Have you ever wasted plenty of time finding pens that your cat knocks off tables into under the couch? If the answer is yes, congratulations. You’re not the only one.

Besides resting on top of cabinets or behind toilets, felines frequently exhibit other strange behavior like knocking things off. This may be funny at times but can turn out annoying if a vase is shattered into pieces. Why do cats knock things off tables and shelves? 

Why do cats knock things off tables and shelves?

Prey instinct  

As natural hunters, cats tend to use their paws to explore new objects. Since these body parts are extremely sensitive, they make these animals better at handling strange things. After capturing a mouse, they test its movement with their paws to make sure the prey is dead. Pencils or lip balms on the desk are no exceptions.  

Although the pet can tell such things and a real mouse apart, it is their instinct that encourages him to play with them, finally swatting them off the desk and onto the floor.

Attention capturing method

Why do cats like to knock things off tables? It’s simple. They want to draw their owners’ attention, especially when their water or food bowls need refilling.

Cats are smart enough to understand that you will immediately show up as soon as they knock over a cup of water. They are quick at learning what will catch your attention the most easily. They know how to do to gain what they want.

Therefore, your reaction can determine the continuation of this playful behavior. As bad attention is still better than ignorance, you’d better turn a blind eye to him if your little friend has developed the habit of knocking things over.

At the same time, remember to keep breakable valuables out of his reach as prevention is better than cure.

See more of cats knocking things off compilation.


Cats are energetic species, so it’s no way easy for them to stay inactive for a long time. They tend to knock an object over playfully to get rid of boredom. If the thing falls and rolls, it will become a toy.

Curiosity pushes some cats to paw at objects to see how they move and accidentally knock kinds of stuff off tables or desks. These animals get appealed to watching the object fall onto the floor, hearing the sound of hitting the floor, and running after it. It may be funny but sometimes dangerous. If they knock over a glass object, their paws can get injured when walking through the glass shards.

As a result, to prevent further breakages, it’s advisable to keep your furry companion amused as long as possible. Make sure you put many toys around. Don’t forget to spare a sufficient amount of time for playing and exercising with him every day. If you let his boredom and energy build-up, don’t be surprised when he seeks to cause trouble.

How to stop cats from knocking things off

First, never leave anything light enough or fragile on the desk, table, or shelf, which easily falls into the sight of your four-legged friend. Another effective solution is to close the door and keep kittens out.

Otherwise, try applying double-sided sticky tape to the surface where the cat may come into contact with. Upon jumping on the table, he is likely to have his paws stuck to the tape, which prevents him from jumping back.

If you see the pet already on the table, it’s better to direct him to more appropriate behavior rather than shouting at him or chasing him away, which may run counter-productive. Be patient to deploy positive techniques to create outlets for physical and mental stimulation. After catching his attention, you can tell him to sit or chase after a toy. Clicker training helps introduce fun activities and behavior to felines.

Alternatively, keep your little companion occupied by assigning him to a task. Multiple puzzle toys are available to make him work for food. In the wild, his ancestors used to spend between 40 and 60 percent of their time searching for food. Therefore, if there aren’t enough activities to play around with, he will find other ways to be busy.

Final thoughts

During the adoption, pet owners may at least once yell in despair: “Why do cats knock things off tables and shelves?”. This habit is great fun for the animals but it isn’t always easy to handle.

If possible, let’s consult with a veterinarian or turn to an animal behavior specialist for the most effective solution.  


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