When Peter Cohen bought his California house in 1988, he couldn't have imagined the transformation that 22 cats would have on inside almost 30 years later. At the time, he cared for two feral cats who seemed to come with the property. But when both cats were hit by cars in separate incidents, Cohen feared for their lives and decided to renovate the indoors of his home to mimic the type of home cats could only dream about.
Cohen did some research about what structures were best to keep cats happy and entertained, and that's when he discovered catwalks. He decided to build some within his house. Those catwalks were soon followed by ramps, portholes, perches, platforms, and tunnels.
So what about all those litter boxes? Cohen found the solution for that, too. He constructed specially-designed litter box closets around the house that have exhaust fans to keep odors away. To handle all that cat hair, Cohen has five Roomba robot vacuum cleaners regularly prowling around the house.
In total, Cohen has spent over $50,000 to make his home cat-compatible. That total includes rope-wrapped poles in the home office, floating shelves and lofts in the master bedroom, and even a koi pond to capture their attention.
“I thought maybe the cats would just look at it, but they use it all,” Cohen says. “It’s like a freeway sometimes with them all over the place.”
And with the indoor additions came more feline additions, too! Cohen, his partner, and his roommate have all worked together to adopt 22 cats from shelters. They aren't just any cats: they are ones who, for various reasons, have the hardest time finding forever homes.
Cohen's cats are a constant inspiration for improvements and updates in his home. "We have been building catwalks for 20 years and have learned a great deal from our cats what they like and do not like," Cohen told Love Meow.
One rescue cat, in particular, named Peanut, gave Cohen a new direction for his cat building aspirations. Peanut was diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), an incurable, fatal viral disease. Peanut's valiant struggle and passing inspired Cohen to fundraise to find a cure for this feline illness.
"We humans cannot solve so many big problems," Cohen said, "but we can solve little ones. Each cat we adopt from a shelter is one more sentient being that now has a home and love and care. It is that simple."
One of the cats, Smokey, was found as a kitten. Unfortunately, Smokey has FIP, but Cohen adopted him anyway and now has the cat on medical treatments that so far have made Smokey feel much better.
What started out at a way to make a home better for two cats has morphed into a sanctuary for cats in need of love and affection. Cohen and company provide more than enough for all of their cats!
We thank Cohen for all of his work to give abandoned cats a forever home, and we hope Smokey continues to respond well to his treatment. You can learn more about Cohen, Smokey, and their fundraising efforts for an FIP cure at their Facebook page.
Watch the video below of Cohen's fantastic home --- and the cats who love living in it --- and share it with your friends and family on Facebook.