By Josh Saunders
A devoted brother has spent £12,000 turning his basement into the ultimate cat jungle.
Hilton Patton, 28, from Edmonton, Alberta, ploughed all the money he had and maxed out his credit cards to give Bengal’s Benji and Nala, five and three, the purr-fect play area.
It took him more than four months of hanging drywall, putting up shelving, carpeting the walls and installing lights to create the $15,000 playground, despite having little DIY experience.
But now the cats have everything from walls they can climb, high ledges to race around, scratch posts, soft snoozing spots, toys and more.
Hilton built the feline fun-house while grieving the loss of his brother Boston, who tragically lost his life to suicide last year at the age of 24 after battling with PTSD.
Hilton, a software engineer, said: “I just knew I wanted to do something for Boston and something he would have loved.
“I wanted to make a jungle thing as Bengal cats are kind of from the jungle and it all went from there.
“I started talking to his friends, I didn’t know much about cats or what they would like so I was working from my best guesses.
“Benji likes to climb walls which I could tell as Boston’s place had lots of holes in the walls, so I put carpet up on the walls so they could do that until their hearts were content.
“Someone told me Benji also likes being as high-up as possible, so I made shelves in high places.
“The cats love it so much, it’s really cool since letting them down there, Benji even opened up to me and lets me get one or two pets in now before walking away.
“I can hear them jumping and they love running around on the shelves, they climb the walls like crazy, I never knew.
“I thought they would use it but they use it a lot and love climbing up those walls, they genuinely love it.
“I try to spend as much time as I can down there, it feels as close as I can be to Boston when I go down.
“I wanted the cats to feel that he had a presence there still and that he can look down on them, it would be nice to think he is in the stars looking down on us.”
After Boston died Hilton took in his brother’s cats, having previously made a vow never to split them up, and set to work on something special in his memory.
To ensure animal lover Boston featured in the designs, he even installed an LED lights on the ceiling that create an outline of his brother from one of his favourite pictures.
Hilton set about the task months after his brother passed away in February last year, while in the midst of deep depression and pain trying to come to terms with the loss.
But knowing he had to take care of his brother’s cats provided a distraction and positive way to channel his energy and emotion.
Hilton said: “After Boston passed, I didn’t want to do anything at all I was in constant pain, but I knew I had to get the cats down there and let them see the place.
“It felt like I was doing something for him, I was just thinking about him all the time.”
Hilton learned a lot during the four-month task, doing all the work himself apart from having professionals sorting out the framing, laying the turf and the electrics.
While he believes it was an ‘amateur attempt’, friends and the online world are amazed by his work.
Hilton said: “I worked hours and hours, blood sweat and tears down there, I hope he would like it and wish I could do more, but thankfully it’s all over.
“I hope I did right by Boston, now I go down there to hang out with them, play with them and sometimes I read a book in the hammock, it’s good being down there.
“I maxed out all my cards, spent all my money, I spent everything I could but I don’t regret it at all.
“When you are in that much pain you don’t care about money, your job or anything, this was something for my little brother and I still stand by that.”
Reflecting on his brother’s battle with depression, Hilton urges anyone with suicidal thoughts to seek help from professionals, family and friends.
While he still aches from the loss of his brother, he takes solace in the knowledge that more people are learning Brandon’s name due to his quirky creation.
Additionally, he set up a fundraising page so that anyone can donate to buy cat toys for Boston’s beloved Bengal cats.
Hilton said: “If I could talk to Boston again, I would tell him I love him, that I miss him and would give him a hug. I would do anything for 30 more seconds with him.
“I’d like for him to know that I’m doing the best for his cats and that I tell them he loves them every day.”
To donate visit: https://www.gofundme.com/b039s-cat-jungle