Upper floor flat dwellers can have outside cats too

You may have seen these extraordinary cat ladders before. I have and I’d like to revisit the topic. The photo on this page by Brigitte Schuster is perhaps a classic of the cat apartment block cat ladder. It was taken in Bern, Switzerland.

Cat ladders in Berne, Switzerland
Cat ladders in Berne, Switzerland. Photo: Brigitte Schuster.
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Schuster is a German photographer and an architecture aficionado. But I am more interested in the domestic cat, their human guardians and how they use these ladders.

The cats’ owners live on the second floor and clearly the way in and out of these apartments is via the window and a narrow cat ladder. For me the cat owners demonstrate a commitment to giving their cats an outdoor life while living in a flat 2 stories up. These cat owners see nothing abnormal in building the ladders. To many they look interesting and very unusual. They are certainly very rare in the cat world although you will see them in various countries.

However, I am not sure that you’d see these architectural gems in America. I have never seen it. In developed countries, it is a European attitude to let a domestic cat roam freely and not to let the obstacle of living in an apartment get in the way of that goal, hence these interesting ladders.

The ladders are fully functional only because the domestic cat is amazingly athletic. The ladders are narrow and steep. You need the sureness of foot and an excellent head for heights to navigate them. I’d doubt if a cat has ever fallen off one. The cats add only what cats can add to a building; a soul.

The last point to make is that they are interesting architecturally which is why Schuster photographed them. They add to the design and aesthetic of the building. They are photographically photogenic.


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