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Why Do Cats Knock Things Over? Understanding Your Cat’s Quirky Behavior

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Sometimes the strange behavior of our feline friends can be fun and entertaining. Other times, it’s just plain frustrating. Is your cat constantly swatting at objects? Does she cause you to hesitate before leaving a glass of water or fragile object unattended, even if just for a few minutes? 

Cats are complex—and so are the reasons behind their odd habits. The fact of the matter is that there are several possible reasons behind your kitty’s urge to knock things over. Keep reading to learn more!


Even if your indoor cat is a pampered princess, her prey drive isn’t going anywhere. Cats are predators by instinct, which is why you’ll frequently find them pouncing and swatting at toys and objects (hence the affinity for toys they can chase and try to catch, like wands and lasers). 

By knocking over an inanimate object, your cat may be trying to figure out whether that item can act as “prey.” Have you ever caught your kitty playing with a bug or dust bunny after catching it? Cats tend to play with their prey after they catch it, which is likely exactly what she was trying to do before she knocked that vase onto the floor.


In addition to being natural hunters, cats are curious creatures. They love to explore the world around them using all of their senses—especially touch. 

Your cat’s paws are incredibly sensitive. Especially if it’s an unfamiliar object, your kitty will want to bat it around a bit to get an idea of how it feels: is it alive and moving? Is it heavy? Is it a potential snack? By feeling objects with her paws, she’s able to get a better idea of whether it’s interesting or not.


Maybe your cat initially started knocking things over as a predatory instinct, or because it’s her preferred method of exploration. But here’s the thing: you reacted, and she learned that swatting at objects is a great way to get your attention! 

We tend to think of cats as introverted creatures, but they still enjoy connecting with the ones they love. They’re also quick learners, and can easily pick up on which types of behaviors will elicit a reaction. After all, negative attention is still attention.  

When you react to your cat’s undesirable behavior, you’re inadvertently teaching her that this is an effective way to get your attention. Instead, try not to react to negative behaviors at all, and reward good behavior instead. (It also doesn’t hurt to offer extra cuddles and scratches when she is behaving nicely!)


There’s another possible explanation behind your cat’s constant urge to knock things over: it’s fun! Maybe she’s bored with her existing toys and routine, and that item on your desk feels shiny and new. 

Cats need their fair share of mental and physical stimulation. If your kitty isn’t getting enough interaction, she’ll turn to other outlets, including scratching your furniture and playing with things that aren’t meant to be toys. 

Keep your cat satisfied and entertained by rotating her toys every so often; that way, the novelty won’t wear off as quickly and she’s more likely to stay captivated by toys that are appropriate for her to swat, pounce, and scratch.  

We also recommend carving out time for at least two 15-minute play sessions per day using interactive cat toys such as wands and lasers. Not only is this a great form of mental and physical exercise for your cat, but it’s also a great way for the two of you to bond!

Cat-Proofing Your Home

When you adopt a cat, you’re adopting all of her quirks, too. Simply put: your cat isn’t going to stop being a cat, and you can’t train instincts away. 

Your cat is likely going to continue swatting and exploring for the rest of her life. Instead of getting frustrated at the inevitable, focus on making changes that would make your household more harmonious. For starters: cat-proof your home by keeping your valuables safe from your cat by placing them out of reach or switching to something less fragile. 

In addition to keeping objects safe from your cat, it’s also important to make sure your cat is safe from toxic materials and ingredients. Make sure any small, ingestible objects are removed or out of reach, and be sure to keep your kitchen ingredients closed away when you’re not using them. If you’re a plant lover, check out these 10 houseplants to keep away from your cat.

Help your cat live her best lives with Pet Honesty’s Lysine-Immune Health+ for Cats. This tasty vet-recommended powder is made with powerful natural ingredients that work together to promote a strong immune system. Just mix it into your kitty’s food and let her reap the benefits!