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Why does my cat keep going upstairs? (How to keep a Cat Downstairs)

Humans have a love heat relationship with stairs. You may love having a multiple story home, but it’s unlikely you are a fan of the stairs themselves. Cats, on the other hand, often love stairs. You may find them hanging out upstairs, or on the stairs. 

Why does my cat keep going upstairs?

Does your cat spend more time upstairs than downstairs? Do they hang out on the stairs? Do they enjoy running up and down the stairs? There are a few reasons why cats love going upstairs. There are also some safety concerns with stairs that you should be aware of. 


You probably know that warm air rises. Your upstairs area will naturally be warmer than downstairs, because the heat from your home will rise to the top floor. 

Cats prefer warm places. This is why they will often sleep in a ray of sunshine. It’s more than just a preference, they have a different temperature need than humans. 

Our bodies are comfortable and well regulated at around 70 degrees. At this temperature, our body is not working to heat us up or cool us down. 

Your cat, on the other hand, prefers a temperature around 80 degrees. Lower temperatures mean that your cat will need to expend energy to keep themselves warm, just as we do when we are cold. 

A human’s core body temperature is around 98.6 degrees. A cat’s temperature is around 101.1. Because their core temperature is higher, they can handle hotter temperatures better than we can. This also means that their bodies have to work harder to keep them warm. 

Cats are fine at temperatures around 70 degrees, but they do prefer it a bit warmer. It’s natural for them to seek out the warmer areas of your home to get some extra heat. 

High Places 

The top of the stairs offers a high place, which is attractive to your cat. Cats love high places for a few reasons, but it ultimately comes down to instinct. It may be hard to envision your fluffy kitty as a predator, but they are. 

Your pampered pet still has wild instincts as well. When it comes to dogs, there are marked differences between the behavior or a wild dog or wolf and your domestic dog.

Cats, on the other hand, are very similar regardless of whether they are domestic or wild. Sure, domestic cats enjoy the company of humans, while wild cats don’t. Beyond that, they are much the same. 


One reason your cat enjoys being up high is safety. In the wild, cats must protect themselves from predators. One way to do so is to climb. Their natural predators are unable to climb, and lack the lightness and agility that cats have. For cats, a tree or other high place is a great safety zone. 


Cats also enjoy being up high because it makes hunting easier. Being above their prey allows the cat to pounce without being detected. 

Good View of Surroundings

High areas also provide a better view of their surroundings. This is helpful for both safety and hunting. The cat is able to easily monitor their surroundings and watch for potential predators. They can also search for prey, using their wider field of vision to find prey more easily. 

Of course, your domestic kitty doesn’t have to concern themselves with either of these issues. Even though it’s not necessary for your cat to watch for predators or hunt, it’s their instinct to do so. 

It’s an evolutionary behavior that helps the species survive. Your cat may know that they are safe and well fed within the home, but they will still have a desire to hang out up high. 

This explains why your cat may enjoy hanging out at the top of the stairs, but why do they enjoy the top floor? Your cat is likely aware that they are up higher, even if they can’t see the ground below. So, their instinct can still drive them to hang out on the upper level, for the reasons listed above. 


Cats need some quiet time, just as humans do. How much space they need will vary from cat to cat. Some cats are happy spending the majority of their time near their owners, while others prefer lots of alone time. 

Every cat needs a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the household. They need a quiet place where there’s not a lot of stimulation. If everyone is downstairs, your cat may retire upstairs for the peace. 

Cats can become overstimulated. Signs of overstimulation include tail swishing, tenseness, flattened ears, and dilated pupils. If the stimulation continues, they may growl or even bite. Before this happens, most cats will walk away to find a quiet area to settle down. 

How to keep a cat from going upstairs?

Sure your cat loves going upstairs, but there are reasons why you may not want them upstairs. It may be a personal preference to keep your cat away from your sleeping area. Or perhaps you simply don’t want them to be unsupervised. Whatever the reason, there are things you can do to keep your cat downstairs. 

Cats On Stairs

The stairs may seem benign, and they usually are. However, there are some dangerous situations that can occur when your cat is on the stairs. 

One danger is tripping you or a family member. If your cat likes to sleep on the steps, you may not see them and step on them. If they follow you, they can get tangled in your feet, causing a fall. 

The other danger is your cat falling. Cats are usually graceful and agile. However, very young or very old cats are at a risk of falling. Young cats have not yet developed their coordination. Older cats can suffer from arthritis or vertigo, which make the stairs risky. 

Give Them Another Option

Before we get into how to keep your cat away from the stairs, it’s important to consider giving them another option. Your cat loves to climb and be up high. Deterrants will be more successful if they have another way to satisfy this desire. It will also help your cat to be happy and fulfilled. 

Cat trees are an excellent alternative to stairs. They can be expensive. If it’s outside of your budget, consider making your own. You can do this with cardboard tubes and wooden pieces. There are lots of free plans online. 

You can also install a few shelves for your cat. This will provide a place for your cat to tower over everyone. Simply install several shelves so your cat can step up and down to the top shelf. 


Cats learn by association. If the cat scratches your couch and you pick them up and pet them, they will learn scratching the cat gives them what they want. On the other hand, if you make a loud noise when your cat scratches the couch, this will startle them. They won’t like this, so they will learn to avoid the behavior to avoid the consequences. 

Environmental Correction 

Cats do not possess a strong desire to please their owners. Dogs want to serve their human, but cats are more likely to expect to be served. This means that correction needs to be handled differently. If you discipline your cat out right, they may become fearful or resentful. 

The best way to discipline your cat is to allow the environment itself to do it for you. This can be done a few ways. You can create a trap of sorts to provide the correction, or you can slyly provide it yourself, hopefully without your cat noticing it’s coming from you. 


Cats have sensitive feet, and certain textures will be uncomfortable or unpleasant for them. A plastic carpet runner is an effective option. Simply turn it upside down so the plastic nubs are sticking up.

Your cat will not like to walk on this. Of course, they aren’t particularly comfortable for human feet either, at least without shoes. 

Aluminum foil is another option. However, it can create a slippery surface that won’t be safe for you or your cat on the stairs. 


Noise is an excellent way to correct cats. It will not hurt them, but it will startle them. They find this unpleasant. 

One way to use noise is to set up a trap with coke cans. Place pennies in the cans so they will rattle loudly when they are moved. You’ll need to line the bottom step with the cans for this to work, which may not be practical. 

Another method is to toss a can whenever they head to the stairs. Ideally, your cat will not connect this with you. The aim is not to hit the cat, but only to startle them with the noise. 

Motion Detector

You can also use a motion detector. However, this can also be impractical if you are using the stairs frequently. You can purchase motion detectors that make noise when motion is detected. To use this method, simply place the detector low enough that you can easily walk over it, but your cat will trip it. 


Smell repellants can be an effective deterrrant. Just like humans, there are smells that cats find unpleasant. Citrus smells great to us, but cats hate it. It’s also toxic to them. It’s likely that they hate the smell because it ensures they don’t eat the fruit, which can make them sick. 

Lemon or orange essential oils can be applied to the stairs. You can also use orange or lemon peels placed at the bottom of the stairs. Menthol scents will also repel cats. Eucalyptus, peppermint, and spearmint are all effective. 

Another option is store bought repellants. Many of these contain bitter apple as well as other smells. Simply spray it on the steps. 


There are other methods you can use to startle your cat when they head towards the stairs. One is with a squirt bottle. Cats hate water. This makes a simple squirt bottle filled with water an excellent correction tool.

Just spray them as soon as they get on the stairs. Of course, you do run the risk of offending your cat and causing resentment with this method. 

Why does my cat follow me upstairs?

My cat tends to follow me to the bathroom. I’m not sure why they choose to follow me to the bathroom, because they don’t follow me anywhere else. I chalk it up to part of being a cat mom, but I do wonder why she follows me. Your cat follwoing you upstairs is a similar behavior, which can leave you curious as to why they follow you. 

You Are the Mom

Kittens instinctively follow their mother everywhere. Once they get older, the mother cat will begin seperating herself from them. She will hiss and even smack them with a paw to get some space. Eventually, the young cats are expected to go their own way, leaving their mother behind. 

Some cats develop a close relationship with their owner, and seem to view them as their mother. In fact, actions like purring and kneading are actually behaviors kittens use with their mother. Even the most aloof and independent cat retains some affectionate kitten behavior. 

If your cat views you as its mother, it’s no surpise it will follow you everywhere. 

Wants to Play

Your cat may follow you because it wants to play. If they do not have another cat to play with, they rely on you for playtime. 


We know that negative association can be an effective training tool for your cat. However, it can also be used positively. Positive association means your cat wants to repeat the behavior because they enjoy the result. 

When your cat follows you upstairs, what do you do? Do they get to sit with you? Do you play with them or feed them? These things will create a positve association with going upstairs, so your cat will naturally follow you expecting something fun at the top of the stairs. 

Seperation Anxiety

If your cat follows you everywhere, they may have seperation anxiety. A cat that has seperation anxiety will want to be near you all the time. When you aren’t around, they will become highly upset or misbehave. 

Some cats meow excessively. Some scratch furniture or floors. Missing the litterbox is common. It’s also common for them to search for you when you aren’t there. 

How far away you can be before anxiety appears varies from cat to cat as well. Some cats are fine as long as you are in the house with them, or on the same floor as them. Others will be upset if you aren’t in the same room. 

Cats with seperation anxiety are often called velcro kitties because they stay “stuck” to their owners. 

A stressful event, a change in the household or routine, or previous abandonment can all cause seperation anxiety in your cat.