My Swiss Story is a series that looks at life in Switzerland.
This week, we spoke to Loki le Magnifique, a cat, originally from Honolulu, Hawai‘i, who moved to Switzerland in 2010. Settling first in Neuchâtel, with his humans, he now lives mostly in Geneva, with regular sojourns back to a cottage in forested farmland above Neuchâtel. Loki, a natural-born American, is an internationally certified love magnet, but refuses to charge for his services because he always reserves the right to be aloof. “It’s who I am, wherever I am”, he says.
What brought you to Switzerland?
If I’d had a vote for or against us leaving our Hawaiian rainforest in Volcano village for freezing Switzerland, I would have voted no. But Swiss direct democracy hadn’t yet arrived in our household.
What do you love most about your life here?
I’m not normally a political animal, but I must say I was happy to learn that Switzerland has highly detailed regulations concerning the humane treatment of animals.
And animals are mentioned in the Swiss constitution. We have high status here!
What was your biggest challenge after arriving here?
Learning to love the train. Who in Switzerland doesn’t love the compulsively on-time Swiss train system? Me, at first. Quite noisy on the platform, for one thing. Plus: dogs. But after several trips back and forth between Geneva and Neuchâtel, I came to feel at home in my comfy, stylish travelling apartment with its fold-down, screened terrace.
And I get to travel for free as long as I bring my human. The other passengers often smile or even say a few words when they see me, disproving the cliché that the Swiss are stand-offish.
What personal experiences have shaped your view of Switzerland?
We have two homes, one in bustling international Geneva, one in bucolic farmland above Neuchâtel. Cats have the freedom to roam freely (at their own risk) in both places. This has given me insight into the texture of Swiss culture. If you analyze Swiss voting trends, as I have, you’ll see that the real divisions between political opinions are not so much the supposed traditional “Röstigraben” between German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland, but between urban and rural populations.
What do you miss from your life before?
Though, technically speaking, I don’t speak English, or any other human language, I do understand English, so it was easier in the U.S. where everyone spoke English to me. In Switzerland I have to rely on body language, which works surprisingly well. I recommend it to humans.
What would you miss most if you left Switzerland?
That’s easy. I’d miss the Swiss penchant for understatement, and my regular train trips.
Interview edited by Bill Harby