Why Do Cats Purposely Knock Things Off Tables?

Cats, they do the darndest things - like knock everything in existence off the table. 

If you're a cat owner (or have ever seen a cat video on the Internet) you know this strange attraction to knocking perfectly innocent objects over is all too common in our mischievous four-legged friends. There are tons of videos and GIFs to submit as evidence for these catty crimes. 

This odd and sometimes frustratingly entertaining behavior has long stumped us humans. Why do cats do this weird and potentially property-destroying thing? Are they secret scientists testing to see if gravity still works? Unfortunately, no. But the answer is a lot sweeter (and slightly more manipulative) than you'd think! They do it to get your attention.  

“A lot of cats knock things over because they have learned it is a quick and easy way to get their human’s attention,” cat researcher Mikel Delgado told Inverse. “This behavior typically stems from boredom and/or a failure of the owner to acknowledge cats for ‘good behavior.’”

Cats are intelligent creatures that learn the tricks and trades of getting their way with astounding ease, so this attention-grabbing technique shouldn't really come as a surprise to most cat owners. 

But there might be even more to this odd cat behavior than just asking for attention. It is linked to their hardwired hunting instincts.

Cats are natural-born hunters who, even as indoor critters, never lose that wild instinct to hunt prey. By tapping on objects with their paw, they're testing if it's alive - and potential prey. 

“Your cat’s instincts tell her that paperweight or knickknack could turn out to be a mouse,” Dr. H. Ellen Whiteley told HowStuffWorks. “Her poking paw would send it scurrying, giving her a good game (and possibly a good lunch).”

So how does this information help stop your cat actively shoving innocent knickknacks from your countertops? If you can better understand why your cat is doing the things she does, you can form a game plan.

Cat researcher Delgado suggests spending more time playing with your cat - which we always want to encourage here at Meowingtons - to not only give your cat exercise but also to stimulate their brains; whether this is through something as simple as a food puzzle for food-motivated felines or some hands-on playtime with interactive cat toys if you're not at home during the day. 

Other techniques include clicker training your cat to counteract the unwanted behavior. Or more simply, if your cat's knocking stuff over to get your attention - just don't reward this behavior:  don't react. It's easier said than done, especially if said cat is knocking over a precious heirloom. 

When it comes down to it, it's hard to tell what's really going on in the minds of our feline friends. But the thing to know is they're not being jerks; they're just being cats.

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