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Cat afraid of staircase

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
My boyfriend and I recently moved into an apartment with his 2 cats, ages 5 + 6. It's a duplex, with the 2 floors connected by a spiral wrought iron staircase. The first few days the cats hid out downstairs. There's a litterbox on each level and they are fed on the kitchen on the 1rst floor. The 5-year-old (darla), after 3 days in the apt, decided the staircase is her new jungle gym and regularly amuses herself zipping up and down it. The 6-year-old (heather) came upstairs and, as far as we can tell, has not gone back down. We're not sure if she had an unpleasant experience on the stairs while we were at work, but there's no physical reason she should not be able to go up and down the stairs, ie, she is capable of great acrobatics + feats of balance on the upper level. The problem is, she WILL NOT go down, even for meals! After 2 days of not eating, we started bringing her meals up to her, but my bf wants her to eat in the kitchen like her sister. How do we get Heather over her phobia of the metal staircase?
post #2 of 9
Maybe carry her downstairs and see if she ends up upstairs again?
post #3 of 9
You also have to ensure she eats. Cats can go into liver failure in as short a time as 48 hours if they don't eat.

I agree with carrying her back downstairs and if she goes back up then it's probably not the stairs themselves but something on the lower level that is spooking her. It also may just be a matter of giving her time to adjust to the new place.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Here are what we have tried so far:

-Putting the food dish halfway down the staircase
-putting a Pounce treat on each step leading to her food bowl
-carrying her down the stairs is proving to be difficult because she hides so far under the bed my boyfriend can absolutely not get her out.

Yes, I agree that in the interim she needs to be fed upstairs... though we don't want a cat food station set up in the master bedroom if we can avoid it.
post #5 of 9
don't rush it. if you've just moved she needs time to adjust. It's not the end of the world right now if she just eats upstairs, and she's got to eat to stay healthy. Your ideas that you've tried are all good. Maybe if she likes tuna - try opening up a can and see if the potent smell wafts upstairs and brings her down.

You've got time, just because it takes her a while doesn't mean she'll always eat upstairs. Check around your downstairs and really listen - is something making a noise that she may not have heard before. Are things REALLY different looking - like do you have all new furniture? The downstairs might smell too new. I would also suggest getting a feliway diffuser and plugging that in downstairs.
post #6 of 9
Have you tried bringing her downstairs, and leaving her downstairs, to see if she will go up the stairs on her own?
post #7 of 9
I agree to feed her upstairs for the time being. You cannot rush cats to get them over their fear of things. It could be the steps, it could be something else. I say give it more time for her to adjust.
post #8 of 9
I agree with everyone to give her some time to adjust and feed her upstairs for the time being. Cats are notorious for not eating despite being hungry. Had an old cat that didn't eat for two days because we ran out of Fancy Feast and could not get to the store! She turned her little nose up and what we did have in the house. I doubt it was a fall or anything, even when cats do take a tumble from something it usually doesn't traumatize them (I usually get the "'I meant to do that!" look, lol) Perhaps start with the food in the bedroom and slowly move it closer and closer to the stairs. You say she is hiding under the bed and you can't reach her to pick her up. Is it normal for her to dislike being picked up? It sounds like she is just getting a feel for the place and found a good hiding spot. Your bedroom smells the most like you and your boyfriend of any room in the appt. and that is reassuring to her.

PS. Congrats on the new place, it sounds nice!
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
What's been interesting about this whole move is a role reversal between the 2 cats. Heather used to be the alpha cat, with Darla being shy and hiding a lot. Now, Darla is talkative and explored every inch of the apartment from pretty early on (note, we only moved 2 weeks ago). Not sure if Heather feels traumatized from being "ousted" from her post as Top Cat.
What's also new in this picture for them, is me. They knew me from when I came to my boyfriend's other apt, but now I'm a fixture in the household. Darla has accepted this, but Heather not as much.
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