Even non-cat lovers take some pleasure in watching those cute cat videos that populate the Internet – cat in snow, cat sneezing, cat surfing, etc. However, the Japanese housing and construction group Asahi Kasei has taken the love of all things feline to a new level. After researching what cat owners and their cats want most from a home, the company created a living space that offers all the modern amenities plus an animal-friendly environment tailored specifically to the needs of cats, with platforms to jump from and tunnels to explore.
It’s perhaps not surprising that this comes from Japan, a country whose citizens, as the online cat-fancier magazine Hauspanther put it, “treat their pets like children.” (See, for example, the cat cafes that have become popular in Tokyo.) Asahi Kasei has created a house that features “open air cat walks, climbing steps, extra space in the bathroom designed especially for a litter box and special fences to prevent cats from escaping.” They’ve even built the homes with materials that resist scratching and are easy to clean.
But let those who are without sin hurl the first hairball. The Hauspanther website itself has plenty of offerings for Japanese and gaijin alike who maybe take their pets a bit too seriously, including a whole section dedicated to the gifts you can buy for your beloved pet this Valentine’s Day. (“Organic Catnip Hearts” appear to be hot sellers.)
But why are humans so dedicated to these fury animals who, to be honest, often fail to reciprocate the love and affection their owners lavish over them? According to the Scientific American, a third of American households own a cat; there are more than 600 million cats living among humans worldwide. It was originally believed that domestication was initiated by the Egyptians around 3,600 years ago. However, recent archaeological findings lead us to believe that it could go back as far as 10,000 years ago. This probably had more to do with a cat’s tendency to scare mice away rather than with their adorably fluffy tails, but studies do show that cats and humans have been hanging out together for quite a while.