8 Palaces for Small Pets
No matter how small the animal, some people think very big when creating a home for their pets
Birds and cats usually do not make the best of friends (Audubon estimates domestic felines kill millions of wild birds each year in North America alone), but when both have their own homes, they can learn to live harmoniously. Most people opt for a simple cage for their birds, and the average cat gets a cozy nook. But these animal lovers have gone all out, from a whole house designed around cats to birdhouses that are miniature works of art.
Sometimes when felines and humans live together things can get, well, catty. Japanese home builders Asahi Kasei designed and built the Plus-Nyan House with special features that cater to the needs of cats and their owners, including cat walks and tunnels, climbing steps, and sleeping nooks. All materials in the home resist scratching and are easy to clean, and the house encourages cat/human interactions throughout, even in the bathroom, which has a special alcove for a kitty litter box next to the toilet. When tired of the amenities inside, kitties can explore a fenced-in outdoor area on the roof.
Even a birdbrain can appreciate this wonder. With 103 compartments, 13 roofs, and 32 dormers, it is more like a bird hotel than a birdhouse. Built by former Canadian homebuilder John Looser, the enormous 8-foot-tall, 9-foot-wide Roxbury Inn is made of reclaimed barn wood, with a steel roof constructed of almost 100 hand-painted pieces. Compartments face in all directions, making checking in and out a breeze (the kitty doorman notwithstanding). This house was built as a DIY project, but other woodworking plans and birdhouses built by Looser can be purchased on Extremebirdhouse.com.
Some people would do anything for their cats. DIYer Brad Stone of Dallas, Texas, wanted to give his two felines a fenced-in place to play in the yard, so he built a 17-foot-long run on the side of his house. The cat run was nice, but a few years later Stone decided his kitties needed more space. So he built a larger cat enclosure (shown) in his backyard, which is 15 feet wide, 24 feet long, and a little over 6 feet tall, and connected it to the original structure. The enclosure features shelves, posts, and stairs for the cats to scratch and climb on, as well as hooks for Stone to hang a hammock from and chill with his pampered felines.
This house was originally designed as a dwelling for humans only, but with a little ingenuity and a deep love for their kitties, Bob Walker and Frances Mooney turned their home into a colorful cat sanctuary. The husband and wife have spent much of their time over the past twenty years making cat-friendly changes to their San Diego, California, house, including a floor-to-ceiling scratching post (covered in 395 feet of pink sisal rope) and 140 feet of cat pathways located on beams just below the ceiling. There are also holes for the cats to hide in. Walker and Mooney had such a good time redesigning their house, they eventually decided to write several books, including The Cats House and Cats Into Everything.
Watching the new episode of Lost is wild with this DIY project. Lizard lovers Genevieve Morwen and Laura Mansfield of Springfield, Massachusetts, built this 6-foot-square vivarium made of wood and plexiglass to house six to 15 reptiles from the Rhacodactylus family (mostly crested geckos and chahouas). They placed a fan behind the television so it doesn't overheat and positioned the speakers away from the vivarium so the noise wouldn't hurt their pets. It is currently being refurbished because the dedicated pet-centric DIYers wanted to add new elements to the structure.
No matter what you may believe, your cat really runs the show at your house, so why not give your feline the top spot? Made of "TerrierRock," a reinforced papier-mache faux stone, The Feline Mountain is custom built to the needs of your cat with a perch to watch over the house, a scratching post/gangway wrapped with manila rope to climb, and a hiding place. You can get it starting at about $5,000 from Scottie's Fine Art Caves
After tearing down a humble pigeon shed, Terry Sandham decided to go all out. His new 18-by-5-foot pigeon loft has sliding doors, roof tiles, and skylights to bring in natural light. After he completed the structure, his local city planners ordered him to knock it down, but he has since won the right to keep it. This loft is definitely something to 'coo' about!
Most bird lovers are content buying their feathered friends a top-of-the-line cage, but Hangzhou, China resident Zhu Hu wanted a bird's-eye view. He built this 16-foot-tall cage in his backyard with a table and four chairs inside. Zhu, who is also a bird keeper, was inspired to build the structure after watching his pets. He enjoys relaxing inside.