Late last year New Zealander Billy Browne enjoyed his 15 minutes of Internet noteriety when he shot to fame for the video he created showing how he built a play tower out of boxes for his moggy Rufus.

Have an auld watch to see how he did it. Lucky Rufus, eh?

My pal Tony, the owner of the two very friendly house cats you can see at the top, Oscar (the ginger) and Tabigail (the tabby, say her name with a silent T), decided to get in on the action.

Catima Mansions

The tower half-way through construction

So, how and why did he do it? “I was sick of spending a fortune on endless cat toys for them that they’d loose or wouldn’t use, and I saw the video on Panti’s blog and decided to give it a go,” he said.  So, wasn’t it a bit of a labour of love? “No, not at all,” he laughs. “It took about half an hour.”

Helper cat is helping

Helper cat is helping

Assembling the boxes provided the cats with lots of opportunities to ‘help’, and he has a warning. “I went off to answer the phone at one point and came back, not realising that one of them was inside, started cutting the cubby hole out of a box and nearly skewered him.”  Rightio: have a gander inside each before you get out that sharp knife, kids.

They get really active about 8pm and would race in and out of the tunnels

Deciding on the configuration of boxes, Tony reckoned the moggies would enjoy a series of tunnels to run through and places on which to perch, and he built it like a stairs so they could climb up and down. “I’d come in from work every day and one would be curled up inside, and one would be up top,” so they really loved using it. At night, the tower came alive for them. “They get really active about 8pm and would race in and out of the tunnels,” he says, adding that they knew right away it was for them and what to do; there was no coaxing involved.

I wondered if it wasn’t all a bit impractical space-wise but he points out that you can push it up against a wall or in behind the couch – you could put it in the hallway either. For house cats, it’s a great way for them to get some much-needed exercise.

Catima Mansions

As Tony lives in Herberton, on the site of the old Fatima Mansions development, there was only one thing for it when it came to naming his creation: Catima Mansions it was. Love it.

Oscar had a fondness for sharpening his claws on the boxes so gradually, Catima Mansions started to develop some cracks in its foundations and had to be binned, but not, Tony points out, until it had given his pair of pusses “months of happiness.”

Would he do it again? “Definitely,” he says. “I’ve bought them this really expensive scratching post-cum-sleepy thing and they don’t like it half as much. Typical!”


12 (or more) office boxes. Tony bought his at Argos for €12, which worked out at a bargain-tastic €1 per box
A roll of parcel tape
A stanley or craft knife