Knock it off…or over

To say that cats are mischievous is an understatement. Anything that moves or dangles is potential prey. Anything unrecognizable is a potential enemy. Any sudden sound a potential threat. When they’re not sleeping, these natural predators are attacking or lying-in-wait or fleeing. Such behavior is understandable. But why do cats seem to enjoy knocking things off of counters, tables, shelves and vanities? The habit may have been cute when they were kittens, but it ceases to be amusing when glasses shatter and porcelain statues break and expensive cologne bottles smash onto the tile floor.

The reasons for such destructive behavior are not clear, but one theory is that it relates to the curiosity in cats. Their paw pads are very sensitive, so when they pat, swat, and knock something down, it helps them better explore things around them. It’s their way of testing objects, and the movement, sound, and touch or feel of the object gives them some idea of what it is, and helps them understand whether or not the item is safe.Knock-it-off…or-over

Equally likely is that your cat is seeking attention…and they can be quite creative when they’re feeling neglected. Think back to your reaction when you were using your computer, watching TV, or reading a book and suddenly you heard something crash onto the floor.  Bet that got your attention!

If your cat’s not demanding that you feed him or play with him, then it probably just wants to be noticed. Acknowledged. Even being scolded is better than being ignored. They learn early how to get your attention. Your reaction plays a key role in their behaviors. Knocking over objects provides a sure-fire method for cats to get a reaction out of people. So as hard as it may be, the best thing to do is to ignore the behavior (and put away anything breakable).

A final possibility: Your cat may knock things over simply because it’s fun. When she moves something with her paw it combines the best aspects of stalking and prey-chase with the movement and tactile feel of the patted object, and the ultimate rush of the item falling over or down and crashing! What a thrill for the little angel.

You can try to divert her attention by providing plenty of toys, rotating them so she doesn’t get bored. And you can schedule playtime with her daily. That might keep her from searching for attention…and getting into trouble.

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