Cat owners get creative during lockdown


03 September 2020
Being at home more during lockdown, some cat owners decided to use the time to make incredible creations for their feline friends!

There were some things in lockdown that we’ll never forget: the weekly clap for the NHS, the toilet roll shortage, rainbows in every window, and the elusive search for a supermarket delivery slot. This was also the time when cats became ‘co-workers’ of those working from home — and pet owners realised just how much time their furry friends spent napping.

With so much time spent at home, some owners took the opportunity to create masterpieces for their cats! Discover here these incredible examples of lockdown love for felines…

The ultimate catio

One couple took their love for their cats to another level — by building them a catio fit for a king.

Siberian cats Enzo and Oreo now have a magnificent outdoor play area, with jumping platforms, climbing ropes, a marvellous assortment of cat toys and tunnels, lots of hidey-holes to snuggle up in and sleep, a hidden toilet area, and cat-friendly artificial grass.

“Our goal was to make it a cat paradise, so we tried to think of everything we could to stimulate them,” explains owner Evie Bowers. “My partner and I had plenty of time on our hands as we had both been furloughed so we decided to make it a Covid-19 project.”

The cats’ new space has shelves which run across every wall at various heights and large circular holes for them to clamber through. There’s a special high-rise platform, a large central climbing frame, a scratching post, a paddling pool for hot days, an eating and drinking station, pillows, cushions, and beds galore. The catio is finished off in bright white with funky tree, bird, and plant decorations, and the cats’ names in beautiful lettering.

Evie and her partner, Phil Barnes, had had their hearts broken when their previous kitties, Ralph and Eric, had died unexpectedly young from heart disease and being hit by a car. The crash had particularly scarred them and they had decided if they were to ever have cats again that they would be indoor only to avoid any more heartache.

Evie said that they wanted to make sure that even though Enzo and Oreo would live indoors that they had plenty of space for fun: “Having owned cats all our lives, we know that it is a cat’s prerogative to want to explore so we were sure that our boys needed an outdoor space that was secure but full of fun.”

Phil and Evie decided they would use lockdown to convert a disused garden shed at their home in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

“We had never made anything like this before,” says Evie, “but fortunately my partner is an experienced plumber with other great DIY skills. He is also an extremely creative person so I bought into his vision and simply helped out where I could!”

The pair managed to reuse most of the wood from the dismantled shed and bought other supplies from DIY shops, which were operating in lockdown using click and collect. With artificial grass, plywood, paint, wire mesh, and new decking, the cost quickly mounted up to about £500 but Evie and Phil were happy as this seemed a good price for a beautiful bespoke outdoor space for Enzo and Oreo.

After 10 days of toil, the 12 square metre catio was ready for the cats. Evie says: “At first, they were a bit nervous as it’s a new environment for them, so we put them in for short periods of time to introduce them gradually. By day three of this process, they were sitting by the backdoor meowing to go out.”

The catio has been a massive hit with Enzo and Oreo — and with Evie and Phil too, who often sit out there too, playing with the cats or relaxing. “It has enabled our indoor cats to get outside and that in itself is a beautiful thing. When they are inside the catio they are enjoying being cats and getting all the health benefits,” says Evie.

“People often forget that having an indoor cat comes with one big problem, ensuring that the cats cannot escape! Our lockdown catio has been an absolute hit — it has not only improved the cats’ quality of life but also ours.”

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Cardboard tanks

During lockdown, social media was awash with owners creating cardboard tanks for their furry friends. Tapping into our felines love of sitting in boxes, owners decorated them to look like the army vehicles!

Children’s TV presenter Ricky Martin and his girlfriend, Zoe Veness, went full camo with their tank for their rescue cats Mango Chutney and Creepy.

The couple, from Bristol, were challenged to make the vehicle by a friend and animator Ricky knew where to start: with the pile of cardboard boxes that they had been stockpiling from lockdown deliveries. He said: “After working with Aardman Animations for nearly 15 years, making stuff is second nature and cardboard is generally the weapon of choice. But we knew we wanted to make our tank stand out from the crowd.”

When the snazzy tank was finished, Persian Mango didn’t care at all about it. But exotic shorthair Creepy was intrigued and the 11-year-old rescue climbed in and made herself at home. The tank now has pride of place in their lounge with a blanket in the bottom and Creepy sleeps in it. Ricky added: “As well as a comfy bed, the tank also serves as a memory of doing something good during lockdown. It’s also been lovely to see on social media all the different types of tanks adults and kids have created for their cats.”

With schools being closed due to lockdown, many parents used the cat tank craze to encourage their kids to get creative — and that’s how mum Emma Roomes found herself making a tank for the family’s cat, Slippers.

“Making a cat tank was definitely not on my to-do list before the pandemic,” said Emma, who works from her Inverness home designing and printing t-shirts for her company Scarf Monkey. The coronavirus crisis meant her children Matilda, 11, and nine-year-old Oscar needed something to keep them occupied while Emma worked — and a home-made tank was the answer!

Emma said: “We don’t make things for Slippers as a rule. She loves to pretend to be a real Scottish Wildcat, stalking in the fields behind the house and doesn’t need entertaining. This was definitely more about us than her!”

The children used cardboard boxes and crisp tubes to craft their funky vehicle while Slippers, a gorgeous grey Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat cross, watched on. Then dad Will and the kids carefully painted their creation in glorious camouflage.

Laid-back Slippers, five, jumped straight in the tank, turned a few circles and then curled up for a snooze. “The kids really enjoyed the project and the tank is in my son’s bedroom now.” Emma added: “We might make a cardboard palace next as I think Slippers would feel it’s her rightful place!”

Welder Matty Aistrop put some serious effort into the craze, even spending his 31st birthday making lockdown creations for his three cats, Elvira, Felicity, and Margo, — a tank and a spaceship!

“My wife, Vicky, is very artistic and concentrated on the spaceship while I just wanted to make something that looked cool that the cats would love,” said Matty, from Lincoln. “It was a great way to spend a lockdown birthday.”

Elvira supervised the birthday craft session while Margo preferred to help by jumping in and out of the spaceship. “We put the cats’ initials on the tank and spaceship and Margo still plays with the tank,” said Matty. “Our cats have been such a comfort to us during lockdown; it was a fun thing to do — although we joked that if the tank was real, Elvira would definitely use it to take over the world!”

Art gallery

“We were all bored during lockdown and our cat, who usually loves to go outside, was staring out of the window,” explains stand-up comedian Jake Lambert. “Richard Parker had injured his foot on a nail so wasn’t allowed out. So, we thought we’d give him something else to look at indoors so he knew it wasn’t all bad being stuck inside, and my girlfriend, Jess, came up with the idea of creating an art show.”

And that’s how the jet-black moggy ended up being lucky enough to have his own art gallery at his home in Colliers Wood, London. Richard Parker now enjoys his very own private cat-sized exhibition of 11 assorted famous paintings. These include works by Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet, but instead of humans, they aptly depict cats, mostly created by an artist called Svetlana Petrova and featuring her ginger tom Zarathustra.

Jake and his girlfriend, Jess Atkins, wanted to make the exhibition in their hallway as realistic as possible so made a red security rope to protect the artwork and, of course, added signs to make sure visitors knew there was to be no photography or eating. And Richard Parker — named after the tiger in Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ — lapped up the exhibition. Jess, a head veterinary nurse at the Royal Veterinary College in London, said: “He seemed to really have an eye for art. Richard Parker has always been a nosey cat who inspects anything new, so he stopped and took each one in.”

The three-year-old cat sadly lost his right eye when he was six months old after being hit by a BB gun. Jess said that it hadn’t really impacted his life though: “Richard Parker is a talented cat who knows lots of tricks; he can ring a bell for a treat, shake hands, sit on command, and jump through a hoop.”

The pandemic has put a temporary stop to gigs for Jake, who opens for Michael McIntyre and Romesh Ranganathan, so he’s had lots of time to spend with Richard Parker. Jake said: “I often talk about him on stage. With Jess being a veterinary nurse, she is very big on telling people to make sure they have pet insurance. I often tell people how I didn’t understand what pet insurance was at first and assumed it meant if something happened to him they’d send us a courtesy cat!”

The gallery is still up and the couple still find the affectionate feline in the hallway checking out the art. Jake, added: “Richard Parker loves looking at all the gallery but he returns time and time again to stare at The Creation of Adam. We have a feeling that the fact it depicts a cat as god might have something to do with why it’s his favourite.”

Have you been inspired to make something for your cat? Let us know by emailing [email protected]

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