Cats across Missoula are getting an upgrade in their dwellings courtesy of kids, parents and grandparents, along with the Missoula Public Library.

“Cat Castles,” a first for the library, had Missoulians building multi-tiered spires for their feline family members out of cardboard stockpiled after the holidays.

The inspiration for Saturday’s event came to Crystal Kobayashi, a reference librarian and member of the library’s program committee, through a book she checked out for her and her family: “Cat Castles,” by Carin Oliver.

Kobayashi said a cardboard airplane proved to be a hit with her two cats, and she learned that a similar event at a Spokane library proved to be a hit with families.

“We also needed to build something new. Our cats love to scratch at the cardboard, so the plane kind of fell apart,” she said.

Her husband and daughter had a new home standing for Lilo and Finn within an hour of the library opening its large meeting room for the event. Kimiko put the finishing touches on a polka-dotted tower complete with ramparts by drawing a cat’s face at its entrance.

“We put the word out on Facebook, Twitter and our newsletter, and the response was fantastic,” she said.

Kimiko and Kenji Kobayashi joined nearly 20 other people, with kids directing most of the architecture and adults handling the taping and cutting. With a copy of Oliver’s book on hand for reference, castles took shape from single-stories to high-rises.

Diane Reinhardt had the foundation for a castle squared away until her grandchildren, Leon and Nola, decided on an entirely new look.

“There’s been a change of plans,” Reinhardt said while holding a box cutter.

They settled on a three-story home for their two cats, each floor with windows for them to enter.

“We’ve also got a dog at home, so we want them to have a space where they can crawl in and be able to keep an eye on things,” she said.

Jordan Rogers and his son, Rhylande, added some ingenuity to their castle by installing a scratching post by wrapping a length of rope around one of the thinner boxes.

“It’s definitely not an expensive project,” Rogers said.

With the Facebook post for “Cat Castles” generating about 80% more responses than any of the others recently hosted by the library, coupled with the impressive turnout, Kobayashi said she’s considering bringing more family construction events.

“What comes to mind is blanket and pillow forts,” she said.

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