps curb the attention seeking destruction. If you lead a busy life another idea is to leave complex toys around for her to play with throughout the day, such as a puzzle feeder.
- Ignore her (and put away those breakables!)
If you suspect your cat is doing this for attention, the best thing you can do is ignore her. Jumping to their beck and call is a way of reinforcing this behaviour. Even if you’re yelling at her to stop she may still feel as though your attention is reward in itself!