Cats can cause a bit of chaos when they decide to knock a knick-knack off the shelf or tip a cup full of water onto your laptop. It can be destructive and bothersome (and sometimes entertaining), but what motivates that behavior? The short answer is that they want your attention, they’re hungry, or they’re playing.
As you’re well aware, cats are curious creatures. If they’re repeatedly knocking an item over or batting it around, they could just be experimenting with their environment … and finding the results entertaining. However, the behavior could also be the result of their needs not being met.
Ask yourself, are they hungry? Do they need stimulation? Exercise? Cats only have a few ways of communicating with you and knocking something over might be their way of telling you they need something – especially if it’s proven effective before. Many cat owners can recall a time when they woke up to investigate a crash in the night, only to be met with a hungry kitty meowing by their bowl. When you’re asleep you can’t immediately meet their needs, so cats do what they can to address the situation.
If you want to stop it, Dr. Katherine Houpt Cornell University emeritus professor of veterinary behavior recommends you “start by keeping them off your counters, either with double-sided tape or some other means, so they can’t knock things over to begin with.” You’ll also want to make sure there are no items on the table or counter that will attract his or her attention.
It’s up to you whether you’d like to keep your cat off your counters, but if you do SAFe recommends putting up other structures for your kitty to climb. “I would encourage cat owners to put shelves and climbing structures in their homes if they limit counter space. Cats naturally want to climb and will be happy to watch the happenings of the home from a kitty-appropriate place,” says SAFe Rescue’s Adoption Center Manager, Sarah Theriault.
If you’d like to learn more about cats’ tendency to knock stuff over, check out this article from PetMd.