HomeCat photographyIs this cat moving up or down the stairs? I know


Is this cat moving up or down the stairs? I know — 31 Comments

  1. Yeah_Sandra, I have wondered about the view from the top of the stairs as well. I suppose the original photographer is having the last laugh ? Will he make a final statement? Stay tuned and sharpen your claws-meow-

  2. None of these pictures show the stairs from the top landing, looking down. (at the cat coming up!) Anyone wonder about this?

      • You’re probably right that it wasn’t originally meant as a riddle. Glad to see another reader sees what I mean by the picture not being taken from the top landing, showing the cat moving up the stairs.

        • There is an article on CNET about a professor’s analysis of the picture and he waffles on and comes to no conclusion, which I find very strange because to me the answer is not in philosophy or how the eye sees objects but in the way builders build staircases!

  3. In the case of the cat going down it`s left paw is against the vertical part of the stair which would give no footing and the other paw is in the air. The cat would loose it`s balance. It`s usual that the edging juts out at the top of the vertical surface increasing the area of the flat surface and protecting the edge, but usual doesn`t apply in every case. I have seen things ten times more odd than putting an edge on top of the footing of a stair. My house in Cyprus was built mostly whilst I was absent and I found the kitchen door to outside opened onto a five foot vertical drop, and the 6 x 3.5 meter kitchen had a very small window more suitable for a small bathroom. Doors open the wrong way so that the light switch is behind the open door.Perhaps this photo was chosen because of the strange placing of the edging to lead one astray. That is only to be expected in a photo meant to puzzle, otherwise it would be too easy. If the stairway is very steep the footing space by necessity must be very narrow. This is probably a staircase that is little used and being less than perfect is not so important. There is not even a handrail and the wall finishing is very rough.

    • Harvey, it’s funny you should mention Cyprus, because if there’s one place to see unsual masonry techniques it would be there 😉

      I wonder if the photographer will come forward at some stage to clear up the mystery.

  4. I imagine myself at the top of the stairs, with the cat coming towards me. It doesn’t work because of the angles of the stairs on either side. The cat is definitely coming down the stairs!

  5. Michael_ It appears that this cat is going down a set of stairs. I base this opinion on the fact that a cat will use their back legs & tail in a different position to help them ascend an object, step, box or a tree. This cat is not showing any of the body motions that they would project for climbing. Just my point of view from here *Eva

    • It makes me feel so much better reading your comment! 😉 . Thanks Ruth and husband. There are polarized views on this but I don’t see an argument here. It seems clear to me.

  6. You are probably correct, Michael. My first impression was that the cat was climbing up the stairs, but then I noticed some of the details you mention and questioned my first guess. However, there is a slight chance the cat is actually climbing up the stairs.

    You mention that if he is going up these stairs are uneven and unsafe. I have encountered many unsafe staircases both indoors and out. Modern building codes require a certain depth to allow room for footfall on each step. But many older homes have very steep, narrow stairs. So it is not impossible that this cat is climbing up an older, unsafe staircase.

    Monty ascends and descends stairs in the same paw over paw fashion with his tail straight up. As much as I have tried to find a clue in the cat’s gait that would really clinch this, I cannot do it.

    It is most likely the cat is going down the stairs, but there is a slight chance that he is actually going up. My brain prefers to interpret the picture as one of a cat ascending the stairs.

    In the US, Michael, it is common practice to simply stand on escalators (moving staircases) and let the escalator completely do the work of moving you, but I heard that in the rest of the world you just keep walking whether the staircase is moving or not.

  7. I see it much more simply. The bright light is coming from the top of the stairs and there are no shadows. It could be a high voltage light at the bottom but more likely sunlight from the top. The cat is going down the stairs! But you are right about the overhang.

  8. The cat appears to have it`s front left paw on one of the steps which would logically be flat. It`s right paw is reaching upward to the next step which is higher than where it`s left paw is resting. The cat seems to be going up. The position of the edging does indicate that the surface pointed out is the vertical part but that may have been added to protect the edges where the feet fall. Dirt has collected at the extreme ends of those strips indicating a flat surface. But there is no sign of wear on that edging caused by people`s feet if it were horizontal, but it may be new, hard metal, or little used. The bright light at the far end looks more like it comes from ground level, because a stairway leading upwards rarely has the top open to the elements. Rain would run down into the building. It`s a really tricky photo with contradictory clues and open to different interpretations. .

    • I think the cat is ascending the stairs. The rear end of their body is much heavier than the front, so they don’t tend to hold their tails upright when descending. It might just be my cats, but they often descend stairs front feet together, in rabbit style hops.

      The staircase looks to be an exterior one. If so, that “overhang” of concrete could be a ridged edge on the steps to prevent them from being slippery in wet weather. The lighter area at the top of the photo looks like pavement to me.

      • 🙂 . Your comment made me smile. The picture continues to provoke different views. This is the one time I have to disagree with you. If you are correct the steps are not deep enough to allow foot falls comfortably (they look approx. 9 inches wide on your proposal) and in addition there is decoration on the walls next to the steps which is more suited (aesthetically) to the cat descending the stairs as I describe.

    • It`s right paw is reaching upward to the next step which is higher than where it`s left paw is resting.

      It could also be lower though couldn’t it? 🙂

      that may have been added to protect the edges where the feet fall.

      I disagree Harvey because the surface is not deep enough for a footfall when the ridge is included.

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