Kitty blackmail. Why do cats love throwing things off the shelves?

A plant pot flying off the shelf? It’s a classic from the cats’ book of tricks. Though the fluffy creatures can move silently and sneak by unnoticed, some cat roommates love showing their hoomans what stylish interior design really looks like and they do it with a bang, throwing some special effects into their presentation. But what really is behind their habit of throwing things off the shelves and has the unexpected passion for interior design anything to do with blackmailing the hooman? Come with us, fabCats – let’s search for answers right at the source. 

Cat’s theory of gravity – what’s left up high must learn to fly  

Cats are incredibly intelligent creatures. Sometimes they wish to hide their wisdom behind the facade of an always lazy and sleepy cat, but sometimes it’s much more fun to just show the hoomans some action. Did cats pull the idea of throwing things off the shelves from Isaac Newton? Maybe. But maybe it was a cat who bumped the apple off the tree and onto his head, helping to discover gravity in the first place? We love this idea much better and it definitely speaks volumes about cats’ nature – testing how gravity works on all kinds of items is great fun after all! 

Let’s face it, fabCats – chasing an object hit with a paw that’s rolling around the floor places high on the cats’ favourite games list. And when there’s no such objects in sight, a wise cat knows to look for them above the ground. Leaning on the theory that “what’s left up high must learn to fly”, many cats have mastered pawing on things until they fall to the floor with a beautiful telemark landing or crash hard, making the hooman’s face expression a mix of anger and uncontrollable laugh. 

Testing the limits of everyday life

People learn through reading books, going to school or experiencing things on their own. For cats, the latter takes the first and only place – all the habits, customs, preferences or fears come from the cat’s previous experiences. This is why cats love routine so much. Their thinking process is: “If yesterday the hooman played with me before breakfast and then gave me a bowl full of yummy food and I lived, today must be exactly the same. Because what could happen if there’s no playtime, the hooman wakes up late and gives me the food at 8, not 6 o’clock? Will I live?”. But how does it play into the cat’s love for throwing things off the shelves? 

Learning through experience affects one of the most important cat traits – their curiosity. Besides building up a routine around the typical everyday things, cats are generally curious about the world and if they see something new around them, they must test out how it works. Trinkets on the shelves? It’s obvious that cats could easily maneuver around them without making a sound. But what will happen if the trinket falls down? Will it live? Or maybe become a new favourite toy? Or maybe it will go up, not down this time? There’s so many possibilities and so little time to test them all out! 

Hooman, pay attention to me

Another reason for some cats to throw things off the shelves much more often than others is that, for some cats, actions like this are the best way to get their Guardian’s attention. When we work from home and the cats are bored, they desperately look for something to do and playing with their hooman would definitely make everything better. Meanwhile, we stick to typing on the keyboard and working, saying it’s “to earn for all the cat food”. And where’s the fun in that? 

Meowing – doesn’t help. Nibbling on the ankles? Doesn’t help. But if a porcelain elephant figurine brought back from holiday suddenly falls on the floor – oh, cat, we have to have a talk. And this is how a cat looking for their hoomans attention gets it all. And, of course, there will be shouting, lamenting and nervous floor sweeping, but the cat has reached their goal. The hooman left the desk and came to the cat. And maybe they can stay in the bedroom a little longer and pull out the crackling candy wrapper from under the bed, the one that rolled around the floor so wonderfully the day before? Or maybe the hooman will bring back a wand toy and let the cat catch some feathers? 

Cats will be cats

If you see things flying off the shelves daily or not, our advice here is to just let cats… be cats! It’s obviously wise to think about why your cat decided that teaching a plant pot to fly is a good idea and solve the underlying problem if there’s one, but it’s also necessary to be patient, secure the things you don’t want your cat to destroy and let them express themselves in every way possible. 

Maybe they’re simply scientists in a cat’s body and they see the theory of gravity as fascinating? Or maybe they simply use your things on the shelves to say: “Hey. I think you’re working too much and you have to find time in your routine to play with your cat”? If flying objects are an everyday occurence in your homes, let us know, fabCats, and tell us the reasons you think push your cat to do such tricks. We’ll be waiting for your answers and stories in the comments 🙂 

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