|Bob Walker and Frances Mooney|
Cats have been integral to our relationship from the beginning. In 1970, we became a couple, and married three years later. No big wedding or romantic honeymoon for us. Instead, we visited a friend after our reception and adopted Beauregard, a long-haired tabby—a purr-fect start, our first cat for our new life together.
Rather auspiciously, in 1986, the Chinese Year of the Tiger, we moved to our present location. Bay Park is a quiet, friendly neighborhood, a nice kind of place to bring up a family of felines. Three generations of Frances's family have lived in this mid-1950s house, a 1,500-square-foot tract home built on a hill overlooking San Diego's sparkling Mission Bay. On a typical clear day, you can see the ocean—if standing on the roof.
Previously, we had changed residences so regularly that every two years we would automatically pick up cats and relocate again. But this move was different, because it was finally realized that, with each passing day, we had fewer opportunities to do and say what was important to us. So, we decided to settle down and admit that our family would always be felines.
With a home of our own, we were now able to consider how to best fulfill our family's needs. After years of experience as cat watchers, there was one thing both of us knew for certain: felines possess a natural inclination for pleasure and deserve a stimulating environment. We hoped that, with a little remodeling, our almost-bay-view home would also become our cats' lofty playhouse.
Almost one year after the move, we constructed a floor-to-ceiling scratching post that also provided support for a suspended leaded glass window. Almost immediately, we noticed a change in our cats' attitudes. Ground-level travel was now considered beneath them. It was only for those who had to walk on the floor. The new structure became their complete activity center—the preferred area for catnapping, attention-seeking, hiding from scary sounds, and game-playing. The full-speed chases would lead straight to the scratching post. In rapid order, they would leap onto the column, dash upward to the supporting beam, race across it, and then come to a screeching stop. Dead end. There was nowhere else to go.
Literally, one thing led to the next. Adding a second entry/exit was necessary to complete the loop so that our cats could avoid being cornered. The new section initiated a series of expansions that allows our feline family to travel on one hundred and forty feet of elevated home highway. Now they are everywhere: under-foot, over-foot; on counters, shelves, laps, and furnishings; even in the air above.
Our fortunate felines think all cats live this way. We think all should. By making public our private space, we hope others will be encouraged to create a better life for their companions—animal and human.