Ask A Vet: Why Does My Cat Knock Stuff Over With His Paw?

| Published on August 13, 2016


Cats are the stars of many internet videos. They make us laugh as we try to imagine what they would say if they could. One of the funniest themes is “thug life” in which cats’ wantonly push items from counters and shelves and are captioned with funny and sarcastic quotes. In these videos, which we would share but they are NSFW, cats sport impassive expressions as they swat things dramatically onto the floor. The cat’s unperturbed demeanor makes them seem to be deliberately destructive (and wryly amused by the destruction), but why do they really knock things over with the paws?

Everyone knows that cats are curious, so it stands to reason that they have very active minds. When we ask them to live in our world, we limit their opportunity for stimulation as it would happen in their natural habitat with plants, bugs and prey animals to watch and stalk. Cats are bored by our sedentary lifestyle compared to what they have evolved to be. They may simply want to see what will happen when something falls.


Like a shark who may gain information about his environment through mouthing or tasting things (including humans on occasion), a cat might be trying to figure out what an item does or if it is alive. What is that? Can I chase it or play with it? What will happen when it falls?

In our human world, we are probably the most exciting things our cats see all day. Many cats stay home while their humans work or go to school, so when we are home, they look to us as a source of stimulation. Cats think it is amusing to see what their humans will do when they create an action.  We predictably respond in an comical fashion when something of ours crashes to the floor.

Whatever the real reason, cats are not likely to change their behavior and when we get over the frustration of our stuff crashing down, we can always have a good laugh making videos of our cats slapping our items and captioning what we think the cat might say!


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