Why do cats love knocking things over?

Why do cats love knocking things over?

Pet Psychology

Cats can be both entertaining and infuriating, often at the same time-and when your cat is about to do something naughty, it can sometimes seem as if they go out of their way to make sure that you are watching them first! One of the most common feline behaviours is also one that can be annoying and/or funny depending on how it manifests-and this is of course when your cat knocks things over deliberately with their paw, or goes out of their way to push something off a shelf or worktop!

This is a behaviour that most cats manifest, and whether it only happens occasionally or if it is such a regular occurrence that you find yourself unconsciously putting things down at the back of the worktop or out of your cat’s reach, you have probably wondered why they are doing it, and if there is anything that you can do to stop it.

In this article, we will look at things from a cat’s eye view, and share some insights into why cats love knocking things over, and what you can do to prevent accidents and protect your things! Read on to learn more.

Cat behaviour

Cats are inquisitive animals that like to get up close and personal with things and explore the world through a combination of sight, hearing, touch, smell and sometimes taste. Patting at things with the paws or batting things that move is a very common cat behaviour, and one that can be very confusing-or lead you to believe that your cat is just going out of their way to be annoying!

It is certainly true that cats may bat things over and deliberately paw at small objects until they fall down just for the sake of it, but there are also a range of different reasons why cats enjoy doing this, and that explain what such behaviour means to your cat.


Cats like to get to know everything that makes up their homes and territories, and they will probably spot something new or out of place very quickly. Cats are often quite speculative about approaching new things until they get familiar with them and they begin to smell like the rest of the home-but they will also have a burning curiosity to do just that, which will manifest sooner or later!

Cats will approach new things or things that are in a new place and sniff them first, before potentially rubbing their heads on it to pass on their scent, and potentially, use their paws or noses to see what happens when the object moves!


Cats find all sorts of different things entertaining, from lively games of mock-hunting and running around to simply watching the world go by from a comfortable window seat. If your cat is looking for something to do or something catches their eye, they will likely target small or moveable objects that provide feedback and stimulation by doing something when touched-such as tipping over or rolling away. If your cat nudges over a glass of water, they are likely intrigued by the way the water moves in the glass, and of course a great many things roll or teeter when pushed, further holding your cat’s attention.

Territory and spaces

If your cat keeps pushing the same thing over or keeps interfering with things that are left on a certain surface or in a certain place, your cat might be trying to let you know that they think the item in question shouldn’t be there! If your cat always sits in the same place and you try to place an ornament there, that ornament’s chances of surviving are fairly low-your cat is likely to either deliberately or accidentally move it by pushing it or knocking it over.

If this keeps happening, you may need to find somewhere else to put your things, or at least, take note of the fact that your cat has their own opinions about their choices, and is going to express them!

Play and hunting

Cats all manifest hunting behaviour and their prey drive to some extent or another, be that with live prey or simply toys. If an object provides some kind of response as a reward to your cat, by moving, falling over or rolling off a counter, this will appeal to your cat’s natural sense of fun and their desire to chase and hunt.

Providing your cat with alternatives in the form of balls to chase and other interactive toys can help to curb their urges to mess with your ornaments!

Your responses

Finally, if your cat learns that knocking things over gets your attention and results in you putting the object back or speaking to them, they may keep repeating the behaviour to get the same response.

Righting a knocked-over object or picking up something knocked onto the floor will read as a game to your cat, and they may well think that you are just setting up the game again for your cat to have another go at!

If you are trying to keep your cat away from a certain place or stop them from knocking over certain objects, do not keep providing a response and stimulus-if your cat gets bored of failing to get a response, they will find another target for their attentions.



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