Why Do Cats Knock Things Down?

When your cat inadvertently knocks a knick-knack down off a table or shelf in the midst of chasing a playmate or while tossing 'round a catnip-filled toy, you're more inclined to forgive the mishap. However, when he reaches out to push an object off a ledge and onto the floor deliberately (or so it seems!), this bit of mischief may just send your temper over the edge as well! Why oh why do some cats apparently delight in toppling over a variety of household objects—from cell phones to remote controls to prized porcelain figurines? But before you lose your cool, try to see the world through their feline eyes.


Sir Isaac "Mew"-ton?

Could it be that your curious cat is merely observing the laws of gravity when he nudges your reading glasses off the nightstand? Maybe so! According to cat expert Mikel Delgado (as quoted in The Dodo), play behaviors (such as knocking stuff over) can be a way for cats to learn how things work in the world. They could be internally wondering: "'What happens when I touch this? How hard do I need to bat it? How quickly does it fall?'" A good understanding of the laws of physics would have helped their undomesticated ancestors better navigate the world, and therefore increase their chances of survival in the wild.

Might that be a Mouse?!

In addition to learning about physical laws, cats may instinctively assume some inanimate objects are living prey. If they bat at a computer mouse, for example, it may be because it resembles, well….an actual mouse, and they're just checking to see whether or not their eyes are deceiving them.

Batting Stuff out of Boredom

Another reason your cat may be prone to pawing things off the shelf could simply be a lack of stimulating activity in their environment. In which case, it's probably time to invest in better playthings for your precious kitty. Cat expert Jackson Galaxy (of Animals Planet's My Cat From Hell) puts it this way: "Your cat is curious, not purposefully aggravating. And, depending on how you look at it, bored! Think about a toddler who has been given crayons, but no paper. Hello, bedroom wall mural! Ask yourself, 'Do we have enough cat toys?' If the answer is yes, would he still rather bat a cup off the table? If so, it's time to get new toys!"

By Maya M.