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How to stop your cat knocking things off the table: Understanding why they do it

A cat’s mind is full of wonderful and enthusiastic ideas. Understanding the minds of cats is something humans have only scratched the surface on. Among the countless mysteries surrounding behavior, a particular need for knocking items off tables or elevated surfaces seems prominent. As a cat owner, you may face a messy situation without much explanation from your furry feline friend.

Rest assured, you are not alone in dealing with a cat that is keen to knock everything down from its proper place. Many owners wonder what instigates the knocking spree in the first place. Taking a closer look at driving factors and emotions around such behavior gives a little insight into the cat psyche.

cat knocking things off the table gif

PLAYFUL NATURE

Cats are playful and social creatures. It might come as no surprise to discover that cats like to enjoy a conquest of knocking things over as part of their bizarre game. Looking at feral cats in the wild, they will often delay eating their prey immediately after catching mice or other small animals. It’s play time before dinner, as cats have even been observed to purposely let prey run away to fuel another round of pursuit and capture. This mischievous behavior carries forward to domestic house cats too.

While slightly different in nature, knocking over items around the house are linked to practice and consolidation of a cat's hunting behavior. In the absence of prey, kitties will scout out alternative ways of entertainment. Typically known for their ambush hunting instincts, cats love to hunt. Kittens will begin to learn the way of the hunt, absorbing techniques with parents and siblings. Though, most of their hunting skills be honed through games, chasing anything and everything that moves. Kittens start off as little bundles of energy as they pounce at their mother's tail, house companion's ankles, wind-blown blades of grass and just about anything that shows signs of motion.

 cat knocking things off the table gif

CAT BOREDOM AND DESTRUCTION

Enthusiasm and interest in anything and everything will begin decline over time with an absence of live prey. To fulfill their natural hunting desires, cats will expand their goal of play to something that items that are static around the house. Emphasis shift from moving objects to items that can be moved. For example, a small stone lying on the ground may capture a cat’s attention. They will approach and sit next to the item, clawing at it and giving motion, almost bringing it to life. It is a this point that a and cat’s enthusiasm is reinvigorated and playtime resumes until they lose interest once more.

 

Moving on to why cats often knock things off the table. In a state of boredom or curiosity, cats will try to push everything that can be pushed. Regardless of height or available space, tumbling and crashing is to ensue. After pushing something off the table, a cat will once again turn into the world’s greatest detectives, observing and analyzing the debris that lays on the ground. After much though and deduction, it’s onto the next item to push, most likely reenacting the scenario that has just come to pass. It becomes an enjoyable way to create excitement around the house.  

 kitten with a big yellow cup on the table

PREVENTION AND ENTERTAINMENT

 

Prevention is the best course action in situation where a cat may want to cause a little havoc. Removing items off elevated surfaces, especially fragile and precious goods. Appropriate space and positioning should be used when mounting at elevated surfaces. Elimination of possible chaos is the best way to avoid a curious cat’s playtime across the table. It’s also important to keep your cat occupied to fight cat boredom. Playing with them for multiple sessions throughout the day is recommended for continuous development and stimulation. Consider picking up an interactive cat toy or other suitable utility to prevent cat boredom in the house.

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