Why Your Cats Love to Knock Your Stuff Over

As a cat owner, your cat knocking stuff over is something you will have inevitably experienced at some point. It can be cute and funny when it’s an item like your pen or pencil, but when your furry friend starts knocking your mobile phone off of the kitchen table, it can quickly become annoying, costly and in some cases, even dangerous!

Overall cats have some funny traits – jumping into confined spaces, following us into the bathroom or walking over your laptop, so cats knocking things over is just another one of their adorably misunderstood quirks to add to the list.

What’s the Cause?

So if you are asking yourself ‘why does my cat knock things over’, we have the inside scoop to shed some light on this mysterious behaviour. Is it just play taken too far? Is it a completely innocent mistake by your kitty? While it’s unlikely to be sure of the exact reason, feline behaviourists have some theories based on years of study of both domestic and wild feline species. Let’s explore some of these theories.

Theory One – Instinctual Cocktail

As naturally curious creatures with a love of heights, when combined, this just might be the special recipe for this troublesome behaviour.


The term ‘curiosity killed the cat’must have come from somewhere and if you look at the majority or your cat’s behaviours, you will see a pattern – that they are by nature extremely curious creatures. They use their paws to explore and investigate their surroundings. The pads, which are very sensitive to touch, help them to decide what is safe or what is not.


Another natural feline instinct is that they are highly stimulated by movement and as predators, this makes complete sense. Things that move, to a cat, require further investigation!


Finally, cats love to climb and be up high. This is again a natural instinct as height gave advantage and perspective for their wild ancestors when stalking prey and indeed keeping themselves safe from predators.

Could it be possible that this exploratory, curious instinctual nature, coupled with the subsequent movement in a place that just happens to be high up, is the perfect recipe for disaster when in the home environment? It makes sense as a possible and realistic theory.

Theory Two – Just for Fun

Aspects of tapping objects are not dissimilar to their natural stalking and prey chase, perhaps they just find it enormously fun to explore objects and see them move about a shiny surface.

Theory Three – Oh Hello, You Noticed Me!

If your cat is a repeat offender, it is entirely possible that with a combination of the natural instincts mentioned above, together with the reaction and attention they get as a result, that they continue this behaviour as it gets them attention! When we hear a noise, we investigate and come to see what has happened. Yes you may shout at them to start with, but often we quickly follow this with something like, ‘you silly, strange, lovable kitty, you’, proceeded of course with lots of cuddles!

What Can You Do About It?

Whilst you may want to lock your kitty away after they broke your favourite china teacup, less drastic action can have a positive impact.

Put Away Your Valuables

Putting your valuables in less cat accessible places is a really good idea! In cupboards, glass display cabinets and for your phone, your pocket might be a less risky place! If the problem is limited to a specific room or area, try closing it off when you are not there to supervise!

Play Time

Having regular ‘play time’ with your cat will help you control when they can be curious and playful and help them to exert some of their built-up energy. Even if you spend 10-15 minutes a day, it could help give them the stimulation they need which may just help deter them from having to look for entertainment elsewhere. If you don’t have time for this, there are lots of battery-operated cat toys available that can keep your kitty entertained for hours.

Variety of Toys

If you can provide fun, less potentially dangerous alternatives, in soft toys made specifically for cats, you may be able to reduce the likelihood of this behaviour.