This is a visual puzzle from what I consider to be the image section of the Reddit website (imgur). This photo of a cat going up or down stairs seems to have baffled many people which is why the title asks the question: “Is this cat moving up or down the stairs?”. I set out my argument below. An interesting side issue is whether a person’s mentality helps to persuade the person to chose going up or down the stairs.
Without wishing to be boastful, I am convinced that I have a rock solid answer.
The cat (a tabby-and-white) is moving down the stairs.
The reason for my confident assessment is this. On all stairs where a person’s foot is to be placed are flat. They have to be for safety. That is the first reason. If you look at the picture, if the cat was coming up the stairs he’d be treading on surfaces that are not flat because there is a ridge on the outside surface of each stair, which I have pointed out in the picture. Also, the footfall area is not deep enough to be safe if you say the cat is going up the stairs because the ridge occupies a part of the surface. It would be dangerous.
Also, if is very common for staircases to have the flat surface where the foot is placed to overhang slightly at the leading edge. This is the second reason why we are looking at a cat going down stairs. You can see the slight overhang of the slab (perhaps of concrete) which forms the landing area for each foot fall. The slight overhang allows the footfall area to be slightly larger thereby making it safer and easier to use.
Here is an example of another set of masonry built stairs showing the ridge I refer to:
Here is a mock up of the same cat going down stairs with the same sort of ridge visible:
I don’t think the gait of the cat has any influences of decision making. I hope you found this interesting.