I've had my newest cat just a couple months. This is a female spay DSH tortie, shelter rescue, estimated age 1.5 years.

I have small tables at each head corner of my bed, holding various things on shelves at different levels, including a telephone, my alarm clock, tissues, a mini first-aid kit, books I am reading before bed, and each has a small lamp on the top. These lamps are just over a foot tall, and maybe 8 or 9 inches diameter on the shades (about 35-40cm tall, 20-25cm in diameter).

As she has become more comfortable in her new home and with me as her human, she has taken on a new hobby. The cat has been rubbing against the shades of these lamps while I am sleeping, and frequently rubbing hard enough to tip it over onto the floor. Fortunately in this age of plastic LED bulbs, there is really no harm done, though the shades might be getting lightly wrinkled. The biggest problem here is the sudden jolting awake this causes for me. Unfortunately, this means I am not really able to issue a proper corrective action.

I have noticed this happens mostly in the hour before wake-up time - 5:45 AM for me, but it has happened as early as 2 AM. I wonder if it might be a deliberate attempt to get me up for breakfast, although it doesn't work, I just put the lamp back and go back to sleep.

I considered spraying the lamps with a citrus oil, as I have used this successfully in other places. But I find that I do not like that smell either, and these lamps are very near my nose while sleeping. I also considered trying some sort of adhesive on the bottom of the lamp, but I am not sure what kind would work well, yet still allow adjusting or shifting the lamp when desired.

Has anyone had a similar situation, and any other suggestions of things to try?

Updates/response to some suggestions:

  • Screws. This would be an absolute desperate last resort in my mind. These lamps and tables have value as aesthetic as well as practical objects, and I can't justify ruining that.

  • Kick the cat out. Cat has her own bed in the bedroom, and prefers to sleep there. I have rarely rolled over to find her against my leg or around my feet. Far more often if I wake up at night, she is in her own bed. As mentioned, this cat is still relatively new to me, so this may change as we become better friends, and if so, I will enjoy it. I also prefer the air flow with the door open- it gets stuffy when closed.

  • Inverted spike-y mats. Although others swear it works, in my experience, this is a myth. My prior cat genuinely enjoyed lying on the stuff. Current cat totally ignores it. Plus, the tables are small enough and close enough to the bed to keep the lamps in scent-rubbing reach even with rear paws on the bed, and fore paws just on the edge of the table.
  • Command brand picture hanging strips. This was an excellent suggestion and I had some left over from, what else, hanging pictures. I put two pieces on the base of each lamp yesterday evening, and this morning at 5:09 AM I hear "rip - clunk - crash." Careful examination in the morning revealed the flaw - the strips have thickness, raising the lamp up by a few millimeters. Plus, these strips have a lot of "play" in them side-to-side. So when pushed in the direction opposite the axis of how I placed the strips, actually produced a levering effect making it easier to tip over. I am going to add a third strip perpendicular to the other two and try again. Fingers crossed.
  • Replace the lamps with head-board mounted kinds. I will do some shopping and see what I can come up with. My headboard is of the upholstered style, and rather thick. There are some boards along the back side I might be able to get a screw into if I pull the bed out. I'm not confident I can find anything, but I will look.

Going further:

  • Why? Is the cat just scent marking, or is she trying to wake me up either for breakfast or simple attention? So far, she has only done this at night, or at least, I have never observed her rubbing the lamps except at night. And so far, only once in the middle of the night, and far more often in the hour before scheduled alarm clock time. I really can't say for sure. Deliberate wake-up attempt is of course a valid hypothesis, but I doubt we could ever prove it. I think it best to begin by assuming (for now) it is simple marking behavior, and the tipping is accidental.
  • Is she doing it only at night? Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 15:30
  • You could find something that you're okay with her rubbing against, and seeing whether you can redirect her to that. That would give some data towards the question of whether she's doing it deliberately. Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 15:39
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    It's a cat. What did you expect? :-) . There are more internet meme jokes about cats knocking things down .... Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 15:41
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    The cat was just marking them, but then you taught them that when it falls over, you'll get up and interact with them.
    – Mazura
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 1:02
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    This is totally just marking and accidentally knocking them over. Trust me, if it was intentional... she'd make sure to stare you straight in the eye as she casually raised a paw to the lamp, and shoved. If you've never experienced this... LMAO are you in for a treat one of these days... ;)
    – JVC
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 2:53

10 Answers 10


The other answers are good, but I've had success with a more direct approach: outstubborn the cat.

Rather than trying to minimize the sound/inconvenience of the falling lamp, try to maximize it. Be creative, e.g. put a bowl with glass marbles on the lamp (I used this + a metallic plate to create a really loud and startling noise). Anything that makes a racket will do.

The idea is to teach the cat that knocking over the lamp is not nice. As you said, there's not much drawback to the cat when it gets knocked over now, so make the message clearer by making the experience even less nice.

My cat did it twice after I started using the marbles, and never again. However, you will of course not enjoy the loud sounds so it requires some tenacity from your end.

  • 54
    Out cat a cat? I don't know if that is brilliant or crazy. Probably both.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 16:57
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    @cobaltduck youtube.com/watch?v=wtXkD1BC564 Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 22:25
  • Unless the cat only does it at night, and only does it with lamps that are in the bedroom, the OP doesn't necessarily have to make the problem worse for themselves. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 23:25
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    Would also suggest using packing tape, with the sticky side up on the lamp shade. We used this to hilarious and excellent effect to discourage our cats from investigating the hamster cage (which was well secured, but why take chances) too closely. If they touch it they have harmless tape that leaves a very lasting and non-damaging impression of DO NOT WANT.
    – Marisa
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 15:34
  • Good reversed-psychology there. :D
    – Overmind
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 11:58

You have several options:

  1. Somehow attach the lamps to the table. There's many ways to go about this, such as actual hardware, or just creative use of glue or tape. This seems the most destructive and difficult solution to me, however.
  2. Replace the lamps with different lamps that the cat can't knock over, for instance, floor lamps discretely behind the table, heavier lamps that are bottom heavy so they can't be tipped, or those lamps with a bendable base that can be hooked over your headboard. Or even just get lamps that won't make much noise when knocked over.
  3. Move the lamps before going to sleep. Perhaps the simplest solution, but also somewhat annoying because you have to remember to do it every night.
  4. Keep the cat out of your room at night. Though this is a possibility, it often doesn't work out very well, because once used to going into your room, many cats will scratch and meow to get in, and you will have to accept getting no sleep until it gives up.
  5. Make the table itself unpleasant for the cat to stand on, so it won't go near the lamps in the first place. You can do this by putting double sided tape on the table, which most cats dislike as long as it's sticky enough. Or another option is vinyl carpet protectors with the teeth facing up, so it will be pokey when the cat walks on it.
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    More pleasant for the human but still absolutely the worst thing in the world (according to my cats) is regular aluminum foil. Cats hate the feel of walking on it, so you can put it down over any surface you want them to stay off. If your cats are tenacious like one of mine, you may also need to thoroughly tape it down.
    – Allison C
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 18:47
  • @AllisonC please make this an answer,it was the first thing on my mind when i did read the question,and it do realy work to keep cats off the table. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 20:49
  • My answer was going to be your second suggestion. I have a salt lamp that provides an incredibly pleasant-colored light for bedtime, and it would take notable effort from me to knock it over. To a cat, it would be a chest-high boulder.
    – MarkTO
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 22:38
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    @AllisonC: My cat dabs on and plays with tin foil (both as a sheet or a ball). Maybe not applicable to all cats. The one thing they will absolutely steer clear of is chopped onion :)
    – Flater
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 13:19
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    While onion might make some cats stay away, I wouldn't recommend using it that way as if they aren't repelled, onion is actually poisonous to cats.
    – Kai
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 14:54

If you want to attach the lamp to the table, you can try either your traditional hook-and-loop type fastener (e.g. Velcro®), or 3M has a heavy-duty variant called Dual Lock™ and I'm sure there are generic equivalents thereof. Put a couple of long strips on the bottom of the lamp, and a few short bits on the table, and you'll be able to remove or reposition the lamp, but it'll take more force — ideally enough that a cat can't do so. A larger cat might still be able to dislodge a lamp secured with traditional H&L, which is why I suggested Dual Lock as an alternative.

There are also 3M Command Strips which seem to basically be bits of Dual Lock but with the removable Command adhesive, if you want to avoid permanently sticking something to the surface of your nightstands or risking damaging the finish. I unfortunately don't know of any generic equivalents, but they do a pretty good job of holding things in place.

  • 1
    If you've got velcro, you have a solution already. A furry cat and the hook side of a bit of velcro are a marriage made in cat-annoyance heaven.
    – Graham
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 22:35
  • 3m's got a specific type of double sided tape called "VHB" holds tight unless you stretch it and holds a ton of weight. Might want to test first of course.
    – Journeyman Geek
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 6:34

Consider that the cat may be doing this for the purpose of waking you up and interacting with you--or possibly to remind you that you're wasting prime hunting time. When she does it, ignore it. If you wake up, move as little as possible, ideally don't let her know you're awake. Definitely don't rise, and don't put the lamp back or interact with her. You may find she quits doing it...possibly moving on to some other trick. The goal is for her to just give up on you as a nighttime companion, and resolve to owning the house herself for that time.

  • 2
    This is a very under-appreciated answer. As a cat owner of many years, my first instinct whenever a cat does something annoying (especially close to typical feeding times) is because it is annoying and gets you to rise / interact with her. The only way to get rid of this behavior is to ignore it completely (warning - may take a fairly long time) or make it physically impossible to perform the behavior.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 17:09

The most important tip IMHO is not to teach a cat. Especially with aggression. The cat will not understand it, but will be afraid of you, and, for example, attack your feet sometimes.

I think, it is something in cat's genetic code, to have a joy of dropping a small movable things from tables. Give a ping-pong ball to your cat and see the reaction :) The good solution is to organize the living room such that it will be impossible for cat to drop a lamp.


You could try filling the food bowl(s) before you go to bed.

I have four cats. If we all go to bed with the cats' food bowls empty or nearly so, one or more of them will wake the humans at cat-thirty (anywhere between 0330 and dawn) by jumping on counters and tabletops and deliberately pushing off noisy stuff like keys and coins and phones. Or they will find a noisy plastic bag to chew on. Or they will start a rousing game of "let's run around the bedroom until the humans yell at us."

If we feed the cats before bed, everybody stays tucked in until the more civilized hour of 0630. The cats that get cold and/or need a cuddle may crawl under the covers with the humans before then, but then they go to sleep that way and stay there until the alarm goes off.

  • 1
    Maybe. Every cat I've known prior to this one was a paced eater, basically a grazer. I knew I was feeding them enough because when it was feeding time, the bowl was just barely empty. However, this new cat is a see-it eat-it. The bowl empties within a few minutes of each feeding. I slow her down a bit by splitting half the food into puzzle feeders placed in random locations, but she finds them usually in under an hour and empties as quick as her puzzling skills allow. +1 anyway.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 12:45

If it's only the lamp, you could try to screw the base of it to the table with an electric drill.

You could also put the lamp directly on the floor when you close it before to sleep.

However if your cat is actually trying to wake you up, I'm afraid they will find something else to throw down. In a house with cats, no fragile thing should stand near an edge.. it's just too tempting for them I think :p

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    One argument I saw against Flat Earth is that if the earth were flat, cats would have knocked everything off of it by now. Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 15:37

Neither of these will work (for long) if the cat is deliberately tipping it over, but might help if it's just rubbing against it:

  • Blu tack the lamp down to the table. You'll need quite a lot but it will hold it quiet securely
  • If the base is hollow, the lamp may be almost top-heavy. Ballast at the bottom will make it much harder to tip over (tape a bag of nuts and bolts/copper coins inside the base, for example).

Alternatively don't let the cat into your room at night. If it is trying to wake you up it will just change tactics and knead you with its paws or something like that. When I had a cat she stayed downstairs overnight, and the closed door was far enough away that I didn't get woken by her complaining

  • 1
    Lamp is hollow, but the bottom covered with a felt circle. Otherwise I like this idea, and may try to cut a small slot in the felt and add some ballast, to supplement if other idea don't work. +1.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 12:57

I'm surprised no-one mentioned clamps as a potential attachment mechanism. Some clamps like you might use in a workshop would be temporary and movable if you just adjusted them.

Something like this: clamp

  • 3
    The lamp is made of turned wood- basically a wrinkled cylinder. Where might a clamp be able to make contact with it?
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 14:37
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    ...Or was this meant to secure the cat?
    – void_ptr
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 20:21

I once helped train a friend's cat out of this. Boarded the cat for a month, and set a strict policy if "if you push things off the dresser you immediately -- important word for training -- get locked out of the bedroom for the rest of the night." Took a bit of patience and persistence, but the cat got the idea that this action had consequences it didn't like, and I'm told took that lesson home with it.

Remember that sometimes this sort of thing is because the cat is trying to get your attention.Be very careful that your response discourages the behavior rather than rewarding it.

Having said that, yes, cats are like toddlers and sometimes gravity is a fun toy to play with. You have to focus on where and when specific actions are appropriate or inappropriate, and it can take a while before the cat makes the connection. Don't be surprised if the cat occasionally tests to see if the rule still holds; I had to order Harry off the dining room table about once a year.

Giving the cat other toys to play with may help, if this isn't "I'm bored and want the human to interact with me".

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