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The Cats' House closes shop in SoCal

By: SUE MANNING The Associated Press
July 21, 2013
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photo - This undated photo released courtesy Bob Walker showing Bob Walker and Frances Mooney's home after it was painted to sell in San Diego Calif.  Walker and  Mooney moved into the house in 1986 and started converting it into a human-sized cat condo with 140 feet of elevated highway, tunnels, ramps, a spiral staircase, rest areas and scenic vistas. It even had a floor to ceiling scratching post. One improvement seemed to lead to another. (AP Photo/Courtesy Bob Walker)
This undated photo released courtesy Bob Walker showing Bob Walker and Frances Mooney's home after it was painted to sell in San Diego Calif. Walker and Mooney moved into the house in 1986 and started converting it into a human-sized cat condo with 140 feet of elevated highway, tunnels, ramps, a spiral staircase, rest areas and scenic vistas. It even had a floor to ceiling scratching post. One improvement seemed to lead to another. (AP Photo/Courtesy Bob Walker) 

They enjoyed the high life for years. Now eight cats accustomed to the creature comforts of a house that features an elevated feline freeway have not only been brought down to Earth, but squeezed into a 30-foot motorhome with the family Chihuahua.

Gus, Sam, Dave, Stella, Lili, Eddie, Zander, Willow and Sadie the Chihuahua are biding their time in the motorhome, which is parked in the driveway of the San Diego home known for a quarter century as "The Cats' House."

Bob Walker and Frances Mooney have sold the house. Before the month is over, Walker, Mooney, cats and dog are moving to Fredericksburg, Va.

Walker and Mooney moved into the house in 1986 and turned it into a human-sized cat condo with 140 feet of elevated highway, tunnels, ramps, a spiral staircase, rest areas and scenic vistas. It even had a floor-to-ceiling scratching post.

Walker, 63, a photographer and builder, and Mooney, 61, an artist, shared the house.

Walker published eight photo books, including "The Cats' House." Over the years, the unusual home attracted more than 50 film crews from around the world. The couple was featured in a Chris Smith documentary, "Home Movie" shown at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and later released on DVD.

Walker, Mooney and the cats even had a line of postcards at Target.

Until five months ago, Walker said they thought they'd spend the rest of their lives in the four-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot home overlooking Mission Bay. Built in the 1950s, it was also Mooney's childhood home.

"Then we decided to go on a new adventure and move to the East Coast," Walker said.

Mooney "was always bonkers for cats," Walker said. On their wedding day in 1973, they adopted Beauregard, their first cat as a couple.

Over the years, they've had 35 cats, though never more than a dozen at once. They had eight litter boxes around the house and cleaned a lot, Walker said. In the motorhome, there is only room for one litter box - on the shower floor - and they have to change it at least twice a day.

In Fredericksburg, they plan to buy a home and build a bigger, better, longer, stronger and more artistic catwalk.

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