You’ve seen it on countless videos and most likely witnessed it many times with your own cat. If a cat is on an elevated surface and there are small objects on there as well, he often can’t resist the urge to use his paw to push something over the edge.
A person who doesn’t like cats may easily explain this behavior as just a typical example of how cats are jerks intent on annoying people. Even some cat lovers may agree with that explanation but is there any truth to it? Do cats knock things over just to annoy people? Certainly not! For cats, this behavior makes sense. Here are some potential reasons why cats may knock things over:
Cats use their paws to explore and test
When a cat has captured prey, he often uses his paw to test if there’s any movement. If unsure of an object, he may also paw for exploration to check for any movement. You may often see this with your cat if he comes across something on the floor, such as a piece of food, an insect that isn’t moving or any other small object. It’s safest for him to explore the object with this paw before putting his face close to it.
A cat may also use his paw to test the water level in his water bowl. This is especially common if the water bowl is too deep and would squish his whiskers if he tried to put in his face in to drink. He develops the technique of wetting his paw and then licking the water from it.
Cats use their paws to move objects for play
There may be some objects on your nightstand or on a table that will roll if they fall to the ground. If the cat is looking for something to play with, he may test objects with his paws to see if they’re light enough to become an impromptu toy. With some objects, if they fall to the ground and roll on their side, that adds more enticement. It could even be the sound of a particular object hitting the floor that sparks play behavior in your cat.
If the problem is that your cat is knocking things off your desk such as pens, paperclips or flash drives, keep in mind how irresistible these lightweight objects must be to a cat looking for some playtime stimulation.
Boredom is probably a big factor when a cat knocks things over to engage in playtime.