How to Keep Cats From Going Upstairs: Tips and Tricks

Last Updated on: April 30, 2024

The stairs-cats relationship is a complex one because cats are curious creatures by nature. Their penchant for exploration often leads them to venture into areas of your home that may be off-limits. One such area that many cat owners prefer to keep cat-free is the upstairs part of their home. 

Whether it’s because of a baby, allergies, or simply to maintain a more organized living space, keeping your feline friend downstairs can be a challenging task. 

However, with a few creative solutions and the right tools, you can successfully keep your cat from going upstairs while ensuring their comfort and happiness.

Below, we discuss how to keep cats from going upstairs. 

Baby Gates and Pet Gates: Classic Solutions

Pet gates are similar to baby gates but are designed with pets in mind. These gates often have a smaller, pet-friendly door built into them. This allows your cat to pass through while keeping the main stairway blocked off. Look for an adjustable and sturdy pet gate available at pet stores or online retailers.

Alternatively, baby gates are a versatile and reliable solution for restricting access to certain areas of your home. You can use it to keep both babies and pets safe. Regarding cats, a gate can be an effective tool for preventing them from going upstairs. 

Here’s a closer look at using gates to keep your cat from venturing upstairs:


Gates and pet gates are typically pressure-mounted or hardware-mounted. Pressure-mounted gates are easy to install and do not require any drilling or permanent fixtures. They are held in place by pressure applied to the sides of the gate against the walls or door frame. 

Hardware-mounted gates, on the other hand, are securely attached to the wall or door frame with screws and brackets, providing a more stable barrier.

Physical Barrier

Gates serve as a physical barrier, creating an obstacle that your cat cannot easily bypass. They are available in various heights and widths to accommodate different spaces and needs. When selecting a gate for keeping cats downstairs, consider a gate that is tall enough to prevent your cat from jumping over it.

Slats Orientation

It’s generally advisable to choose a baby gate with vertical slats or bars rather than horizontal ones. Cats are agile climbers, and horizontal bars provide footholds that may tempt them to scale the gate. 

Vertical slats make it more difficult for them to climb or grip the gate, making it a more effective deterrent.


Look for a baby gate with adjustable width to ensure they fit your specific doorway or stairwell. This adaptability is essential for accommodating various spaces within your home.

Training and Positive Reinforcement

To help your cat adapt to the presence of the gate, you can use positive reinforcement techniques. Reward your cat with treats or praise when they stay downstairs and avoid attempting to cross the gate. Over time, your cat will associate the area with positive experiences.

Double-Sided Tape and Aluminium 

Using double-sided tape and sticky solutions is a non-invasive and low-cost method to deter cats from going upstairs. Cats are known for their sensitivity to textures and discomfort. These sticky solutions can be quite effective in discouraging them from climbing stairs or accessing prohibited areas. 

Here’s more information on how to implement this approach:

Sticky Solutions

  • Application: Double-sided tape is readily available at most stores. You can apply strips of it on the first few stairs, ideally covering the entire width of each step. Make sure the tape is firmly adhered to the surface.
  • Consistency: Consistency is key with this method. Make sure the sticky tape remains sticky over time by replacing it when it loses its adhesive properties. Some cats may need more time to associate the unpleasant experience with the stairs, so patience is essential.
  • Supervision: During the initial stages of using double-sided tape, it’s advisable to supervise your cat to ensure they do not harm themselves or ingest the tape. Most cats will avoid the taped areas after a few encounters.

Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is another texture that cats often find uncomfortable to walk on. You can lay strips or sheets of aluminum foil on the stairs. The foil’s noise and crinkly texture can deter cats from venturing further up.

  • Noise and Texture Aversion: Cats are sensitive to both noise and texture, and aluminum foil combines both aspects. The sound it makes when they step on it, coupled with the unusual feel beneath their paws, can discourage them from using the stairs.
  • Temporary Solution: Keep in mind that foil is a temporary solution, as it may not retain its deterrent effect for an extended period. Cats may become accustomed to the foil over time. However, it can be a useful method to deter your cat initially.

If aluminum foil doesn’t work for your cat, experiment with other textures such as a plastic wrap or shelf liner. The key is to find a material that your cat finds uncomfortable and aversive.

Create an Enticing Downstairs Environment

Creating an enticing downstairs environment for your cat is a proactive and positive approach to keeping them from going upstairs. Cats are more likely to stay in areas where their needs are met and where they can engage in enjoyable activities.

Litter Box

Start by ensuring that your cat’s litter box is in an easily accessible and clean location downstairs. Cats are creatures of habit and prefer to have a designated spot for their bathroom needs. Regularly scoop the box and change the litter as needed to maintain cleanliness.

Food and Water

Place your cat’s food and water dishes downstairs as well. Provide fresh water daily and feed your cat a balanced diet according to their age, weight, and dietary requirements. Consistency in meal times can help establish a routine and keep your cat downstairs.

Cat Tree

Cat trees are fantastic additions to your cat’s environment. They offer opportunities for climbing, scratching, and perching. Look for sturdy cat trees with multiple levels and scratching posts to keep your cat entertained and engaged. 

Placing it near a window can also provide your cat with a view of the outside world, which many cats find fascinating.

Designate a Room or Safe Space

Consider designating a specific room or area on the ground floor as a safe space for your cat. A laundry room or a spare bedroom can work well for this purpose. Outfit the space with all the necessary amenities and ensure it’s comfortable and inviting. This way, your cat has a cozy spot to call their own without needing to venture upstairs.

Also, consider adding a scratching post, or interactive toys to keep your cat entertained and engaged downstairs. A happy and contented cat is less likely to try and explore upstairs.

Motion Detectors: Active and Passive

Motion detectors, both active and passive, are advanced technological solutions that can help in keeping cats from going upstairs. 

These devices are designed to detect motion and can be utilized to create an invisible barrier that discourages your cat from accessing restricted areas of your home. 

Here’s a closer look at these high-tech options:

Active Motion Detectors

  • How They Work: Active motion detectors emit a continuous beam of light, typically in the form of an infrared or laser beam. When something, in this case, your cat, crosses the beam, it interrupts the light, triggering the motion detector.
  • Alert Mechanisms: They can be connected to alarm systems or deterrent devices. When your cat crosses the beam, it can trigger an audible alarm, a loud noise, or even flashing lights. Some systems may also notify you remotely through a smartphone app.

Passive Motion Detectors

  • How They Work: Passive detectors use infrared technology to detect changes in heat or movement within a designated area. When your cat enters the monitored zone, it triggers the sensor.
  • Alert Mechanisms: They can be connected to various alert systems, including alarms, sounds, or even a gentle burst of air from a device like an air canister or air blower.

When using motion detectors to keep your cat from going upstairs, it’s important to consider the following tips:

  • Introduce your cat to the motion detector gradually. Allow them to become familiar with the device without triggering it, so they don’t associate it with a negative experience.
  • Ensure that the sensitivity settings are appropriate for your cat’s size and movements. You don’t want the device to be too sensitive, triggering false alarms, or too insensitive, allowing your cat to pass by unnoticed.
  • Pay close attention to how your cat reacts to the motion detector. Some cats may quickly learn to avoid the area, while others may become stressed or anxious. If your cat exhibits signs of extreme stress, consider alternative methods.
  • Combine with Positive Reinforcement: To make the downstairs area more appealing, use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, or play to encourage your cat to stay in the desired space.

Regularly check and maintain the motion detector to ensure it functions correctly. Change batteries and clean sensors as needed.


Keeping curious cats from going upstairs can be challenging, but it’s achievable with the right tools and strategies. Opt for physical barriers like gates and pet gates, employ deterrent methods, or create an enticing downstairs environment for your feline friends. Your goal is to keep them safe and content while respecting the boundaries you’ve set. 


Are there any natural deterrents to keep cats from going upstairs?

Yes, there are natural deterrents like double-sided tape, aluminum foil, and citrus-scented sprays that cats often find unpleasant.

Is it safe to use motion detectors to keep my cat from going upstairs?

While motion detectors can be safe, they should be used with caution because some cats may find the alarms stressful. Monitor your cat’s reaction and adjust the settings accordingly to ensure their well-being.

Can a cat jump over a stair gate?

Yes, some cats can jump over stair gates, depending on their agility. To prevent this, consider using a taller gate or additional deterrents like double-sided tape or motion detectors.

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