Designing Homes for Feline Enrichment

By Julia Williams

I have been told that my cats are spoiled. I suppose they are, but I don’t really consider that to be a bad thing. Spoiled human children often grow up to become snooty adults that no one wants to be around. Spoiled cats just live their cushy life and enjoy every minute of it. If a cat is able to convince a human that her purpose in life is to satisfy their every desire (no, of course I’m not talking about me), then rah rah for them! However, recently I’ve discovered that in regards to living that aforementioned cushy life, there are other cats who have it far, far better than mine.

Take, for example, the cats of Bob Walker and Frances Mooney. These nine felines definitely hit the cat lottery when they adopted this couple. The lucky kitties have the purrfect home (more on that in a minute). In fact, Bob and Frances call their home “The Cats’ House” because that’s exactly what they believe it to be.

Bob said “One day it finally came to us that we go off to work every day leaving the house to the animals. We realized that possession was nine-tenths of the law, that it was really their house so the least we could do was cater to their whims and desires and make it their house.”

They started with a simple catwalk and “one thing led to the next.” Ha ha! Before they knew it, they had 140 feet of elevated cat paths (the “Cat Highway”) throughout their home, with three different ways for the kitties to get up to the catwalk. One of their early inspirations for the catwalk came from a relative, who had a train track that went around the top of the room. Only instead of a train, Bob and Frances have cats zooming around overhead and through the walls to the next room.

In addition to the brightly colored aerial walkway, the catified house also has a floor-to-ceiling scratching post, “mouse holes” (peepholes for the cats to play in), spiral staircases and numerous cat shelves on the walls. “The best part of the Cat House, for me, is seeing your family enjoying their overhead lifestyle,” said Bob. Spoken like a true Cat Guy.

Cat lovers consider Bob and Frances as two of the founders of the “feline enrichment movement.” In Cats USA magazine, Sandy Robbins said “Cat behaviorists have endorsed many of their ideas as essential to keep indoor cats mentally and physically fulfilled.” Bob Walker’s book, The Cats’ House, is available online. It doesn’t offer much in way of directions for recreating the many feline enrichment structures in his house, but there is plenty of inspiration. For even more great ideas on how to catify your home, watch the YouTube video.

Lest you think Bob and Frances are the only ones who would go to such lengths for their feline friends, there is a Japanese architecture firm, Fauna+Design, who built The Cats’ House for the owners 16 kitties. This home is the stuff of feline dreams, featuring all kinds of climbing and perching structures, catwalks, cat flaps in every interior door, cat shelves and secret tunnels, all beautifully integrated with modern design features.

All of the materials used throughout the home are scratch resistant. The cats even have their own partitioned space for their litter box in the home’s bathroom. Yes, they’ve thought of everything! You can get all sorts of ideas for designing a home for feline occupants on the Fauna+Design YouTube channel.

Building a catwalk in your home might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a great way to provide indoor kitties with much needed exercise and fun. One day, when I win the lottery, I am definitely going to build my own Cat House!

If you could, would you build an entire home around your cat? Would you design your home more for feline enrichment than your own?

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4 thoughts on “Designing Homes for Feline Enrichment

  1. Yes, I often fantasize about what I would do to build things for my cat, if I were building or remodeling the house. For me there is the fine line between the cat being able to traverse all over and cat hair falling from above into my meal. With animals you get fur in your food no matter what, but I assume if the are able to walk above my dining area it would be worse. So in our present home there is no up-on-the-walls-around-the-room-space . . . but I can dream!

  2. We firmly believe that our house should cater to the needs and desires of both the human and feline inhabitants. We incorporate cat trees and cat furniture into every room and I am certain that is why our gang of 7 gets along so well – we provide them with an environment that makes them feel safe, loved, and allows them to be 100% feline!

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