David Callisch, a landlord of a 425-square-foot studio apartment in San Jose, California, thinks his two tenants, Louise and Tina, are pretty ideal.
“They don’t drink. They don’t smoke. They don’t play loud music,” Callisch told Bay Area news channel ABC7. Plus, they pay their $1,500-a-month rent on time.
Or rather, someone else pays their rent on time, because Louise and Tina are cats.
The two fancy felines, named after characters in the animated show “Bob’s Burgers,” live in a space behind Callisch’s Silicon Valley home that includes a bathroom with a shower, an Apple TV and a cat tree. There is no kitchen, but there is a sink and plenty of cabinet space for cans or bags of cat food.
“It’s quirky, isn’t it? I never planned for this to happen,” Callisch told KPIX 5, a CBS affiliate in the Bay Area. “People love their pets, they’re part of their family, so I wanted to help out my buddy.”
His buddy is Troy Good, 43, according to the East Bay Times. Good’s daughter, Victoria Amith, 18, left for college at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. She couldn’t move her cats into her freshman dorm, so she left them with her father. But when her dad moved in with his fiancée, who has a dog, all of the animals clashed. So Good turned to his friend Callisch, who was originally going to use the space for an Airbnb.
“He says, ‘Hey, would you mind if I – how about if I rented your place?’” Callisch fold KPIX 5. “I said, ‘Well, what do you mean?’ He says, ‘Well, you wouldn’t have to deal with people all the time if you rented it, and I could stick the cats there. I’m close, I could come visit.’ I said, ‘Really?’”
Some on Twitter were perturbed by the story about the cats, given the significant income disparity in the Bay Area.
Silicon Valley is a place with so much inequality where thousands of people sleep on the streets every night while someone rents a below-market studio for $1,500 a month to two catshttps://t.co/2n3FKmRs3h
— Mike Rosenberg (@ByRosenberg) January 13, 2019
This is the “out of touch” reality that exists in Silicon Valley … while others sleep on the streets … | San Jose apartment rents for $1,500 to two cats https://t.co/sqkTH6Frqz
— Scott C. Lemon (@humancell) January 14, 2019
In October 2018, Leilani Farha, a United Nations special rapporteur, visited Oakland and San Francisco as part of a fact-finding mission about housing and expressed horror at the “cruel and inhumane” treatment of homeless residents in one of the wealthiest areas of the nation. Farha called the homelessness crisis there a “violation of multiple human rights” in a report.
“While this story is funny, it really does highlight the tremendous inequity in the Silicon Valley,” Jennifer Loving, CEO of Destination Home, an organization working to end homelessness in Santa Clara County, told the East Bay Times. “We have thousands of people on our streets, and we’re paying to make sure that our cats have a place to live.”
Amith seems aware of how her cats’ living arrangement could be perceived.
“It’s not in a public space, it’s in someone’s backyard, because there’s obviously a huge housing issue in the area,” she told KPIX 5. “And I don’t want people to be like, ‘Oh, this is taking away the housing.’”
Amith told the East Bay Times that she loves her cats very much and plans to have them live with her as soon as she moves out of the dorm.
“I love my cats so much,” she said. “I’m so attached to them. I’m like a cat lady.”