Interior design is as much about style as functionality. There are those of us who want sleek elegance and those who prefer rustic. A home’s decor, after all, is an extension of yourself; it tells others about your personality..
Now throw out everything you’ve just imagined and replace the brandished stainless steel with brightly colored walkways of pink that track the interior of your house. For a moment, imagine your house is a cat’s playground.
What you’re seeing is Bob Walker and Frances Mooney’s reality. For almost 25 years, the couple has been known for their unique interior design. Their home in San Diego bustles with catwalks and nooks for their eight cats. It is, quite literally, the cats’ house (which happens to be the name of one of Walker’s books).
Not everyone is gaga over cats, much less turning the inside of their home into a cat jungle gym, but enough feline-friendly followers exist that Walker has begun designing catwalks for other homeowners.
Recently, Movoto Real Estate spoke with Walker about what makes a cat-friendly home and his take on living with animals.
The Cat’s Meow
Walker’s first foray into building a large feature for his cats came soon after he and his wife moved into their house in the mid ‘80s. Walker built a floor-to-ceiling cat post. More than two decades later, that post has turned into 140 square feet of catwalks, a spiral staircase, and an inclined ramp.
There are those who think Walker has gone over the top, but that depends on your perspective. When people ask why Walker changed his interior design he responds that his pets are his “kids.” It just so happens that his children like high places and Meow Mix.
“It’s just something simple you can do for your family,” Walker said.
Similarly, he said when he started to create cat-centric designs it was to give to his cats something to do while he and his wife were away. It’s one of the linchpins of his feline philosophy.
“The animals usually spend more time in the house than the people do,” Walker said. He added that if possession is 9/10ths of the law, his cats own his house.
Art of the Catwalk
Designing for your cat isn’t something to take lightly, Walker said. The first time he took a hammer to one of his walls, he wondered if he was doing the right thing. It didn’t stop him, but he did consider.
One of his concerns was whether he and his wife were going to stay in their house. While some might consider a cat bonanza a must-have in a new home, there are just as many who might turn up their nose (not unlike some cats we know) at resplendent walls and overhead cat paths.
“One of the special privileges of being a homeowner is that you can do whatever you want with your home,” Walker said. “For us, we decided we were happy here and this was where we wanted to live.”
This doesn’t mean that everything Walker tried was a success. He once built a cat post lined with small cat stuffed animals. The joke was that his cats would be climbing a “cat post.”
“The cats hated it,” he said with a laugh.
Gleaned through trial and error, Walker said he builds what he thinks his cats would enjoy. Outside of this he offered the following advice for those interested in catwalks:
- Don’t hug walls. Otherwise, the catwalks turn into one-way paths ripe for “cathogs.”
- Place catwalks in prominent rooms. “They’ll want to be where you are,” Walker said. “Don’t (build them) in some back room that no one goes to.”
- Create multiple ways for the animals to reach the catwalk, such as ramps or stairs. As a cat ages, this makes it easier for the animal.
If you’re worried about knocking down walls and building cat highways, Walker offered one piece of advice: make it more convenient for your cat to reach high places. This could be as simple as making sure a cat can reach a bookshelf or window ledge.
“This is where they go to get away and be safe and secure,” he said.