Architects Build Designer Homes for Feral Cats

 |  Dec 9th 2011  |   6 Contributions


Martini, a rescued cat, lounges in the winning shelter designed by Kathryn Walton, founder of the American Street Cat, Inc., and Co Adaptive Architecture. Photo by Dana Edelson

The roaming cats of New York City need winter shelters, and who better to design and build them than the super-creative individuals in the city's architectural community?

That's what Leslie Farrell thought. So she created Architects for Animals, which brings together feral cat advocates and architects with a soft spot for homeless kitties.

Architects for Animals' biggest fundraising activity is an annual designer cat shelter showcase and contest. Architectural firms donate their time and labor to create an array of avant-garde mini-houses where community cats can come in from the cold.

After the winner is chosen, the shelters are donated to feral cat colony caretakers throughout New York's five boroughs. Proceeds from ticket sales for the event are donated to the New York City Feral Cat Initiative, a joint program of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals and Neighborhood Cats, two nonprofits whose goal is to solve the feral cat overpopulation crisis through a citywide trap-neuter-return program.

This year's Architects for Animals Giving Shelter exhibition was held on Dec. 6 at the swanky Steelcase Showroom in midtown Manhattan. Check out the photos from the event and the array of creative kitty houses. The winning entry, created by Kathryn Walton, founder of The American Street Cat, and Co Adaptive Architecture, was a yellow structure that looks an awful lot like a movie theater popcorn box, but is warm and well insulated.

I imagine that the architects who designed the shelters don't have all that many opportunities to just go wild and really stretch their creative wings. After all, high-rises and office buildings all have to be built within a certain set of specifications — understandably so, because nobody wants their multimillion-dollar tower to come crashing to the ground — and there really aren't all that many astonishingly wealthy individual homeowners who can afford the services of high-end architects. The designs of feral cat houses, on the other hand, are limited only by the imagination.

I doubt that the four-legged members of the lucky community cat colonies will realize their new shelters are wildly creative buildings designed by high-end architects with a progressive vision of housing for all creatures. But hopefully these intriguing structures will cause the occasional New Yorker to stop for a moment and turn their eyes to the tens of thousands of feral cats needing shelter and care.

Here's a video from the 2010 Giving Shelter exhibition. It's worth watching, not only for the chance to see more incredible cat houses but for the excellent sound-bite-size discussion of why TNR is so important.

(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

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