A Feline’s Paradise: Cat House

A propósito del Día Internacional del Gato, recorremos la casa para gatos más grande y mejor acondicionada que existe: el hogar de Peter Cohen, fundador de Zen By Cat.

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Para quienes adoran a los gatos, cada día está dedicado a estos felinos -semi- domesticados. Para el resto del mundo, el Día Internacional del Gato se celebra el 20 de febrero. A propósito de esta efeméride, recorremos la que, probablemente, sea la casa para gatos más cool del mundo: el hogar californiano que Peter Cohen ha acondicionado para sus más de veinte mousersPractica tu inglés y aprende nuevo vocabulario mientras lees esta interesante entrevista con Cohen, fundador de la NPO Zen by Cat y artífice de un auténtico feline's paradise.

A Feline’s Paradise: Cat House

Cookie wakes up in her home in Goleta, California. She stretches her legs and wanders through her four-bedroom home. When she feels like doing some exercise, she runs through a tunnel, climbs up a pole and walks along a wall. Cookie might sound like a fitness fanatic or adrenalin junkie. In fact, she’s not even human. She’s one of twenty-four cats who live in the cat-friendly home of Peter Cohen.

A PLAYGROUND

Cat House Peter Cohen

When Peter first moved into his house, in 1988, there were two stray cats living on the grounds. Sadly, they both got hit by cars, and one of them died as a result. So Peter decided to keep the surviving cat indoors and soon started adopting other unwanted cats. Then, in 1995, he started converting his home into a playground for cats, with tunnels, walkways, ramps and climbing poles. Peter has spent over $35,000 on these renovations to his home, which he calls the House of Nekko – Neko means ‘cat’ in Japanese.

Peter Cohen loves cats, so much so that he and his partner share their California home with twenty-four of them. A builder by trade, Cohen has dedicated a lot of time and ingenuity into making his two-story, three thousand-square-foot home a place that cats enjoy. Every room of the house is connected by a cat tunnel, a cat staircase or a cat skywalk. Speak Up visited Cohen in his architecturally amazing home. We began by asking him why he lives with so many cats. 

Peter Cohen (American accent): Well, we’ve adopted one or two cats every year, [or] every other year. We’ve just gone on lists. The shelters that I adopt from, they would call you up and say, “We have a cat. Can you take one more?” And that’s how it happened. I try to pick cats that no one else wants. We try to take black cats because Americans are superstitious. We take cats with bent tails, cats that are afraid of people – who have been traumatised – things like that. 

CAT-CARE

Cat House principal

Caring for cats comes at a cost. Around one thousand dollars a month is spent on average on the cats’ food, toys and medical needs, said Cohen. However, costs get much higher as the cats age – with some bills reaching as high as ten thousand dollars. Cohen said that the unconditional love that cats give is more than enough repayment for him. But do they have as much love for each other?

Peter Cohen: For the most part, but their personalities change over the years so as one cat may start to pick on another cat, we’ll separate them, in different parts of the house. They can be grumpy, they can be sad ... Just like humans.

CATLIKE

And, do human beings who live with cats share their character traits? 

Peter Cohen: That’s an interesting question. Maybe. I don’t like noise and I don’t like silence. So the house always has – except now when you’re recording – it has music and water running all the time. That’s kind of catlike. Calm. It helps me [to] keep perspective. And you come home from a stressful day and cats come and purr, it’s just very relaxing.

LESS CARS MORE CATS

Cat House Interior

Some people think that cats are happier outdoors. But in a city, said Cohen, indoors is safer.

Peter Cohen:  My position is: in a city like this, it’s way better to have them indoors. Outdoors, there are so many dangers. I’ve told you that I’ve lost a couple that were outdoors. And indoors, they’re very happy. They’re very healthy. They don’t have fleas. Cats adapt to their space. Even if I put a cat in one room, after a while, the cat will be happy to live in that one room.

THE DOG QUESTION

People are often categorised by whether they are a cat person or a dog person. We asked Cohen what the difference was.  

Peter Cohen: People who like animals are in one group and people who don’t, I don’t understand. I divide it that way. I don’t see a difference between cat people and dog people except dogs to me are more like human babies. They need more attention. Cats love attention but they also don’t need it.

AN OUTLAW

And, Cohen admitted, having this many cats under one roof is risky. 

Peter Cohen: It’s illegal to own this many cats. In this city, the limit is six. And in fact when I was adopting cats, the local shelters would no longer adopt to me because they knew I had so many cats. So we started adopting from shelters in San Diego or San Francisco. And if the government finds out through all these interviews, they will probably force me to get a kennel licence… I understand the rules. The rules are to prevent hoarding and if the animals aren’t treated well, but I’m pretty confident I could convince them that the animals are treated well.

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