6 min read

Guy Spends A Year Building The Most Incredible Play Space For His Cat

“She definitely knows that I built it for her" ❤️️😍

When Derek Roche’s girlfriend first brought up the idea of adopting a cat, he wasn’t really into it. She was so excited about it, though, that he decided to go along with it, so they welcomed Jellli into their family — and it didn’t take long before Roche and Jellli were best friends. 

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

outdoor play space
Derek Roche

Jellli was an incredibly confident and curious kitten, and Roche loved taking her outside into the yard so she could explore. He loved seeing the way she would light up whenever she was outside, and that’s when he first came up with the idea to build her an outdoor play space. 

When Jellli suddenly started having health issues, she became more reserved and hesitant, and Roche knew that an outdoor play space was more important than ever to help her cope with her issues and gain some of her confidence back. Roche and his girlfriend adopted two more cats who also loved being outside, which sealed the deal, and Roche officially began working on building his cats the coolest outdoor play space ever. 

outdoor play space
Derek Roche

Roche had never attempted a project like this before and didn’t really have any experience. He essentially had to figure it all out as he went — but luckily, Jellli was always there to offer him some guidance. 

“There was a lot of detail in the work and I was pretty much learning as I went,” Roche said. “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.” 

outdoor play space
Derek Roche

Roche worked on the project most days before he went to work and on the weekends as well, and slowly but surely it began to take shape. Finally, after working on it for a year, the outdoor play space was ready, and Roche couldn’t wait for his cats to experience it. 

outdoor play space
Derek Roche

From the moment they saw it, Jellli and her brother Smudge absolutely adored their new outdoor space. Their sister Penny took a few extra days to warm up to it, but now she loves it, and is probably out there the most out of the three. They love spending all day playing out there together and taking naps in the various corners, and Roche is so glad that all his hard work paid off. 

outdoor play space
Derek Roche

The outdoor play space has its own litter boxes, and Roche always makes sure there’s fresh water for the cats to enjoy. Right now, there isn’t a way for the cats to safely go from the outdoor space into the house on their own, but Roche is in the process of building a skywalk that will connect the two so the cats can go back and forth whenever they want. 

outdoor play space
Derek Roche

Roche knew that spending more time outside would bring Jellli and her siblings so much joy, so he built the coolest outdoor play space ever just to make them happy. 

outdoor play space
Derek Roche

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