There’s a universal law that all cat owners will be aware of. If something isn’t nailed down, a cat will eventually knock it off a table or dresser. It’s as inevitable as night following day.
When your cat knocks things over, intentionally or accidentally, there will be a reason. This guide will look closely at the primary explanations for this behavior – and how you may be able to stop it.
Why Does My Cat Knock Things Off Tables?
When your cat knocks something off a table, it’s tempting to assume they are just misbehaving. The truth is, however, there will almost certainly be an explanation for a cat’s behavior.
The six most common reasons for a cat knocking something from a table are as follows:
- Hunting practice.
- Attention seeking.
Now, let’s take a look at each of these explanations in turn.
1) Cats Knock Things Over By Accident
Cats are graceful, so we imagine they are in control at all times. Sometimes, however, they will have a mishap. The excitement of a chasing game, or a happy, swishing tail, can knock things over.
Having a pet is much like having children. You are going to need to accept that things will sometimes get broken. Do not tell your cat off when they have such an accident.
Just avoid the temptation to treat your cat to let them know they’re not in trouble. That’s creating a positive association with destructive behavior. Your cat will soon be breaking anything in sight in the hope of more rewards.
2) Cats Knock Things Over to See What Will Happen
As we all know, cats are curious by their very nature. This means that they may push something off a table to see what happens next. Will it make an interesting noise? Will it bounce? Is it a hitherto-untapped source of food? It’s similar to the reason that cats shred toilet roll.
You’ll need to ensure that your cat knows what is theirs, and what is yours. This may take a while, and they’ll always remain curious about strange items. The easiest solution is to make your cat’s toys and belongings as appealing as possible.
Sprinkle a little catnip on your cat’s possessions to make it clear what is theirs, too. They will find everyday objects to be comparatively mundane, as they don’t provoke the same stimulation.
3) Cats Knock Things Over to Mark Territory
Cats are very fickle creatures. You can spend a fortune on comfy beds, and they’ll decide to sleep on the floor. Likewise, they may decide to lay claim to anything in the home on a whim. This could include a table.
If your cat decides a table is their property, they won’t be shy about claiming it. They will stretch out – and knock anything on the surface off. As far as your cat is concerned, the blame lies with you. After all, you’re the one that is invading their territory with foreign objects.
The only way to avoid this behavior is to implement a strict ‘no furniture’ policy with your cat. You’ll have to be consistent, though. If your cat is not allowed on the dining table, there are no exceptions. They will still try their luck, but are less likely to territorial over furniture. Spaying or neutering your cat will also calm their territorial nature.
4) Cats Knock Things Over Because They Cannot See Them
Have you considered the fact that your cat could be losing their sight? This is a common problem for senior felines. Many older cats find their vision deteriorates very slowly. So gradually that the owner does not notice the problem until it’s too late.
Cats that lose their eyesight can still live a full and happy life. Many felines are more dependent on feeling with their whiskers, smelling and hearing anyway. Take a glass of water on a table, though. This has no scent or sound. A blind cat that does not feel it in time could knock it over.
If your cat is uncharacteristically clumsy, they may be losing their sight. Book in a vision test with your vet. You may be able to reverse the problem if caught early enough.
5) Cats Knock Things Over to Practice Hunting
Cats love to hunt. It’s so ingrained in their nature that, if they’re not hunting, they’re practicing. While felines often explore the world with their mouths, hunting is the exception. For safety, a cat will bat potential prey with their paws.
If your cat is knocking things over, they could be testing potential prey. How does it feel? Does the item fight back? Does it run away? If your cat loses interest after knocking the object over, this is the most likely explanation. They have found the hunt to lack sport, and thus not be worthy of their attention.
6) Cats Knock Things Over for Attention
Finally, your cat must be attention seeking. Just because felines are independent, they do not dislike humans. In fact, they want to be acknowledged and indulged by their owners – just on their terms.
Cats quickly learn that knocking something over makes a noise or a mess. Noise and mess attract humans. Humans provide food or play. This is the thought process in your cat’s mind.
If they engage in seemingly wanton destruction, it is likely a demand for food or attention. Get your cat into a routine to avoid this.
My Cat Keeps Knocking Their Water Bowl Over
One explanation for this is that your cat is testing the water level. Most felines loathe getting their whiskers damp. As they only in drink small quantities, they don’t need a bowl filled to the brim.
They may be attempting to knock some water out before they drink. Of course, there is also the possibility that your cat thinks this is fun. They may want to splash around in the water.
Another, potentially more likely, reasons is that your cat is trying to make their water move. As Vet Street explains, many cats are not interested in static water. Some cats completely ignore their water bowl, choosing to drink from a dripping faucet instead.
Domesticated felines sometimes bat and paw their water bowls, trying to create a rippling effect. If your pet underestimates their strength, this could result in the bowl being knocked over.
You have two possible solutions for this happening:
- Invest in an elevated bowl holder. This will, in theory, hold the water bowl in place. Just be warned that your cat may grow frustrated with this activity. They may work out how to lift the bowl from below, spilling it everywhere. Alternatively, they may ignore it completely and find themselves at risk of dehydration.
- In addition to a conventional water bowl, pick up an electronic water fountain for your cat. These devices encourage your cat to drink by supplying a constant stream of fresh, moving water. This means your pet will rarely be interested in knocking them over. That’s one of the reasons that some cats like to drink from the toilet bowl. It’s more interesting.
If your cat continues to knock their water bowl over, check their eyesight. They may be struggling to see it. Remember what we said previously; water has no scent or sound to locate.
My Cat Keeps Knocking Their Food Bowl Over
Much like water, cats sometimes knock over their food bowls. Again, there will be an explanation for this behavior.
- It’s possible that your cat is expressing distaste with their dinner, but this is unlikely. They’ll usually ignore it if that’s the case. What is more likely is that your cat wants to hunt, rather than be fed. They may be attempting to ‘fish’ food out if their bowl with their paw.
- Your cat may be marking food, knocking the bowl over so nobody can take it. This may seem counterproductive, but cats move in mysterious ways.
- Your cat may have an allergy to plastic, if that’s what the bowl is made of. They will be emptying the food to eat it safely. Get them seen by a vet if you suspect that this is the case. Tests will confirm any suspicions.
Cats knocking their food bowl over can be messy and frustrating, but stay calm. Get to the bottom of the behavior, responding accordingly, and your pet will stop doing it.
Why Does My Knock Things Over at Night?
Cats are nocturnal by nature. The fact that they spend all day sleeping on your sofa isn’t just down to laziness. There is also their basic animal instinct at work.
This means that life can get pretty dull for a cat once the sun goes down. While you are sleeping, what is your cat supposed to do if they are locked inside? A cat breaking things at night is essentially trying to gain your attention.
They want to be fed, played with, let out, or anything else they cannot do themselves. It’s unlikely that a cat cannot see something in the dark. Feline night vision is vastly superior to that of a human.
If your pet becomes a one-cat wrecking crew at night, offer more stimulation during the day. An exhausted, contented cat is less likely to wreak havoc in the name of attention. Get your pet into a routine and they’ll understand that lights out means quiet time. If you can make time to amuse your cat first thing in the morning, it’ll help. Just prepare to be woken up as soon as the sun rises.
How to Stop Cats from Pushing Things Off Tables
Understanding why your cat is knocking things off tables doesn’t make the habit any less frustrating. You will want to coach your pet out of the behavior, for safety if nothing else.
There are a handful of ways that you can do this from happening:
- Remove temptation. The easiest way to stop cats from pushing things off tables is not giving them the chance. Don’t leave glasses and mugs lying around unattended. Place vases and ornaments on high shelves that your cat cannot climb. Keep things behind glass where possible.
- Use deterrent spray. Another solution could be to spray a deterrent aroma around any breakable objects. Think about this approach carefully, though. No cat wants to feel unwelcome and unwanted in their own home. If this is the case, they may look to spend their time elsewhere.
- Provide alternatives. Your cat may be pushing things off tables because they are bored. Provide toys, games, scratching posts and climbing trees to keep them occupied. Just don’t place climbable apparatus within leaping distance of something breakable. As we have previously mentioned, making your cat’s toys as appealing as possible will also help.
- Play with your cat. If your cat is breaking things for attention, teach them that it’s unnecessary. Cats love routine. Set a fixed period for human playtime each day, and your cat will accept it.
- Don’t react. Allow us to reiterate, as this is vital – don’t respond when your cat acts this way. When your cat stops getting a reaction to any activity, they’ll find something else to do.
You will have to be patient when it comes to teaching your cat not to push things off tables. You may never be able to eradicate the behavior completely – cats are going to be cats. By following this advice, however, you will at least be able to minimize it.
Accidents will happen, and you’ll need to accept this if you have a pet. However, cats push things off tables for many reasons. Just remember that there is always a reason.