fighting boredom in cats
Who, moi? Knock something over?


Cats are often called sly, mischievous, aloof, mysterious, and a whole host of other adjectives, and at any given time all of them can apply. The thing is, cats are far more misunderstood than dogs are. With dogs, you almost always know where you stand. The same can’t be said about cats. Recently, the topic of why cats knock things over was explored, and the answers varied widely without any real definitive answers. We’ve reviewed the dialogue put forth by professionals and wanted to share it with you.

Feline Behaviorists

According to Adi Hovav, senior feline behavior counselor at the ASPCA Adoption Center, this vexing behavior could be linked to a cat’s prey drive. When queried by Pet MD, Hovav said, “Cats are hardwired to hunt for their food, so knocking things over may be a manifestation of this instinct.” Amy Shojai, certified animal behavior consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, added, “Cats use their paws to test and explore objects, and the movement, sound and touch or feel of the object helps them understand what might be safe or not.”


cat behavior
I did it because I wanted to, so there!

Minxy Kittens

Sometimes, though, cats seem to be doing this to get a rise out of us. They’ll look right at you and then swat something over or bump into something, as agile as they normally are, and then just stare before bolting off as if their tails were on fire. It seems more an act of defiance than anything else. Or are they bored? Either way, it seemed intentional. I mean, we’re not talking about knocking things over during one of those spastic episodes where they’re careening wildly about the house room to room.

What’s up, Doc?

It’s been speculated that how a person reacts when something is knocked over might also contribute to the mischievous behavior. “Humans make great audiences,” Hovav continued. “Who doesn’t jump up when that glass starts to go over the edge of the table?” The suggestion is that when felines want attention, they figure out very quickly how to get it. But that’s not any different than with dogs. As the saying goes, any attention is better than no attention, no matter how it’s achieved.


cats paws
Cats use their paws to test and explore objects

Master Puppeteers

Shojai proffered the observation that, “Cats are incredibly adept at finding ways to manipulate what they want, which often comes down to: Look at me, feed me, play with me.” Another opinion on the subject is that it may just boil down to the simple fact that it’s plain old fun on their part. “A moving paw-patted object combines all of the best aspects of stalking and prey chase with the movement and tactile feel of the patted object and the final escape rush of the falling item,” Shojai continued to opine.


cats knocking things over
A bored cat can be a real handful — when they're not napping

Mental Stimulation

The long and the short of it is that keeping your feline mentally stimulated in order to battle boredom in cats could reduce this behavior considerably. Unreleased physical energy and mental boredom can lead to all sorts of undesirable behavior in almost any living creature, cats included. Make sure your cats have plenty of toys and try to schedule regular playtime with them on a daily basis in order to alleviate any boredom or depression they may be feeling.

By doing so you may save grandma’s vase or that thumbprint paperclip holder your kid made in kindergarten or any other irreplaceable object you can’t imagine living without — and if you never liked it anyway, you can always blame it on the cat.