i can haz glass shardz?
February 13, 2010 4:20 PM   Subscribe

Help me stop my cat from tipping over drinking glasses filled with liquid (water, beer, wine, milk, etc). She does it for the lulz. This shit has to stop.

I love my cat. I think she loves me. She's awesome. She's never scratched anyone, and she'll let you pick her up and hold her on her back, cradled in her arms, while you scratch her tummy. She'll purr really loudly and will even fall asleep in this position. It's sweet.

But fuck this cat. Seriously. Not a damn day goes by without this cat knocking over a glass. She's fascinated with water/liquids. At best, I have to grab a towel and wipe up a little water. At worst, I have to explain to my wife how red wine was spilled on her sweater while I was folding laundry, and why the last Riedel wine glass broke.

She doesn't do it because she's thirsty. She has a full water bowl and she'll still knock over glasses.

I've tried training the humans in the house to just not leave glasses unattended, but it's just so natural to set your glass down on the table or counter instead of bringing it into the bathroom with you.

I've tried squirting her with a water bottle, but that only works when I catch her doing it. Usually, we don't know this is happening until we hear the liquid dripping onto the floor or the glass shatter.

Hope me!
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints to Pets & Animals (53 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I have four cats and luckily they don't break glasses on purpose. If you piss them off, they will break other stuff on purpose, though.

Unfortunately, I think this is one of those "train the people, not the cat" things. It's just not possible to keep your curious kitty from doing it!
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:28 PM on February 13, 2010

I feel your pain, man. I do. I have who has broken more glasses than I can recall. They're cats--this is what they do. They're being kitties!

The only solution is to put your drinking glasses where kitty cannot get them. Because kitty will not stop knocking them over. Ever.

It took a fried iBook to solidly teach me this lesson. Learn from my idiocy.
posted by gsh at 4:33 PM on February 13, 2010

Yep, unfortunately, you'll have to train the humans. My little idiot woke me up this morning by knocking down an (empty) glass from my nightstand. She does it when we're sitting RIGHT there. She does it when we forget to put a glass away and we're not.

I love my cats, but I've just accepted that their presence in my life means wanton destruction of my nice things. It's just like, essential cat behavior.

Little shits.
posted by sugarfish at 4:39 PM on February 13, 2010

I live in a home where we have no posters or art on the walls, because the cat jumps up and pulls them down. We cannot leave anything small on any flat surface or she will bat it to the floor. We cannot have live plants, or fresh flowers, in the house, because they will be destroyed. I cannot pursue several hobbies in the house because the cat interferes. Consider yourself lucky.
posted by The otter lady at 4:43 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ferrets do this, too. The only thing you can do is stop leaving glasses and open containers where she can get to them. Bottles with lids otherwise.
posted by dilettante at 4:46 PM on February 13, 2010

My cat used to do this. Then I bought her her own water fountain. Friends laughed at me. "You bought a *water fountain* for your *cat*?" That didn't completely stop her, but it's been a really long time since she last knocked over a glass in search of "fresh" water (the water in the bowl? That's not fresh enough, even if you just filled it).

The water fountain plus training the humans should help. Also: wide base glasses/cups, the kind that are meant for boats/cars. Those are really hard to tip.

Good luck.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 4:47 PM on February 13, 2010 [14 favorites]

Are you sure she's not thirsty? My kitten knocks over glasses/puts her head in glasses when she has a full bowl of water, but it's not cold enough for her, or she doesn't feel like drinking out of the bowl.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:47 PM on February 13, 2010

Replace all drinking glasses with tip proof mugs.
posted by orme at 4:49 PM on February 13, 2010

Yep, you're going to have to put everything in bottles or travel cups.
posted by BoscosMom at 4:54 PM on February 13, 2010

It warms my heart to know that there are other humans that have to tolerate this. EIGHT YEARS, it's been going on here. I've yet to find away to satiate his need to watch liquid spill. He's not thirsty, he's just an asshole*

* a very cute asshole, but an asshole all the same
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 4:57 PM on February 13, 2010

Seconding LOLAttorney2009, a lot of cats are averse to still water, one of mine was always shoving his water bowl around to make it slosh over the floor - he still tries to shove the fountain a bit but it's too heavy for him to tip over. So, giving your cat some running water to play with might cure him of some of the glass-tipping.

How old is your cat? Could be something kitten-ish that she'll outgrow. Or, is she a lone cat that's getting bored/neurotic from being isolated? My first cat started getting wiggy/destructive from being alone all day, and mellowed out considerably once I got a second cat.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:04 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

oh we totally solved this.

after the cat broke every single piece of glassware in the house, we only bought plastic or polycarbonate tumblers. drink beer and wine out of the bottles. never let a drink out of sight. guests are reminded to tote their drinks with them, wherever they may wander.

in only her first year on this earth, she broke an 18-piece set of Libbey glass (not that it was any good, but it was a set), six balloon wineglasses and four matching thin-walled, promotionally screened, 17-ounce Guinness pub pints. beautiful glasses. cut her paw on the last one.

I took her to the vet, who rummaged in the cut pad for a moment and concluded she wasn't carrying any slivers, then bandaged her to the elbow and gave her back to me. when I got her home, I noticed she had worked the bandage almost all the way off, so I took her back to the vet (about a mile away) for rebandaging.

He wrapped her paw up again, this time running the adhesive tape up to her shoulder. she had it off before I could load her carrier into the car, so back in we went. he wrapped her again, this time with a couple of bonus loops up over her head and around her other armpit. she had that off before I could get her off the table and into her carrier.

Vet looked at me, I looked at him.

"Well," he said. "I don't guess she's too bad hurt, do you?"

She'll be 16 this year.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:04 PM on February 13, 2010 [41 favorites]

Our cat does this with wastebaskets. All over the house, no wastebasket must be left standing. I absolutely agree, the humans need to learn from their mistakes here. If there is a glassknocker in the house, best to guard the glasses rather than attempt to change your knockers, as it were.
posted by fish tick at 5:06 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

We don't use glasses at home anymore for this reason. We drink water out of cappable bottles or travel mugs -- nothing a curious snout or paw can get into. Our cats are old now, but they've done it all their lives, so I'm not sure yours will grow out of it either.

And still the cats would rather drink out of fetid puddles rather than their water fountain or two big bowls that are replaced regularly. Go figure.
posted by vickyverky at 5:12 PM on February 13, 2010

Mine does this too, and is thwarted when we balance a remote control on top of the glass.
posted by something something at 5:20 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

doug, who died in '05, used to do something like this. he liked watching the liquid move and flow, i think.

i used to have a pressure-feeder water bottle for him, but he would use his paw to lift the bottle from the dish, thereby breaking the seal, and watch water go everywhere.
posted by patricking at 5:22 PM on February 13, 2010

mine likes to stick her hand in the glass, get it wet and then lick the water off. She always misses the opening the first couple of times, and that has resulted in some glasses being knocked over.

She has a water fountain that she uses all the time, so it's not that she's thirsty. I think she just wants to know what's in there.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 5:29 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

You`re probably fully aware of this, but a lot of people put the cat`s water dish next to the fud. Most cats, however, prefer to drink far from their fud, and a bowl in the bathroom (if the toilet is verboten) is a good idea. Might keep her from seeking other liquids, a bit, if you`re not already doing this.
posted by fish tick at 5:31 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

My cat attempts to drink out of every cup of water that's partially full and left unattended. I just got into the habit of turning them upside down when I've finished drinking out of them and finding a place that she can't get to when I'm out of the room even for a minute.
posted by _cave at 5:33 PM on February 13, 2010

Nthing the water fountain! I have a Maine Coon, and they like to put their paws in the water and tip it over. He still puts his paw in the water fountain, but cannot and does not tip it over, and since it is constantly gurgling and spouting, it is far more interesting than our drinking glasses.

We have two fountains, actually, since we have three cats. That cat on the first fountain's box looks JUST like my Maine Coon.
posted by misha at 5:38 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:52 PM on February 13, 2010 [22 favorites]

Response by poster: so thanks for the answers.

i was hoping "re-train the humans" wasn't the best answer, but it seems like it is.

i'll try the water fountain, because she's occasionally woken me up at 3:00am because the fresh water in her bowl wasn't fresh enough.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:54 PM on February 13, 2010

I keep a glass in the bathroom next to the sink for the girls, because they prefer it to their bowl. I refill it every time I go in there, and if I forget, one of them will just up and glare at me until I do it.

I also haven't fixed the drip in the tub faucet for the same reason. They enjoy it so much...
posted by restless_nomad at 5:57 PM on February 13, 2010

I would set up glasses for her to knock down, then hide and lie in wait. When she gets close to knocking one over, I'd spray the crap out of her with a water bottle. Repeat as necessary. FWIW, I am a dog owner.
posted by gnutron at 5:58 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

My cat does this, too. One time we left a glass of water standing next to my husband's laptop. Bye-bye, 2 grand! Not only did this ruin the laptop completely, but it caused an electrical fire that discolored the wood across the dining table wherever water hit it.

We bought plastic cups after that, but the LEAST of my worries was a mere broken glass at that point.
posted by sickinthehead at 5:59 PM on February 13, 2010

she's occasionally woken me up at 3:00am because the fresh water in her bowl wasn't fresh enough

see? you're coming along just fine!
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:59 PM on February 13, 2010 [4 favorites]

FWIW, I am a dog owner.

And it shows! Just kidding. Sort of. Cats are too clever/daft to be trained!
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:00 PM on February 13, 2010

Also, do not make a big deal out of the things she does tip over.

When you say stuff like: "WHY DID YOU DO THAT YOU STUPID CAT?!" All they understand is: ooh, I did that and look, I got attention! ^_^ Must remember for future use..

Mine grabs socks or hair ties.. tissue paper.. anything she can carry and the moment you go: ">_<>
So I just learn to put things away when I can.. and pick the hair tie off the kitchen floor if it makes it there.

Sometimes the best way to train a cat (or at least my cat) is to learn to ignore her.

This on occasion does backfire.
posted by royalsong at 6:02 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: FWIW, I am a dog owner.

Yeah, I tried that. She just stares at me like "what" until I get bored and figure she just wants to be on the table, so I stop watching. Then she knocks the glass over.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:03 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

oh boo. Metafilter evidently doesn't like my angry emoticon. Whenever I yell at my cat for carrying things off, she flees with it in tow so you can go chase her.
posted by royalsong at 6:05 PM on February 13, 2010

We got a water fountain to help with a case of interstitial cystitis (urine retention), and the cats love it. The bubbling, the flowing, the hidden springs of joy... whatever it is, it's made all the difference in their drinking habits, as evidenced by roughly double the clumps in the litterbox.
posted by fatbird at 6:29 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

I had a cat who would do this, only with beer. He would hunt down open bottles, smack them with his tail a few times and frantically lap at the puddle while people raced to contain him/find towels to wipe up the spill. Retraining people was the only option. That cat was such a beerhound.
posted by rhiannon at 6:54 PM on February 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

My cat likes to do this. She's fastidious about keeping her paws clean in fresh water. A few years back, I started putting lemon wedges in my water to prevent her from wanting it. I also kept a small mug of water for her that was impossible (ok, difficult) to tip over.

I got out of the habit of putting lemon in my water, but it worked pretty well. I now keep a bucket or large, low tupperware for her to do her washin' in. She still tips over cups now and then, but more for that feline satisfaction than the need for flowing water these days. It's less frequent than it used to be.
posted by inkytea at 7:08 PM on February 13, 2010

Best answer: Start squirting the humans that are leaving glasses around. At least they understand what you're trying to achieve, which the cat does not. Or possibly it's more that the humans care and the cat does not, either way same result.
posted by shelleycat at 7:17 PM on February 13, 2010 [23 favorites]

Well, no cat owner will be happy with this, but: The first step is to lose the mythology that cats are inherently untrainable. A lot of the joy of cat ownership is tied up in this mythology (part of why cat people prefer cats to dogs is that they can justifiably take a more relaxed attitude about training), so that's harder than it sounds. And, yes, cats are more difficult to train than, say, most dogs. I assume you're interested in specific techniques, ideally techniques that don't require a lot of attention and effort on your part. So:

The first, easiest, and cheapest thing I'd try is aluminum foil. Lots of people use this to train their cats to stay off counters (the cats don't like the way it feels), so just modify that by always setting glass on a largish aluminum foil coaster. Mixed reports whether the foil works better when smooth off roll, or crumpled and than smoothed.

If that didn't work, I'd probably put a trapdeterent on top of the glass. First, I'd try foil over the top, with a bit splayed out so the cat encounters the foil long before touching glass. Thanks to something something's report, I'd try a remote control before escalating to mouse traps. I'm not as squeamish as most about mouse traps, but I'd still probably go for the glue traps (verify that alcohol works as a solvent (it does on the super-sticky glue that hospitals use on humans to attach sensors)), rather than the spring traps. However, there are some super-safe spring traps here (or make something using clothes pins).

Further ideas summary: scat mats, citrus (cats dislike), sticky tape, special collars, motion activated holiday decorations that make a noise and move around.. Or, you could go full-bore (I'd probably just use motion-activated lights, myself..)
posted by Tuesday After Lunch at 7:32 PM on February 13, 2010 [8 favorites]

Or, you could go full-bore

needs NSFD (not safe for drinking) tag
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:01 PM on February 13, 2010

We started keeping a water bowl on the computer desk for one of our cats who was older and wanted some peace. She loved it when I would pour her some water out of glass since it was something the other cats didn't have and cold. She was as excited about it as kitty treats.

It got her to stop putting her paw in my glass. Instead she'd start to put her head in the glass to give me the hint and then back off. She passed away last year and our other girl cat has taken over the desk to get away from the guys and the "I'm special because you give me your water" effect lives on. I never realized cats loved cold water that much.

Anyway, my suggestion is putting a couple water bowls in high spillage areas such as the bathroom or desks and share your water. Also get some no-spill or sippy cups for a while and hopefully the cat will get decide it's not worth it and you can safely switch back. Good luck!
posted by stray thoughts at 9:10 PM on February 13, 2010

I've heard good things about Duralex Picardie tumblers.
They're tempered, like your car windows, so besides being drop resistant they break into small rounded won't cut your feet pieces if kitty knocks them off the table one to many times.

Probably not the solution you're looking for, but at least it'll help with the pain and misery.
posted by Redmond Cooper at 9:28 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ours stopped with the liquid fascination once we did two things: got a smaller water container (he doesn't like big bowls; a ramekin is his preferred size), and then hid it behind an end table in the living room instead of in the dining room with his food.

We hit on the idea one year when we could NOT make him stop drinking all the water out of the christmas tree stand. No matter how we wrapped the thing up, he found a way in and drank all the water. I put a small dish of water under the tree for him and that was all he wanted. Later when we took the tree away, I kept putting the dish in little hidey places for him. He barely touches the regular bowl of water in the dining room, even though I keep putting it out. The best result (or maybe coincidence) is, he hasn't knocked over a glass or bottle since that Christmas.
posted by ctmf at 9:32 PM on February 13, 2010

My cat does this, but only with glasses of water and only when they are on certain surfaces. So I bought some lidded cups with straws. I guess I got trained.

Once, after I complained jokingly to my friend that I wished my cat would get a job, she replied that hers have a vocation called "Gravity Tester". I guess they're employed in physics.
posted by marylynn at 9:33 PM on February 13, 2010

Get some press 'n seal and put it over the top of your beverage containers when you leave them on cat-accessible surfaces. (Elegant, I know. But hey, no spilled liquid.)

Magnetize your drinking containers and put a magnetic sheet on surfaces where you'll set them.

A word of warning: my cat had a water fountain, and used to repeatedly stick his paw in it, remove the paw, and shake it vigorously, proceeding to splatter water everywhere. Put it somewhere water-splatter friendly.
posted by sentient at 10:30 PM on February 13, 2010

Couldn't you just train your cat to stay off of tables and counters? It's a territorial thing, which I'm sure it will understand.

And, just to taunt you, here's a video of a Russian cat circus, with perfectly trained felines.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:42 PM on February 13, 2010

My cat used to do this when it was bored. Although it was allowed outside, it would start "having fun" in the house during cold winter days. Like jumping on the shelf with my parents' ceramics collection and....

Have you tried playing with it (a lot)? Could it possibly go outside and do something more productive like...catching mice?
posted by The Toad at 2:26 AM on February 14, 2010

If it's very reliable, you could put something that cats dislike in one at let it get a mouthful. Hot pepper works on plants you don't want them to chew.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:17 AM on February 14, 2010

posted by kch at 9:18 AM on February 14, 2010 [7 favorites]

My cat did the same, until I poured about a quarter cup of water on him every time he tried it. Sounds mean, but its the same principle as using a squirt gun, only effective. Anything less and he shrugs it off. Took him five tries, and he figured it out. Not the smartest one either.

I agree about the fountain. My cats were always drinking out of cups until I got a Cat-it. Now they use either that or a convenient aquarium. And my glasses stay upright and cat spit free.
posted by gilsonal at 10:05 AM on February 14, 2010

Hot pepper works on plants you don't want them to chew.

for values of cats who don't like hot pepper. mine does.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:13 AM on February 14, 2010


She's not even drinking. Like I said, for the lulz.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:56 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

for values of cats who don't like hot pepper. mine does.
Mine too. And curry. She's also not repelled by citrus.

Mine quit knocking over sodas after attempting to drink one made her sneeze. She's also been better about leaving our drinks alone since I got her a large heavy ceramic mug of her own. My cat's problem was wanting to drink whatever I was. Sounds like yours just wants attention though.
posted by MuChao at 11:24 AM on February 14, 2010

In Indiana, theres a Prison that allows inmates to keep cats. You can read a cat-blogger's visit, where she talks about the transformational effect it has on the prisoners, and the way all the inmates care for the cats, even the ones that aren't theirs. One example is one cat's preference for ice water. People will come by, and put a few ice cubes in her bowl through out the day.

What I'm saying is, put your cat in prison.
posted by fontophilic at 8:01 AM on February 15, 2010 [8 favorites]

thank you fontophilic
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:06 AM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: oh for fuck's sake. she just knocked two bottles of wine off the table, smashing them on the kitchen floor. i need to look for alternatives to curb this behavior. it seems to happen when she's in her playful/curious mood, so if i can recognize that maybe i can distract her. that, and cat-proof the house.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:59 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is your response to this behavior always so hilarious? Because if I were a cat, I would knock things over in your house too. Don't leave liquids unattended--sorry about your wine.
posted by _cave at 8:38 AM on February 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

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