Every morning, the adoptable cats in the Mulligan Room at Cattyshack Cafe in Fort Myers, Florida are greeted with the joy and friendliness of seeing friends you haven’t seen in years, either by Andrew, one of the cat café owners or by one of their staff members. And the cats all come running to say hello!
When we did our palm tree and golf bag rack installation for the café-opening in the Spring of 2020, we had designs for a golf “clubhouse” that would be the focal point of the rear wall, but time didn’t permit us to fulfill on the idea, and Andrew and Amber’s contractor was able to install a faux shed roof on the wall to imply the look of a clubhouse just in time for their grand opening.
As time passed, however, Cattyshack found that having multiple cats could sometimes result in a “bully” situation where one cat might prevent another from getting into the “escape room,” the back-of-house room where the cats find both their litter boxes and refuge from the humans.
Plus, some kitties were using the palm fronds on the trees we created as “diving boards” to launch them onto the top of the shed roof. It was clear that the clubhouse needed to become a full-fledged element in the Mulligan Room.
So, in 2022, Cattyshack asked us to retrofit the shed roof to become more cat-friendly and to help complete what the great cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy refers to as the “cat superhighway,” that is, a means for felines to move around a room unfettered by human interaction.
In addition, they wanted the roof to tie in to the escape room, but at a point ABOVE the door, giving the cats a secondary way to find refuge in case another cat was blocking the door at floor-level.
We went to work right away, developing plans and elevations and images of what we’d draw inspiration from. Rather than a stuffy golf clubhouse, though, Andrew and Amber wanted more of a Key West vibe, bright and colorful with the feel of a snack shack at the 18th hole.
We devised a scheme to adhere clapboard paneling to the existing wall in lime green paint with white 1×3 trim and brackets to appear as if holding up both the shed roof and a fake “fold-down” hatch of the snack shack. We would create a new housing for the flat-screen TV on the wall and flank it with two cat-climbing cabinets with blackboard signs highlighting the food offerings and the house rules at the shack.
In addition, we would create a vertical melamine “tunnel” through the shed roof as one means of access for the cats up to the rooftop. And Amber and Andrew requested a sign post as the second means of access, mounted at the corner of the wall. We would build five signs with cat platforms behind, all stacked on a wood post and secured to the wall.
The last aspect of the design was how to tie in the roof to the escape room. We thought to build it in white PVC so as not to appear as part of the clubhouse/snack shack roof. Then Amber had the brilliant idea of having part of this “bridge” built with a clear plexiglass platform. After all, who doesn’t love seeing a cat loaf on glass while standing below?
At the end of September, 2022, our items were finished at our shop and we were ready to install. We arrived on a Saturday and began to get underway. Being an operational cat cafe, though, presented problems. Cats can be a little too curious about new construction. So, the kitties were returned to the Gulf Coast Humane Society while we did our construction. But we had to be finished by Tuesday afternoon since Cattyshack had a trivia night event scheduled Tuesday evening.
Though not without some nail-biting, we met the challenge and wrapped up all our touch-up work by Wednesday afternoon.
As always, it gave us great joy to see the cats take to their new clubhouse structure immediately!