Cats

Man spends more than a year creating an outdoor jungle gym for his adopted cats

June 20th, 2020

Derek Roche definitely wasn’t a cat person. So when his girlfriend proposed adopting a cat, he was not remotely interested.

But after much convincing, Derek gave in and together they adopted Jellli. It took less than 24 hours for Derek to be a changed man.

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Facebook/Derek Roche Source: Facebook/Derek Roche

He fell in love with the stunning black cat and its mesmerizing eyes. He was smitten!

“The first night my girlfriend asked if [Jellli] could sleep in our bed for just one night. By the following day, I was head over heels in love with her.”

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The Dodo Source: The Dodo

Even as a kitten, Jellli was confident and energetic. Her humans took her outside so she could explore the yard.

Her curiosity with the great outdoors inspired Derek to conjure up the most incredible jungle gym for the feline. When Jellli’s health took a turn for the worse, she regressed.

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Facebook/Derek Roche Source: Facebook/Derek Roche

Heartbroken, Derek and his girlfriend were even more motivated to help their furbaby. The couple adopted two more cats to become her pals and the trio relished roaming the yard.

Derek hadn’t been in the workshop since high school 40 years prior. He was a bit nervous about tackling such a massive mountain of a project.

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Facebook/Derek Roche Source: Facebook/Derek Roche

But he knew Jellli needed him to come through for her. He just had to do this for her!

“There was a lot of detail in the work and I was pretty much learning as I went. I had a plan in my head and I pretty much stuck to that. Jellli came on-site every day and I watched her movements and her reactions to how things were going, where she liked to sit, how she climbed around the structure. And I used her to get a sense of scale for walkways, doors, etc. I tell people that, as well as my muse, she was my site manager and co-designer.”

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Facebook/Derek Roche Source: Facebook/Derek Roche

Early in the morning before work and on weekends, Derek poured his heart and soul into the project. It took more than a year, but finally, the wildly huge playset was ready for the felines.

“Jellli was there from the first day when I dug the foundation holes, and she’s been pretty fascinated at every new stage. She definitely knows that I built it for her.”

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Facebook/Derek Roche Source: Facebook/Derek Roche

Jellli and her brother Smudge instantly gravitated toward their new gargantuan toy. Their sister Penny wasn’t as adventurous right away, but after just a few days she fell in love with it, too.

These precious pets will spend all day cavorting about their playset. They’ll even pause for cat naps during their frisky days.

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The Dodo Source: The Dodo

Knowing how much they love it made all that hard work worthwhile, Derek indicated. The playset is equipped with fresh water and litter boxes.

“She’s my best friend and I can’t imagine life without her.”

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Facebook/Derek Roche Source: Facebook/Derek Roche

For ease of access, Derek is contemplating how to construct a skywalk that will connect the house to the play structure so the cats can stroll back and forth at will.

It’s important for indoor cats to be able to exercise, even though some days it seems as if they don’t move from the same spot. Many cats will sleep up to 16 hours a day and save their exuberant exercise periods for when everyone else in the house is sound asleep.

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Facebook/Derek Roche Source: Facebook/Derek Roche

Playtime also gives cats more than just exercise. It helps relieve anxiety, stress and boredom. If they don’t have an outlet, they’ll go after shoes, curtains, toes and other things they can attempt to attack as if they’re a tiger seeking out prey in the wild.

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The Dodo Source: The Dodo

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Source: The Dodo, Facebook/Wood Projects & Restoration, I Heart Cats, Our Pets

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