ANYONE handy with a saw and a staple gun can build a simple version of this outdoor fun park for felines, devised by Susan and Dan Gottlieb of Beverly Hills.
The open-air cat run wanders up, down and around the house. Viewing platforms wind up to the roof for bird-watching and sunbathing. Playpens at ground level allow games and snoozes.
Ever since the Gottliebs moved here in 1985, they wanted each cat to enjoy the outdoors as much as they do. But that would have been too dangerous for the animals, which could have wandered off or been attacked by predators.
And too dangerous for the birds. Blue jays, finches, doves, quail, Cooper's hawks, wrens, sparrows, great horned owls and kestrels are drawn to the California native plants and trees that fill an acre at the Gottliebs' rambling one-story hillside house.
"They're too numerous to name them all," Susan says. "They're outside our door all day, every day. We never know who's going to show up."
In 2000, after one of their cats accidentally got out of the house and was killed by a coyote, the couple hired a carpenter to build an enclosed run. At first, it was a small area, accessed through one door. When the couple realized how much the cats enjoyed their protected outdoor existence, the design was expanded. Now five cat doors lead from the house into the run.
The Gottliebs, who own the G2 nature and wildlife gallery in Venice, had the path made of redwood planks and wire fencing sold in 4-foot-wide rolls. They shaped the fencing into a tunnel and stapled it to the sides of the wood platform. Parts are carpeted with rubberized matting typically used as kitchen drawer lining -- ideal for protecting paws and preventing skids.
Spike, Shadow, Cleopatra and Angel seem content now that they have the run of the house, indoors and out. But the Gottliebs say they may add an extension, to allow the cats to go down the hill to observe four-footed creatures wandering there.
"The great thing about this kind of run is that it's relatively easy and inexpensive to build," Susan says. "People can start very small, like we did. And then let your cats dictate where to take it from there."