Why Does My Cat Knock Things Over?

Learn why cats knock things down.

Do you have a cat that has a tendency to climb on tables, counters, or shelves and knock things over—seemingly just to watch them fall? Well, you're not alone. Many, many cats engage in this behavior.

Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?

Cats use their paws a lot. They bat things around just so they can chase them. Knocking something off a high spot adds even more fun to the game. Cats are curious about the world around them, and watching something fall when they use their paw to push it over the edge into the abyss is interesting.

Once a kitty knocks something off a high edge and watches it fall, it can become a habit because it turned out to be fun.

Indoor cats become bored quickly, so anything that triggers their hunting and chasing instinct, like something falling and crashing, is likely to get them excited.

That's called positive reinforcement, and it's a powerful training method for cats. In this case, the reinforcement can come in the form of the object looking, sounding, and acting fun when it falls. Additionally, reinforcement can come in the form of attention from the owner. That might be positive or negative reactions that people give the kitty when he knocks something down.

Even when someone is in a different room, a crashing sound tends to bring them running to see what happened. That's powerful positive reinforcement, especially if a kitty is bored.

How to Curb the Knocking Down Behavior

Knocking things off high shelves can be destructive and even dangerous. Glass can break, creating a hazardous situation for the kitty's paws when he follows the object down to play with it. If your cat is knocking things down routinely, you can do a few things to curb the behavior:

So while it might seem like it's impossible to teach your cat to stop knocking things over, it is possible. You just need to consider the reasons your cat is doing it and provide alternatives.