These photographs of Swiss cat ladders were taken by Brigitte Schuster (bar one which was taken by Mauro Piccardi/Alamy). I think they were taken in Bern and they are a delight. They are architectural in design and in some instances they add to the architecture of the building. They are ingenious.
Knowing a bit as I do about leasehold and land law, my first question was how they got permission to add these constructions to the outside of the building. In England you would not obtain permission from the landlord or the freeholder of the apartment block to do this.
I would suspect that the lease would not allow it. I’m not saying that that would be the case universally but typically the exterior of apartment buildings are quite carefully regulated under the lease in the UK.
Therefore, in Switzerland they appear to have more flexible rules, which I think is a good thing. The next issue that comes to mind is that these are of course indoor/outdoor cats. The owner happens to live on the first, second or third and above floors and these wonderful cat ladders allow their cat to explore the outside relying as they do on the cat’s superb athleticism.
These images are links to larger versions. If you won’t to see large format versions please click on the photos.
This of course brings up another major issue and discussion point whether cats should be allowed to roam outside. Clearly the Swiss have a point of view on this topic which is similar to that of the British. It is dissimilar, however, to the views of many Americans which is intriguing I think because in America there’s a lot more space. Usually there are less vehicles per square mile than there are in the UK for instance. Therefore the life of an outdoor cat is safer than it is for cats living in Switzerland or the UK in in respect of road accidents. However, in America there are far more predators which together with cat haters is why cats are often kept permanently inside.
It’s about a mentality and I think we have to leave it at that. The photographer, Brigitte Schuster, says:
“Cat ladders are planned, designed and constructed structures. They are always integrated into the building’s architecture….In Istanbul there are thousands of stray cat climbing and descending without the help of ladders. They climb daringly on canopies, balconies, windowsills, walls, beams or trees close to buildings reaching almost every destination.”
Schuster also says that:
“Cat ladders are part of this process of humanisation. They help cats to ascend and descend, just as we humans use staircases or ladders.”
She adds that:
“Cat owners in Bern are particularly concerned about the well-being of their cat, a phenomenon called humanisation”.
It’s interesting that she refers to the well-being of cats. A lot of people in America would disagree that allowing a cat to wander freely outside is a way of being concerned for the welfare of domestic cats. It’s all about culture and the approach to cat guardianship/caretaking.
Whatever your point of view about letting domestic cats wander outside, I think you would agree that these are wonderfully ingenious and even beautiful cat ladders.
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