Home renovations create perfect cat pads

TOKYO — As the number of cat lovers increases in Japan, so too does interest in homes designed specifically for living with felines. Some people have renovated their homes by adding walkways for cats while some have attached guards over windows to prevent their pets from escaping.

Because cats love climbing and jumping onto high places, the Wan-nyan Kenko Jutaku Kenkyujo design office, based in Tokyo, offers housing solutions so people and their pets can live together.

“Owners should understand the nature of cats before creating a living environment (for them),” said Mitsuru Shimizu, who heads the office. He added that clients often ask him to install catwalks in their homes.

Akemi Mizushina lives in Tokyo with eight cats and recently refurbished her condominium's living room. She set up bookshelves around the walls so her cats can walk on them and added a suspension bridge that traverses the room. These catwalks are partially made of glass so she can see the fluffy tummies and plump pads of her pets from underneath.

“Warm air flows upward in winter, and my cats climb to higher places to snuggle,” she said.

According to Shimizu, it costs from 500,000 yen (about $4,567) to install a catwalk. Customers can choose colors that suit their furniture and walls. The sections of the catwalks are made in a factory and are then usually installed in a day.

“Cats throw up, so it's important to install catwalks at a height you can reach by stepping on a chair,” Shimizu said. He added that some cats do not care much for catwalks, so it is important to know your pet's characteristics before renovation.

Shimizu also takes orders to install guards across windows and entrances. Because cats can sneak through narrow gaps, the design office's guards have spaces less than 2 inches wide.

Misawa Homes Co. replaces standard windows with bay windows, which cats are said to love because they can bask in the sun and take a nap. They cost between 200,000 yen and 300,000 yen ($1,869 to $2,803) each. Misawa Homes also builds wicket gates for doors that cost about 100,000 yen ($934).

Because many people have a hard time finding rental homes that allow tenants to keep cats, Tokyo-based real estate firm Rix Japan set up the website to cater to such people.

The website, which has been operating for about 1½ years, features about 200 rental homes in Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture and other areas. Some of the featured homes are equipped with catwalks or furnished with special wallpaper that is more scratch-resistant.

“Year after year, we've found growing demand from people wishing to enjoyably live with cats,” Rix spokesman Akira Date said. “We receive inquiries mainly from women aged between their 20s and 40s.”

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