Why Do Cats Knock Things Over? Inside a Cat’s Mind

Published December 29, 2020
Guilty cat knocked vase off counter onto the floor

Why do cats knock things over? They do it to get your attention and may need a play session. Felines are also curious creatures. If your cat drives you crazy with this behavior, then it's time to get down to business. There are many reasons for this attention-seeking behavior, and the main priority is to restore the relationship with your cat.

Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?

Cats like to investigate everything! Felines are curious about any item in the environment, and they may knock things over if they use their paws to manipulate them. If a pet parent reacts positively or negatively, cats learn this behavior gets your attention. If you engage a cat when something falls off a counter, they do it again and again. This behavior is attention-seeking rather than anxiety-related.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Cats bat with their paws, and this behavior often leads to trouble. For example, the item they bat around may make an unusual noise when it hits the floor, or your cat may enjoy the motion when something falls!

  • Knock things off the counter
  • Scratch up a couch versus the scratching post
  • Claw up the curtains

Pet Parents Reward Nuisance Behavior

It is hard to blame your cat when the real problem is your reaction to the behavior. Pet parents give the behavior weight in a variety of ways. For example, cat lovers may show their dissatisfaction and reward the action with a treat. In some cases, you may even yell or laugh when an item falls to the floor. All attention is a reward for your cat.

Restore the Relationship With Your Feline Buddy

If your cat is asleep on the couch after a long play session during the day, then you won't find them knocking items on the floor. A popular technique is to cat-proof the kitchen and mantel so you won't have any problems if your cat pokes around.

Also, moving forward, every good behavior ends with a treat. When your cat stretches and heads towards the cat cave, it is time for a treat. When pet parents reward good behavior, cats remember what they did to earn a puzzle toy with food.

Cat Proof Every Room

Cat proofing is essentially a management technique to prevent your cat from knocking items off the mantel. Remove the items or secure them with museum putty.

Set Your Cat Up for Success

When you are home, close doors to rooms where there are objects your cat loves to explore. Cats knock things over when you are home and during predictable times of the day. Remember, they want your attention!


Step up when you play with your cat and battle boredom with a new play routine and novel toys. Offer new and exciting outlets for your cat to enjoy with you and your family members.

Redirect to Something Appropriate

Always redirect the behavior. Most cats will do anything for food. Prepare puzzle toys each morning so these are ready to go as soon as the behavior occurs.

There Is Something in It for Your Cat

If all attention is a reward to your cat, then it is time for a new plan when nuisance behavior occurs. If the environment is safe and there is nothing left for your feline friend to knock over, then the attention-seeking behavior should disappear. With that in mind, step up the playtime sessions and engage your cat in play during the day when they are most active.

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Why Do Cats Knock Things Over? Inside a Cat’s Mind