Switzerland’s Quirky Cat Ladders Help Wandering Felines Ascend New Heights
In Switzerland, devout cat owners are showering love on their feline companions with a charming house modification—the cat ladder.
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Designed to help cats move around more easily without resorting to acrobatic jumps, these strategically placed ramps and ladders have caught on—and residents have developed a wide variety of styles to match the aesthetics of different buildings.
For Bern–based writer and photographer Brigitte Schuster, these architectural oddities also presented an interesting research project. "A closer look at the cat ladders reveals sociological, architectural, and aesthetic perspectives," Schuster says.
The rise of cat ladders in Switzerland is perhaps of little surprise. Cats are the most popular household pets in the nation, and Bern is full of cat lovers, notes Schuster.
While the thought of burglars using the outdoor structures may deter other cities from hopping on the cat ladder bandwagon, the Swiss seem to be less concerned, perhaps because of their country’s relatively low crime rates. (The cat climbing aids would also not likely be strong enough to hold a person's weight.)
Having photographed the many cat ladders throughout Bern, Schuster has compiled her findings and photographs into an upcoming book, Swiss Cat Ladders.
The book, which is bilingual in English and German, showcases the creativity and eccentricity of the climbing structures—ranging from sleek spiral staircases to foldable zigzagging contraptions—and even explores the necessity of the cat ladder as well as the phenomena’s underlying cultural meanings in essays, diagrams, and full-page photographs.
Schuster's book Swiss Cat Ladders will be printed in the fall of 2019, and it's currently available for pre-order on her website.