Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?

A white mug tipped over with lots of cat biscuits falling out of it

Do you have a cat that thinks she can climb onto your desk and knock on the floor? Is your feline is a constant threat to your knick-knacks? My Cat Owlie is actually really good at not knocking things over but some of my other rescue cats love knocking things over.

Sometimes, our cats can be funny and weird companions. They want to sleep on our heads, play with boxes and bring home dead rat that they have recently hit. Some want to sprint and jump off chairs, couches or beds and rest/counter in the back of the toilet and the cabinet’s top.

Knocking things over is a weird behaviour from our feline friends. And while this habit can be funny at times, other times, it leaves us with broken glass, lamps, glass plates or other mess for cleaning.

If you are a victim of cat knocking behaviour, then you are not alone. Most cat owners have experienced this. Continue reading to learn more about cat why do cat knock things over

Why Do Cats Knock Things Over? There are 6 main reasons for cats knocking things over. These are:

  1. It’s fun
  2. Cats love attention
  3. It’s their hunting instincts
  4. They are bored
  5. Cats love to play
  6. Exploring The World

Reasons Why Cats Knock Things Over:

1.     It’s fun

It’s fun – your cat is fascinating, as you probably know. They like to look at everything around them and explore some aspects of the game, such as batting on the beautiful curtains and having fun with them.

Happiness is one of the most significant aspects of quality of life, and your cat receives many untold rewards by knocking things out.

To learn more about cat fun, read this research study on cats: Caregiver Perceptions of What Indoor Cats Do “For Fun.”

2.     Cats like attention

Cats can learn to push objects off the surface and onto the floor because it attracts humans’ attention. Again, a cat’s life can be boring at times, and if your cat feels that you are not giving her its fair share of attention, she can find her ways to get your attention

The first time your cat knocks on something from your desk or counter something, and you rush to see what has happened then due to your curiosity, she knows that your attention is drawn to the activity. Even if it has a lousy focus, its still interaction, and your cat may want it again and again to get your attention.

If your cat has learned that batting on glass or pen results in a quick, “no, kitty” reaction, they try to do that again to seek your attention. Negative vs Positive Attention doesn’t matter to your Feline friend because they only want your response.

If you’re busy and not giving them proper playtime and confinement, then this behaviour may elevate. Redirect your cat to the good rewards, like a 5-minute painting session or playing any game with her.

[icon name=”info-circle” prefix=”fas fa-2x”] You may also be interested in our article on Why Do Cats Cover Their Faces When They Sleep?

3.     It’s their hunting instinct 

Your cat is a carnivore whose behaviour is similar to that of wild cats. Yes, they hunt. Part of this hunting instinct is to practice hunting skills from kittenhood, such as interrogating, judging and investigating.

All they are doing is curbing the curiosity around the object, considering whether the object is dead or alive. They do this by pawing the thing for a closer look.

Hunting behaviour for knocking things over:

Cats may have a hard time justifying things. We often forget that cats are wild hunters in the wild, and in our apartments, the hunting instinct is still present inside them. So they do hunting even if they are only hunting for hair bands and ankles.

No one knows what’s going on in the cat’s curious little brain. But owners should spend a bit more time playing with their cats each day. An occupied kitty is less likely to knock on things you like or love.

4.     They are bored

They are bored- without enrichment, and due to this, many lonely cats fall victim to boredom. That shiny piece of jewellery or a paper pad at a desk can be the centre of attention when there is nothing else to play with and pay attention to.

5.     Cats love to play

Cats may like to knock things out at a high level because they want to play. Indoor life can be a bit boring for some cats. However, when they were in the wild before domestication, most of their time was spent hunting animals and finding edible things.

It will be interesting for the cat to knock something off your desk and watch it drop. It might even be a way for her to generate this drama because she can now pursue it and bat it around the floor for a minute or two.

If this behaviour happens repeatedly, make sure your cat’s needs are not being met. You may fall asleep late one morning, and your cat may want to remind you that it is your job to feed her. You may have been working from home for a few hours and not paying enough attention to what she needs.

So,  she will act up and want your attention forcefully. And that includes pushing your favourite coffee cup to the floor or throwing a pen from the top of your desk.

6. Exploring The World

Cats use their paws to examine and discover objects in the world around them. To help with boredom or seeking attention, keep your cat’s toys in rotation so that she can play with all of them. Try puzzle toys and games that have hidden treats inside them.

How To Minimise The Problem Of Cats Knocking Things Down?

If you feel frustrated by your cat’s tendency to bat everything on the floor, we can sympathize. This is a common complaint and concern.

But there are 5 ways you can minimise the drama of cat batting.

  1. Keep broken items away from desks and table.
  2. Make sure your cat has many toys and enrichment puzzles.
  3. Construct an area where you can display useless things for cat’s use that she can break out of curiosity.
  4. Get your cat to behave better if it starts to get attention through batting and knocking.
  5. Snuggle and play with your cat for at least 20 minutes to prevent attention-grabbing knocking.

Knocking things off shelves and countertops can be a dangerous fun time for cats. If your cat breaks the glass and then jumps to check it out, he may end up putting the glass in her paws, injuring herself. Not to point out the cost of replacing damaged items.

[icon name=”info-circle” prefix=”fas fa-2x”] You may also be interested in our article on What Are Cat Zoomies?

How Can You Help Stop Your Cat Knocking Things Over?

Here are the following steps you follow to keep your feline away from that bad behaviour:

• The first step is to ensure your kitty is getting sufficient physical and mental stimulation through appropriate channels. Increase your interactive playtime with your cat to get her a lot of attention from you. By doing this, any pent-up energy can come out.

• Next, try to make the higher surfaces or indoor cat trees in your home, so when she is stressed out or bored, she can jump and play on the cat tree. To make homemade higher-level surfaces use rigid cardboard sheet or heavy duty plastic and use Museum wax to anchor these carboard or plastic objects in permanent positions on your shelves.

• If you see your cat stare at something before pushing it away from a desk or counter, shout at it in surprise.

• Distract your cat immediately when she tries to knock things over. Putting one or two coins in a soda can and tapping the can work well to distract your cat.

• When your kitty is knocking things over, throw away a cat’s toy or give her a painting session and try to provide her with many compliments for drawing its attention away. She will gradually learn to focus on her behaviour rather than pushing things over.

• Don’t yell or punish your cat. It can cause stress that can lead to other unwanted behaviours.

You can study a research manual on Basic requirements for good behavioural health and welfare in cats by Irene Rochlitz


A young kitten who enjoys batting things or knocking things over is fun. However, this lovely instinct can turn into a problem for the owner when their cat breaks the glass, heirlooms, and other breakables over time.

Your cat might find these items irresistible and continue breaking them. So its time to take precautionary measures and provide some training or toys such as cat treadmills or balls etc. to distract your cat from knocking things over.


Rochelle is a self-claimed crazy cat lady and proud cat mum to Owlie! She has owned, rescued, and fostered cats throughout her whole life. Rochelle created Cats On My Mind as a hub for likeminded cat parents to get all the information they will ever need to give their fur babies their best life!

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