ST. JAMES, Minn. (WCCO) – People often build outdoor swing sets, tree houses and even skating rinks outside for their kids.
But in southern Minnesota, Greg Krueger has created a playground that's all indoors, and all for his cats.
From elaborate tunnels and platforms to overhead catwalks, it's a virtual feline amusement park.
"I just love trails and paths, and cats, of course," Krueger said. "And so I've just linked those passions together."
Krueger's four cats get to look down on their owner from nearly 100 yards of catwalks through every room. They can also scamper away to their choice of hideouts, all with proper lighting and padding.
"I don't feel like I live alone, even though I'm the only person living here," said Krueger. "We're like a family."
Krueger has been renovating his home for more than 15 years, carving through his walls to create passageways in various shapes – a heart, a Charlie Brown head and even the state of Minnesota. It's like a puzzle, he said, that he never quite finishes.
"I think about it constantly, I can't fall asleep," he said. "I'm still thinking about it, thinking about the design. I wake up, I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about it all day at work."
It's an obsession that started making sense last fall when he saw a doctor.
Finally diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at the age of 49, Krueger considers his form of autism to be a blessing that gives him great focus.
"Obviously, my house would not be like this if I didn't have Asperger's," he said. "If it takes a long time, I don't care because if I like what I'm doing, I almost don't want to finish what I'm doing."
He's doing it for those who've always seemed to understand him, from the time he was a boy.
"It's been said that all cats have Asperger Syndrome," he said. "So I think that might be one reason why I really love cats is that I kind of think that I can understand their personality really well."
Others may see them as different, even distant, but Greg Krueger and his cats have a closeness that works.
"I can tell that they love me," he said. "I know they love me because I love them too."
Besides all the catwalks and crawl spaces indoors, Krueger has one more treat outside his home. He has a garden in his front yard growing fresh catnip.
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