Chris Burton was fast asleep when a strange noise made him jump out of bed.
Burton’s cat, Reggie, has a habit of jumping from the second story bedroom window to a detached garage 3 feet away from their house in Surrey, England. The daring cat usually makes the leap effortlessly, but that night, the sound of scrabbling claws suggested otherwise.
“It was about 6 a.m. and I was in bed with my window open when I hear him slipping on the windowsill, followed by a very cartoon Road Runner-esque fading meow,” Burton told The Dodo.
Burton and his girlfriend, Danielle, rushed Reggie to the vet, where an examination revealed that Reggie was unharmed by the fall.
Though the cat was lucky to walk away without a scratch, after years of taking the shortcut from garage to bedroom, Reggie was not going to stop making that leap.
“He’s found it an easier way to get in my room than through the house,” Burton said. “I think he likes being up high, where he can get a good view over everywhere.”
At 9 years old, Reggie might not be as spry as he once was, so Burton decided to act fast before his cat got the taste for adventure again.
“I realized if he fell again he might not be so lucky,” Burton said, “so a bridge was the only option!”
Burton set about designing a comfortably cat-sized bridge that could span from the windowsill to the garage roof. But he didn’t want to create just any bridge — he wanted to give his feline friend a more stylish and iconic way of crossing.
“I’ve never visited the Golden Gate Bridge in person, but watched one of those British Pathé early 1900s documentaries about its construction and became instantly fascinated,” Burton said. “It’s such a cool structure!”
At the time of its opening, the real Golden Gate Bridge was both the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world. Making a cat version of this marvel of engineering would be no easy feat, but Burton was undaunted by the task.
To construct the platform, Burton started with a few raw planks of wood, which he sanded down and cut to size. Footholds were glued in place, and a drawbridge attachment mechanism was tested.
Once the bridge was stable, the beams were screwed onto either side of the plank, and string was laced through to mimic cables. Danielle filmed the entire process, which took just under a week, and they cut the footage into a video, which they posted to YouTube.
Throughout the process, it was as if Reggie knew the bridge was meant for him, and wanted to be involved. “When I was building it, Reg was all over it,” Burton explained, “constantly sitting on loose bits of wood and generally trying to help [or] get in the way.”
After many generous coats of paint, the bridge was fastened in place and it was finally time for the big reveal.
Only — Reggie continued to hop from roof to window.
“I think he knew that I wanted him to use it, and so like all cats, he did exactly the opposite and ignored it completely for a couple of days,” Burton said. “Maybe it was the smell of the fresh paint?”
After days of frustration, Burton got a brilliant idea for how to change Reggie’s attitude: a tasty incentive.
“We bribed him on with some treats, and he soon warmed to it!” Burton said. “He now even sits on it and watches the world go by.”
Now, when Reggie isn’t sleeping, sitting in a box or following Burton and Danielle around the house, he can safely access his favorite place via a sturdy little bridge all his own. And it’s not bad to look at, either.
Though Burton is taking a break from cat projects for the time being, he still has a few crafts on the horizon that may improve his pets’ lives.
“I’m planning on building a mansion for my guinea pigs,” Burton added, “which should be a lot of fun.”