By Sally Salopek
Q: We have a cat named Charlie who is always knocking things off of shelves and counters. Some of the things have broken, like a glass. Is there any way we can stop Charlie from this bad habit?
A: Sometimes cats will send items crashing to the floor because of vigorous play, like jumping from the floor to an end table and knocking off a precious knickknack or family photo.
Is Charlie deliberately pawing at an object to knock it off a shelf? If so, this is a common behavior in felines. They like to toy with their prey by nudging it with their paws. Pushing stationary objects around and off of shelves is one way they practice this instinct. Once an object falls to the ground kitty may have hopes it will run away and he can chase it.
Sometimes a cat will learn that knocking something to the floor will get their human to come running, so they do it on purpose to get your attention, especially if a meal is overdue.
If Charlie is bored, this may be a way to amuse himself by watching things fly through the air. It may be time for new toys. It is always a good idea to rotate your cat’s playthings because they can become bored having to play with the same toys daily. A cat tree he can climb with his own toys on it to knock off may help. If Charlie is an only cat, a playmate may be the answer, preferably another feline. It is also important that you interact with Charlie on a daily basis by playing with him.
If Charlie is an older cat, it might be that his eyesight is failing him and he has a hard time judging distances. So when he jumps up on a shelf, he accidentally knocks something off.
Putting your most prized possessions away where Charlie can’t get them is the only surefire way to protect your treasures. Keeping breakables, like glasses, off of counters may also protect kitty from harming himself.
I hope some of my suggestions will help keep Charlie safe and happy.
Sally Salopek is the owner and operator of Attend-A-Pet pet sitting services in northern Door County. She has also worked professionally with animals in health care, pet grooming, training, wildlife rehab and rescue. Send your pet-related questions to her at [email protected]