How to Solve Cat Behavior Problems

By: Dr. H. Ellen Whiteley

Dealing With Cats That Knock Things Down

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. If you cat is always knocking your books  on the floor, another cat might keep her occupied.

Most of the time, cats send things crashing to the floor in the course of vigorous play; a wild run up the front hall culminates in a ricocheting leap from floor to couch to end table, sending the intervening lamp crashing to the floor in the process. Sometimes, though, a cat will deliberately nudge an item over the edge of a shelf or table, then gleefully dash away from the resulting chaos and infuriated humans.

Is it nature or nurture? "Toying" with prey is a common behavior in feline hunters. When your cat nudges a small, stationary object with her paw, she's practicing the same behavior. Your cat's instincts tell her that paperweight or knickknack could turn out to be a mouse. Her poking paw would send it scurrying, giving her a good game (and possibly a good lunch).


However, once a cat learns that knocking something to the floor will bring humans on the double-quick, she may actually do it on purpose to get your attention, particularly if she feels that a meal is long overdue.

Give her something else to do. A bored cat will find her own ways to amuse herself and shoving things off high places to watch them drop is often one of them. Ample appropriate toys, climbing and hiding places to call her own, and a playmate -- preferably another cat -- can provide her with better options.

Take temptation out of her way. Low shelves, countertops, or tables lined with knickknacks, collectibles, or small easel-backed picture frames are an invitation to disaster in a home with cats. Anything that won't survive a trip from whatever surface it's on to the floor should be put somewhere else or surrounded by a cat-proof barrier, such as putting porcelain figurines in a glass-front case rather than on open shelves.

When to Call the Vet

This type of behavior usually doesn't require any veterinary attention. However, keep an eye on your cat to make sure she doesn't knock anything down on top of herself.

A cat who is having litter box accidents can be both frustration and messy. Learn how to curb this behavior in the next section.