“The Cats’ House” [Dominic Young] 1/2
Despite the size of the animal-loving population out there, it’s odd that you seldom hear of houses being built expressly with the creature comforts of pets in mind. “The Cats’ House,” designed by Keiji Hirose of the Japanese architecture firm Fauna+DeSIGN, is one such a property. Mr Hirose has employed his skills both as an architect and a qualified animal handler to the full to create a dream home for people and their better (animal) halves.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit “the Cats’ House” in the autumn of 2009. The feature that I found most striking was the myriad cat steps, pathways and tunnels, both high and low, that run throughout the entire two storeys. This network of cat passages represents the pinnacle of good design, combining utility, style and a generous sprinkling of fun.
The centrepiece is a zigzagging “cat walk” that soars over the central landing at ceiling height—a wonderful way to show off the house’s cat inhabitants, who come in all coats and colours and love to laze around on high. In animal terms, Mr Hirose says that these passages give the cats “vertical” exercise, as well as roaming space. The latter is important in a property with so many animals living in close proximity. After all, cats do have their hierarchies, and having enough space to disperse allows weaker members to keep out of the way of more dominant members, or even to hide from them. The theory is that this results in fewer fights, and a chat with the gloating owners of the house confirms that this is indeed the case, making for much less stress all around.