US 'Cats' House' closes

2013-07-17 14:39
Cat. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Cat. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Los Angeles - They enjoyed the high life for years. Now eight cats accustomed to the creature comforts of a house that features an elevated feline freeway have not only been brought down to Earth, but squeezed into a 9m motor home with the family Chihuahua.

Gus, Sam, Dave, Stella, Lili, Eddie, Zander, Willow and Sadie the Chihuahua are biding their time in the motor home, which is parked in the driveway of the San Diego home known for a quarter-century as "The Cats' House".

Bob Walker and Frances Mooney have sold the house and before the month is over, they, the cats and the dog are moving to Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Walker and Mooney moved into the house in 1986 and turned it into a human-sized cat condo with 42m of elevated highway, tunnels, ramps, a spiral staircase, rest areas and scenic vistas. It even had a floor-to-ceiling scratching post.

The kitty thoroughfare remains but has been painted white like the rest of the house. The new owners don't have a cat.


It used to be a kaleidoscope of colours. Even the outside was purple.

Walker, 63, a photographer and builder, and Mooney, 61, an artist, shared the house.

Walker published eight photo books, including The Cats' House. Over the years, the unusual home attracted some 50 film crews from around the world. At a book signing in 1996, more than 900 people showed up.

The couple was featured in a Chris Smith documentary, Home Movie shown at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and later released on DVD.

Walker, Mooney and the cats even had a line of postcards.

Until five months ago, Walker said they thought they'd spend the rest of their lives in the four-bedroom, 139m² home overlooking Mission Bay. Built in the 1950s, it was also Mooney's childhood home.

"Then we decided to go on a new adventure and move to the East Coast," Walker said.

New home

Sadie, Zander and Willow are 3, so this will probably be the couple's last batch of cats, he said. Cats are 15- or 20-year commitments and they don't want to leave any behind.

Mooney "was always bonkers for cats", Walker said. On their wedding day in 1973, they adopted Beauregard, their first cat as a couple.

The ceiling superhighway started when they decided to divide the living room and dining room with a stained glass window. To keep cats from damaging the furniture, they added the floor-to-ceiling scratching post, wrapped with 120m of dyed pink sisal rope.

The cats loved it, Walker said, but after chasing each other up the scratching post and across a suspended beam, they had to stop abruptly.

The answer was tunnels and freeway extensions. Walker used planks of Douglas fir. To accommodate the oldest members of the troupe, he added the 23-step spiral staircase into the TV room and a carpet-covered ramp into the bedroom.

Over the years, they've had 35 cats, though never more than a dozen at once.

They had eight litter boxes around the house and cleaned a lot, Walker said. In the motor home, they don't have as much to clean, but there is only room for one litter box - on the shower floor - and they have to change it at least twice a day.

In Fredericksburg, they plan to buy a home and build a bigger, better, longer, stronger and more artistic catwalk.

Walker said he's anxious to start on a two-story cat house, but he's a little worried about the slope challenge.
Read more on:    animals

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Sniffing out No 2

9 minutes ago publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.