4 April 2021

The Cat House of Riga - A Feline Feud

If you have ever felt slighted by an individual or group then this is a lesson in revenge for you! Riga, the capital of Latvia is home to the Cat House, known as such because of the two sculptures of cats high on its roof. 

It is one of the city’s landmarks and is a testament to the desire of one man to have vengeance (if only metaphorically) on his enemies.

Many, many years ago if you lived in Riga and were in business then you just had to be a member of the Great Guild. Until you were invited in to its hallowed halls you simply had not made it. One Latvian businessman was incensed when he was not admitted to the Guild and hatched a peculiar, personal and unique form of revenge.
He happened to own the building across the way from the Guild. So, he ordered two sculptures of black cats made and placed on the roof of his building (Kaķu nams in Latvian). Not only that but he ordered that they should be turned away from the Guild, backside up.

Today it may not seem much of a retort, visual or otherwise. Back then, a pair of black cats showing their posteriors to the parish principals was a public gesture of defiance, distaste and damnification. This feline feud was serious. Put the message in to your own contemporary words.  You got it.

You can only imagine the reaction of the members of the Guild. A lengthy legal battle ensued with the Guild’s affronted and choleric committee fighting a losing battle with the owner of the f-you felines. It was only when they agreed that he could become a member of the Guild that he relented and had the cats turned face on towards it.

Whether he accepted and became a member is lost to history as is his name. If he ventured within, one can only guess at how his first day went. Yet the cats quickly became legend and a landmark of the city. No trip to the city is complete without a visit to the Cat House and a gawp at the bronze cats which stare cheekily back down at you.

Yet whether they set a good example of feline grace and poise to those among the city’s contemporary cats that catch sight of them from Riga’s cobbled streets - is left to you to decide.