They say that travel exposes you to novel solutions to familiar problems.

However this solution to trapped city cats might be as novel as they come.

In the Swiss capital of Bern, it's not unusual to see tiny scaffolds and ladders snaking out of high rise windows. These are 'cat ladders' or Katzenleitern.

The cat ladder is a lateral solution to the vertical problem of cats being locked in top story apartment blocks.

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Bern's acrobatic cats have a warren of ladders to run. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied
Bern's acrobatic cats have a warren of ladders to run. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied

In cases where a cat flap is not possible and the window ledge is too high above the ground for the moggies to descend safely, cat-loving residents have begun building the structures on the side of buildings.

One photographer found the situation so novel she's written a whole book about them.
The Bern-based author Brigitte Schuster has published a book of her photos explaining the ladders might reveal more about their owners than they do about stuck cats.

"A closer look at the cat ladders reveals sociological, architectural and aesthetic perspectives," she explains.

Next level: This second-floor ladder not for cats with an aversion to heights. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied
Next level: This second-floor ladder not for cats with an aversion to heights. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied

Naturally there is no off-the-shelf solution for a cat ladder. Each has been made specifically for the building and is as unique as the cat-owner who built it.

Some snake down the side of apartment blocks in orderly steps. Others form ornate spiral staircases for pampered pusses to come and go as they please. Meanwhile, another variety look little more than a drainpipe with a few paw-sized footholds.

This cat-owner has painstakingly turned their drains into a cat-access route. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied
This cat-owner has painstakingly turned their drains into a cat-access route. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied

The book titled Swiss Cat Ladders will be published in October in English and German.
Climbing aids for cats are not the first cultural oddity to become the focus for one of her publications.

This house has opted for a full-blown spiral staircase for its pampered cats. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied
This house has opted for a full-blown spiral staircase for its pampered cats. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied

Schuster's previous books from her travels have featured titles dedicated to the Rubbish Bins of Montreal, Fish in Senegal and buildings in Brazil's Ilha de Deus favela.

Even before publication Swiss Cat Ladders has proven to be a success with pet lovers.

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The cat at this house could no longer climb the creeping plants. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied
The cat at this house could no longer climb the creeping plants. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied

Its 268 pages are full of pictures of the custom-built cat ladders that let the viewer in on a bit more of the character of those who built them and the Swiss cats who use them.

Mail box: The logs allow a stepped approach for cats. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied
Mail box: The logs allow a stepped approach for cats. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Supplied

With so many Swiss cat ladders on the side of Swiss buildings, one can't help but wonder: what do the people of Bern do when a cat gets stuck up a tree?

Chicken wing: This ladded juts out form the building in zig-zags. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Getty Images
Chicken wing: This ladded juts out form the building in zig-zags. Photo / Brigitte Schuster, Getty Images
Fold-up cat ladder: The folding ladder is a big draw for cat owners. Photo / Supplied, Brigitte Schuster
Fold-up cat ladder: The folding ladder is a big draw for cat owners. Photo / Supplied, Brigitte Schuster