Cat knocking things off my dresser. Help!

Cat knocking things off dresser

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

This lady has become desperate to stop her cat from interfering with her sleep. Her cat’s activity is at night.

“My 12 year old cat spends all night knocking things off my dresser, my kitchen counters, shredding any paper or plastic she can find, and essentially wakes me up every 1.5 hours. 12 YEARS OF THIS! I have tried a squirt bottle, tried locking her out of the room with a white noise machine on….” (from the website)

There appears to be no health issues such as dementia. Anyway dementia would not cause this behavior. For me (and I am open to counterarguments) the cat is behaving normally or within the parameters of normal domestic cat behavior. There may be an element of ‘attention seeking behavior‘ as well. Perhaps the cat wants to get the lady involved.

Domestic cats can be active at night. This is in their DNA. Although usually the most active periods are, as we know, at dawn and dusk but this is not ‘set in cement’. There is variation.

The activities of her cat which she describes, hint to me that the cat is under-stimulated. This is a cat who wants stimulus and perhaps this is an individual cat who requires more interaction that usual. That is not being critical of anyone. I can sense that this cat is bored and is artificially creating stimuli for herself by, for example, knocking things of the dresser. This creates a flying object and some noise at the end of the ‘flight’ – a bit of artificial nature, if you like.

I have asked this lady if her cat is a full-time indoor cat. That may be a factor because it is beholden upon the cat’s caretaker to provide stimuli in the home for full-time indoor cats because the usual outdoor stimuli of nature are not present.

By outdoor stimuli I mean the sounds and smells of nature and the activities of other animals, insects outdoors. These keep a cat alert. Obviously it is not always suitable to let a cat go outdoors. It depends on the circumstances.

I have not heard a response from the lady as to whether her cat is a full-time indoor cat but my guess is that she is. Indeed my whole argument is based on it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

If she is not an indoor cat then there may be a hyperactivity problem due to hyperthyroidism causing restlessness but there are other symptoms of this condition and they appear not to be present based on the lady’s account.

As an afterthought, personally I don’t believe that trying to stop this form of behavior is wise or fair. She is punishing her cat for behaving normally, which is how I see it. Once again this is not a criticism but an observation with the intention of trying to resolve the matter.

These are my thoughts and I’d welcome the input of others because I may well have missed something.

Photo: Chris Dlugosz

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

5 thoughts on “Cat knocking things off my dresser. Help!”

  1. P.S> Cats are very intelligent. If the cat knocks off an object and each time you go after it-they will take this as approval from you the owner and knock another trinket on the floor. Each time you pick it up you are telling the cat, hey great job do that again and I [ the Kitty ] will kick it off because you want me to do it.

    I would begin also by placing small objects closer to a floor on a tray or foam floor pad.If the pet still wants to move an object they will have to move it at a lower level with a benefit> less noise.

    This is where tossing a cat toy across the floor will come in handy as a teaching tool.

    Purchase a loud alarm clock and set at the same time each morning. After a few days Kitty will begin dreading the loud alarm and try to stay asleep or leave the room voluntarily. These ideas will change a cats habits over time !! Pun intended.

    I hope this advice helps. Eva say’s

  2. I am not entirely convinced that this cat can be modified. The Lady has let it form these habits over a 12 year period_ From what I’ve learned, a cat can pick up or invent negative behaviors in less than twenty four hrs! Their habits become ingrained and are a large part of their character and form a support system for them to rely on.
    As long as the cat is comfortable with a habit-they won’t suddenly change their routine; because cats are very uncomfortable with changes of any kind.___
    Why did she wait so long to ask for advice?

    I would have to assume this cat sleeps all day indoors. If so it needs to be outside or in a different environment during the day and get it a younger baby sister or brother for day and night time companionship.

    Drape aluminum foil over the dresser as they will not walk on it unless they have to. Buy ball toys and play mice and a cat toy that spins around with a mouse chaser. Also-A scratching post.
    Does her cat sleep on the bed? Does it sleep in a pet bed ? Does it sleep on the dresser ? was it a rescue animal ? Does it want you to play with it/If you rolled an object across the floor__will kitty chase it? These remain unanswered questions.

    Bottom line: Keep this cat active and do rearrange the furniture , in this instance it may change the nightowls play habits ?

  3. Welcome to owning a cat!

    Furby knocks things down just to watch them fall or break. I quickly learned to put away all my collectibles. The only thing I found to deter this behavior is to place sharp pine cones on these surfaces and then you have to look at sharp pine cones. But it does work, especially in plants to keep cats from turning potting soil into a litter box.

    It won’t help at night, but during the day I’d suggest a bird feeder right outside a window. Our cats will take turns all day long laying on a table and watching the birds eat.

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