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Cats won't go down basement stairs

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi --

We have 2 indoor female cats who are about 10 months old. They are very active throughout the house, but refuse to go down the stairs into the basement (where we want to relocate the litter box). We've tried putting treats on the stairs, calling them from the basement, and carrying them down (they freak out when we do that). The basement itself is nothing special, not finished, but not scary either.

The stairs to the basement are wood and open in the back, and we're wondering if that is causing the problem. Any ideas how we can get them to go down those stairs?

Thanks --

Keith
post #2 of 14
Something smells bad to them there - it's usually the reason they won't go places, but is it the only stairway in the house? Maybe they're just not used to the idea of going 'down' without ever having gone up first. I'm not sure using force is going to be helpful though.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi --

We have 2 other staircases, and they have no problem with those. The only difference with the basement stairs is they are open. There could be a smell, but I don't think that's the problem -- they like to hang out on the landing at the top of the stairs and look down, if fact it looks like they _want_ to go down, but become hesitant about actually going on the stairs. We only brought them down once "against their will" and don't plan to do it again.

What if we covered the open part of the back of the stairs with paper so they couldn't see through?

Keith
post #4 of 14
Hmmm...this has me puzzled! I would start with covering the open parts of the stairs. Could you feed them something like canned food at the top of the stairs(or as close as they'll get to the stairs)? Then...slowly....move the food down one step at a time as long as they'll eat it? I am talking day 1, top step, day 2 step 2....as long as they'll eat it as you move it down, keep moving it down. If they don't eat it, then stay on that step until they do. I think a positive thing associated with the stairs will help.
post #5 of 14
I'm going to agree that it's probably smell, there could even be weird sounds down there - water pipes.

Have you ever noticed that some people are afraid of basements for no reason? Even when there's absolutely nothing down there to fear, maybe it can be the same with cats. Or maybe the cats know something you don't, make sure there's not a carbon monoxide from a furnace or water heater if you use gas.

If they don't like it don't force them. Besides, when you put the litter box in an out of the way place, such as a basement, you may be setting yourself up for accidents. At least one litter box for every floor the cats are on is best. If smell is an issue, try different litters and scoop more.
post #6 of 14
That might be part of it - I know open steps are a big issue with dogs - not so much the cats.

What happens if you just carry them down the steps and put them on the basement floor. Eventually they would go up and down. Maybe you could attach some carpet runners on the steps for better traction for them.
post #7 of 14
maybe its haunted
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by courtney_ou View Post
maybe its haunted

I thought the same thing.
post #9 of 14
It is funny to come across this post because I have the same exact problem with my cats with the same exact description of your basement stairs as mine.

One of my cats is named Basement, because when we got him he was in a litter of kittens we never intended on keeping kept in a huge cage in our basement for a few days. He escaped and lived in the basement for over a month we could not catch him. We fed him and had a litter box in there.

We had another kitten inside the house, and they were both black, so when we finally got Basement in the house we didn't know what to call him he so we called him "the cat from the basement" and finally just Basement.

I can understand why he doesn't want to go down into the basement, but our two dogs and our other cat will not go into the basement! We have tried everything, and no dice. They run up and down the indoor stairs with ease. I would really like to put their litter boxes into the basement, but it doesn't look like that will ever be an option. Heck I am from Florida and 30 years there we never had basements, so when I moved up north I still won't go in there alone unless my boyfriend walks down with me. Basements are scary business!!!
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Butterflyy View Post
Basements are scary business!!!
They are scary, I have always hated when I had to go into the 'basement' to get the canned vegetables.

A basement is usually underground, so there must be some scary stuff going on in the 'dirt.'
post #11 of 14
I feel for the kitty...I hate basements. My moms old house was built over a mass grave from during the civil war...Talk about freaky stuff! And go figure the biggest weenie in the whole house gets the basement bedroom. My mom thought it would be nice for me since I was the oldest and it would allow for the most privacy..Awww how considerate! Needless to say I suffered through the creepy noises and really freaky back passage way behind my room..It still gives me the heebie jeebies! My cats were always in the basement. They loved to hunt and we had a kitty door installed in a window and made stairs for them. Even now we have a fully finished basement and Herc loves to go lay looking out the sliding doors while Bruno is outside. His feline way of going "neener neener neener"....My moms cats however will not go into their basement and they have one of those creepy "guy hiding in the shadows", "Chucky under the stairs" type basement...And no back on the stairs. I havent even been down there, I dont blame their cats in the slightest for not wanting to go down there...Id def vote for a diff litter box placement. Also having a box on each floor helps. I have one upstairs were Bubba goes, and one in the downstairs bathroom for Herc..It works out well especially since Dave cleans them out every morning when he gets home from work...
post #12 of 14
i was thinking the same thing that courtney_ou and ddcats were. i myself think basements and to some degree attics are creepy and scary if they don't have every corner brightly lit. on the few occasions i was around open stairs they were only half way open(the top half had a cement wall under them) and she didn't have a problem. i don't like them but she really didn't mind. i like the feeding them on the stairs thing. my cat has always liked to crawl under the house so i doubt she would have a problem with a basement and if i had a attic with easy access she would love it.
post #13 of 14
If someone else mentioned this and I missed it, I apologize -- in a hurry here -- but please don't cover the back of the stairs with paper! The kitties might think it's solid and fall right through! You could use thin plywood, though... it would be pretty easy to screw it into place from below. Safer for everybody!

And you really should check for small gas leaks, radon, and carbon monoxide... cats are so alert to these things, that might well be the reason for their fear.

They may also sense other animals down there! Could there be squirrels or raccoons or mice nesting down there somewhere? Even residual scents from long-departed critters might alarm your kitties.

Or your basement might be haunted. I thought that, too.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
If someone else mentioned this and I missed it, I apologize -- in a hurry here -- but please don't cover the back of the stairs with paper! The kitties might think it's solid and fall right through! You could use thin plywood, though... it would be pretty easy to screw it into place from below. Safer for everybody!

And you really should check for small gas leaks, radon, and carbon monoxide... cats are so alert to these things, that might well be the reason for their fear.

They may also sense other animals down there! Could there be squirrels or raccoons or mice nesting down there somewhere? Even residual scents from long-departed critters might alarm your kitties.

Or your basement might be haunted. I thought that, too.
I never thought about the radon, gas leaks, and carbon monoxide!!!!!! Great idea to have the basement tested.

Something to think about for those who's cats will not go down into the "BASEMENT."
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