Why do cats knock things off tables?

If you’re a cat owner you’ve had this happen. You put a pen (or any small object really) on a counter or table. And the next thing you know, there is your cat pawing at it until it hits the floor.

Why do they do this?

As with much of a cat’s behavior, the answer is instinct. Both in the wild and in our homes, cats nudge and swat at objects all the time to determine if it is friend, food or foe.

Nudging serves a pretty practical purpose. If the critter scurries away, it’s potential prey. If it attacks, kitty knows to leave it alone next time. If it stays still, it’s probably nothing to care about at all.

Indoors, when our cats come across a new object, they approach carefully and use their senses to inspect this unknown entity. They may sniff, stalk or swat to determine if it’s something to play with or something to eat. Or maybe it’s both!

So why does kitty knock your favorite knick-knack off a shelf? It’s not because she doesn’t want you to have nice things. She’s hunting; she’s learning his surroundings. And she might even be trying to get your attention.

long hair orange tabby cat on bed staring at camera with front paw extended

We unknowingly encourage behaviors when we yell or come running each time our cat does them. Cats are smart and easily learn ways to get some one-on-one time with you. They have us trained.

Here are four tips to help you break this cycle.

1. Place keepsakes, breakables and important papers out of reach or in storage. This takes away the overall temptation.

2. Pick toys that are meant to be batted around, like our Wiggly Ball Ping, Pong, or Ball. Interactive toys will encourage your pet to swat and chase because they mimic prey..

3. Put her favorite toys on a shelf or table. This gives your cat things she’s allowed to bat and swat off of high surfaces.

4. Set aside play time that mimics hunting and changing out those toys regularly. Cats who get the attention they crave seldom lash out in destructive ways.

orange tabby cat on a couch with front paw extended as it holds onto an oh-ring wand toy attachment

1 comment

  • jmuhj

    Strangely enough, I can’t recall this ever being a matter in our home of many cats over the years. One of my beloved cats did used to steal pens and straws, though, and hide them. And another stole an old sweater another of our cats used to lie on, and ran with it into another room!

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