Cats understand gravity

Domestic cats must have a basic grasp of the existence of gravity. They don’t know the physics behind gravity but they know it exists. They also don’t know the meaning of gravity but they know damn well that objects fall down when pushed off shelves! They actually understand that this will happen with certainty. And it only happens because of gravity as humans know (or they should).

Cats understand gravity
Cats understand gravity. Screenshot from TikTok video.
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Cats knocking objects off shelves and tables is a commonly seen behaviour in internet videos to the amusement of humans wishing to be entertained by their feline friends.

The video on this page is a classic example. It highlights the fact that cats use this behaviour to explore objects as well as to animate them, to turn them into a moving prey object. There are 3 reasons why cats do this (1) entertain themselves by converting a static object into a moving one, like a prey animal (2) explore the object and (3) attract the attention of their human companion (sometimes). I believe that there is an element of boredom in this behavior. They want to create challenges and movement to replicate their natural world. It is arguably an indication of the sterility of the home as it does not replicate their natural environment.

But the most interesting aspect of this behaviour is the cat’s basic understanding that the object they are pushing off the edge will fall. They must know this will happen as they would not do it otherwise. This clearly points to a fundamental understanding that gravity exists. It must be in their DNA. It’ll be part of their evolved skills as top predators.


Wait for it 😹 #tiktokcats

♬ The Box – Roddy Ricch

Note: videos on this site are typically made by people other than me and held on YouTube servers or the servers of other businesses (not the server storing this website). Sometimes the videos are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened I apologise but I have no control over it.

The knowledge that things fall towards the ground or floor helps them understand the movement of prey animals and therefore improves their success rate in hunting. What about cats that live in trees for instance? They know that stuff, themselves and another animals fall towards the ground from trees. It is instinctive. They have no understanding of the physics but they know it happens.

I have never seen this mentioned before except I have just bumped into an unintelligible study which refers to cats grasping the concept of gravity and cause and effect. No idea what it means but I know that cats get it when it comes to stuff falling downwards. For them that is all they need to know to predict the movement of objects and prey animals.


Why do cats push things off shelves? There are 2 possible overlapping reasons.

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