Swiss Cat Ladders for Apartment Cats

1 in 4 households in Switzerland have cats which make them the nation’s favorite pet.

The Swiss culture firmly believes that cats should have access to the outdoors. The following statement was taken from a Swiss cat welfare website:

Cats are adaptable and can live in the most different of circumstances. Nevertheless, their ability to adapt should not be overtaxed in order to ensure their well being. The following radical but earnest statement of a veterinary is food for thought: It’s preferable to have a cat that will only survive for one year, if allowed to roam outdoors than to have a cat vegetating behind lock and bar for fifteen years.”

Swiss cat welfare website

I know that’s a tough statement to swallow for most of us who treasure our cats dearly and worry about their safety. They go on to say cats may be kept indoors if the following  considerations are respected:

Often, special breeds are not allowed outdoors out of fear of theft or accidents. The cat, however, could not care about its family tree but is curious by nature and does not want to spend the whole day dozing out of boredom. Not only special breeds are permanently held indoors, in houses or apartments. Many cats live along streets with heavy traffic and would thus be endangered if let outside. Such cats, however, are also entitled to change in life. If a cat cannot make experiences because it is not allowed outdoors, its owner must ensure compensation. But how?

An interesting life indoors: There are three main possibilities to keep cats occupied and entertained: 1) every form of social contact (people, cats or dogs); 2) occupational activities derived from a cat’s natural hunting instinct; 3) observing the activities in its surroundings (windows, balconies, catios, catrees).

Needless to say you will see a lot of cat ladders all over Switzerland for cats to have access to the outdoors. Here is a small collection:

cat ladder

apartment building cat ramp

Cat ladder for apartment cats

Photo credit: Dimitri Burkhard/Newly Swissed

Cat Ladder for apartment cats

Swiss Cat ladder

Photo credit:

Cat ladder for apartment cats

cat ladder Switzerland

Photo by Ruth

You can see my the cat ramp my husband built for a neighbor here.




  1. Ivy Erlinger
    October 30, 2016 / 9:45 am

    You wouldn’t happen to know if people make their own structures, or if there is somewhere to buy them? I’m from Australia and would love to give my once outdoor cat a chance to roam again (I live in a 2nd floor apartment)

    • October 30, 2016 / 10:14 am

      Most people make their own. I would look at different systems as inspiration and then try to make your own that best fits your style of building. Good luck and I’d love to see the results!

  2. January 16, 2016 / 3:13 am

    Interesting post, and thanks for presenting the other side of the indoor

    • January 16, 2016 / 1:12 pm

      Thanks for stopping by! It is an interesting discussion and the answers are not black nor white.

  3. Marci Koski
    October 28, 2015 / 4:52 am

    Wow those are crazy! But really interesting…I wouldn’t worry about cats falling off necessarily, but I’d be more worried about the dangers to them once they are on the ground. Especially in urban areas where there are cars and such. But I understand the point about allowing cats to have natural enrichment opportunities…and being outside is probably among the best opportunities available! For me, I couldn’t let my kitties outside unless they were confined by a catio, unfortunately :(

  4. September 2, 2015 / 12:12 am

    I wanna move to Switzerland! ~Wally

  5. September 1, 2015 / 10:44 pm

    OMC This is da cwaziest fing weez ever heard!!! Weez fink dat’s just Nuts. No way wuld mommy let us go outside and be stolen or killed or lost or sick or so many udder fings. Cwazy we say, just cwazy.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi

  6. September 1, 2015 / 9:55 pm

    This is very interesting. Mom Paula won’t let us go outside!

  7. The Swiss Cats
    September 1, 2015 / 9:07 pm

    It’s interesting to see how exotic our cat ladders look for our US furriends. Purrs

    • September 1, 2015 / 9:11 pm

      Exactly! I’ve never seen anything like this in the US. But in many cities it is not permitted or not generally accepted to let your cat outside. Sure in the countryside or suburbs, but not in cities or apartments.

    • September 1, 2015 / 6:15 pm

      Yes, but the vast majority of cats will keep coming home to eat, sleep and for attention. Cats that are let to go outside typically explore but stay very close to home.

  8. September 1, 2015 / 1:00 pm

    That is sooo cool!

    Rose ~ the almost grown Kitten

  9. September 1, 2015 / 9:55 am

    Those ways in and out look rather dangerous to us but there again we live in a bungalow!!
    Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx

  10. September 1, 2015 / 9:46 am

    Wow, that looks pawsome! But Mummy would be worried that we might fall off some of those ladder. Personally, I would love to climb that high! Daeda xxx