Cats are possibly the most athletic and graceful animals in the world. Certain breeds, like the Oriental Shorthair and Cornish Rex, can climb a mantelpiece full of frills without knocking a single one over. It’s one of her most impressive talents. Why is the internet filled with videos showing cats knocking things off high places like tables and countertops?
While this behavior may be funny at times, it can sometimes be harmful when something fragile breaks when it hits the ground. This behavior can also be a problem if the item is something valuable, such as your smartphone or a family heirloom. To keep your cat and household safe and happy, here are some basic cat needs to consider and how to avoid your home from being ravaged.
Cats test everything
Cats want to know the nature of everything in their territory. They want to know: can I eat this? Will that eat me up? Is this a safe place to nap? Is that a private bathroom? Is it fun to play with?
Cats test everything by sniffing at it, biting at it, or tapping their paws. And when it moves, when you hit it, they hunt it down like they’re preying on. Most of the things they strike at are roughly the size of their natural prey: mice, birds, lizards, and other small animals. Tile, wood and laminate floors are especially fun because anything that lands on them slips around if it doesn’t break.
What you can do: Tangling things around is a natural behavior for cats, and cats need to embrace it in order to thrive. Provide mouse-sized toys to whack and jump on, but keep your fragile and valuables where your cats can’t reach them.
Cats have to play
Cats love to play. In fact, they need it to stay happy and healthy. Play provides exercise that indoor cats may have trouble getting enough of. Gaming also keeps their hunting skills sharp. If you know something is moving when you hit it, take mental notes and routinely return to that point and object.
Cats are entertained by hitting and chasing things that slide across the floor; that is, until they disappear under furniture. We lost a lot of pens this way, but we always find them when we move the furniture for spring cleaning.
What you can do: Provide your cat with playtime and toys to mess around and hunt with every day. If they are playing with something they shouldn’t, turn their attention to their toys.
Cats crave your attention
Knocking on things from high places can be a sign that your cat needs more attention. If your cats aren’t getting enough attention, they can do whatever they know to get you noticed.
So if you see your cat knocking your phone off the table, chances are you’ll say your cat’s name, jump up, and pick it up. For your cat, you’ve just participated in the game and their efforts to get your attention are working, which reinforces the behavior.
What you can do: If you see your cat pushing things off the counter, ignore the behavior. This will teach your cat that this is not the way to get your attention. Wait a minute. Then, draw your cat’s attention to suitable toys and spend about 10 to 15 minutes playing with them.
Why cats don’t knock things over
I’ve always been impressed with cats’ ability to jump on an object-covered shelf or counter without knocking anything over. How can they be so graceful?
Aside from their athleticism, cats walk with a precise gait, which means that their hind paws step in the same tracks as their front paws. They also tread lightly on their tiptoes and the pads of their paws so as not to be noticeable to prey.