Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?

We all know the image of our cat knocking objects off the table or off a shelf. What is the cause of this behavior? Let’s see why cats throw things on the floor. We may think that cats throw things because… they are cats, that is to say, little beings with the appearance of an angel and the soul of an imp.

But going a little deeper… First, let’s try to understand them, because there are at least 3 good reasons why they do it!

This is in my way

Cats walk anywhere they want and if they see anything that blocks their path in the middle of the lane, they’re going to throw it to get it out of the way, they’re not going with it to avoid objects.

This usually happens particularly if the cat is overweight, as running or jumping would be more difficult for it and it will not think of trying, of course.

Cats throw things when they play

 Sometimes if you have a cat, but especially if you have more than one, you will see that when they start chasing each other playing around the house, they don’t care what is in the way.

They only have attention for their wild play, and if in the middle of the race a figurine, a mirror, a picture frame or whatever falls, they don’t care!

So, sometimes cats throw things on the floor just because they are playing chase race and don’t care if something falls down in the meantime. But that’s not what we mean this time.

We mean when cats are calmly standing on a table or a shelf, or on top of the TV and with their paw they push a small object to the edge and drop it on purpose or directly propel it with a claw!

What objects do cats throw on the floor?

 Cats throw a lot of things, which are generally small and compact, such as:

  • Lighters
  • Erasers
  • Cigarette packets
  • Pens and markers
  • Metal paper clips
  • Small bottles of nail polish.

Multiple personalities, multiples reasons

-Cats throw things because in the wild they play with their prey:

cats in their natural state hunt small mammals and small birds, and before killing them they play with them.

It may sound a bit cruel, but cats enjoy playing with their wounded prey for a long time before killing them, in their perspective they feel empowered and it’s just funny for them.

The fast movements awaken the cat’s senses, and their instinct leads them to play with their paws and toss the prey in the air, pick it up again, and toss it again.

Cats use their paws to amuse themselves by catching and throwing prey or, failing that, objects.

Objects in our house replace the cat’s natural prey, and take their place when playing or entertaining themselves.

Hitting, more or less gentle swipes and using their paws to move or throw things is innate in cats. Their paws are very dexterous, and they can grasp, pick up, throw and lure prey or everyday things like a lighter with great dexterity.

Cats find it natural and easy to use their paws!

-Cats throw things if they are bored, just for fun:

while being deft with their paws and being bored, it is natural for a cat to have fun throwing things on the floor.

The less activity our cat has or if we don’t play enough with them, the more cats can get bored at home.

In these cases, they invent hobbies, try to explore new objects in the house, or sometimes do things that to our eyes seem silly.

One of them is to throw things on the floor, just to get out of their boredom and distract themselves for a while watching them move, fall and make noise. Over and over, and over.

-Cats throw things to get the human’s attention:

cats are not stupid, and if they have seen us react before, they know that we don’t like it when they throw certain things on the floor.

Sometimes it’s enough for a cat to know that you don’t want it to do something, for it to do it more willingly with a little malice inside them (it’s an attitude that children also develop). In these cases, cats throw things to get attention.

This point goes together with the previous one, maybe the cat feels bored or wants more attention and interaction with its human.

When someone scolds it, at least they are interacting with it and paying attention to it.

-Cats throw things by accident:

they are graceful and agile, they roam every corner of the house and climb everywhere. Sometimes, however, in the excitement of a game of chase, or their tail wagging, they may “drop” things.

Having a pet is like having children in the house. You will have to accept that things sometimes “fall” and break. Don’t scare your cat by scolding it.

Just avoid creating a positive association with destructive behavior in your cat. If that happens, your cat will soon be breaking anything in sight in the hope of getting more rewards.

– Cats hit things to mark their territory:

they are very fickle animals. You may buy it a comfortable bed and it decides to sleep in a box or on the floor. Likewise, it may demand anything in the house on a whim. This could include a table, like the kitchen table.

If your cat decides that a table is its property, it will not hesitate to claim it.

It will reach out and swat anything that is on it. Just know that, “it’s your fault.” After all, you are the one invading its territory with foreign objects.

How to prevent my cat from throwing things on the floor?

Depending on the reason why it throws things on the floor, you can do one thing or another.

One way to avoid this behavior is to impose a set of “must do” “rules” on your cat. Although you will have to be very consistent, there is no turning back.

For example, if your cat is not allowed to climb on tables, don’t make exceptions at any time. It will keep trying its luck, it will try many times, but you must be adamant.

Also, spaying or neutering your cat will decrease its territorial nature.


Eliminate temptation

While the goal may be to train your cat not to throw your things. An obvious short-term solution might be to know where to place your belongings.

Keep fragile items out of reach and place small items inside larger items that may be too heavy to be thrown. For example, putting plants inside a large pot, loaded with rocks, will mean your cat can’t knock the plants over.

Perhaps you could store your keys and other everyday items in a particular box by your front door which, although small, will also be heavier.

They say that people can adopt new habits in 3 months and similarly, a cat that has gone a while without deliberately throwing things away will soon kick the habit.

At the very least, it will give you time to explore some of the other solutions described below.

Let’s not make it a problem

If the cat throws everything it finds when it walks around your house, the best thing you can do is to remove everything from the places where it usually walks.

If your cat is overweight, you should follow an exercise routine and take care of its diet to lose weight.

If the problem is boredom, you will have to tire it out and play with it. You can leave it more toys and even prepare its own play area for it to be distracted.

With a scratching post it can spend hours entertained and you can also hang things for it to have even more fun.

Beware of the attention

 If the problem comes from a call for attention there are two solutions, one is to ignore the cat when it throws something and the other is to pay more attention to it.

Saying “no” is not going to do you any good, besides, your cat will get what it wants, that you pay attention to it.

If you see your cat throwing something while staring at you waiting for your reaction, don’t notice it and go on with what you were doing.

Besides ignoring it, you will have to spend more time with it, pet it and play with it, this way it will get the attention it needs without destroying anything and you will create a much stronger bond between the two of you.

In conclusion

There is a last method for certain cases, the use of a deterrent spray. You could spray a scent deterrent around any breakable object, but use it carefully! If used incorrectly, your cat may not want to be in the house anymore, so beware!

You will have to be patient in teaching your cat not to throw things. You may never be able to eradicate the behavior completely. However, by following this advice you can at least minimize it!

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