Building Shelters for City Cats

| 17 Feb 2015 | 12:58

Architects for Animals is hosting a design competition to find and create shelters for feral cats, who need protection from icy temperatures With temperatures dipping to record lows this week, most people will be keeping themselves - and their beloved pets - warm and safe indoors. But the city is home to a large, roving population of wild cats who cannot be domesticated yet still need shelter to survive the winter. Architects for Animals is a project that began to address the needs of these feral critters. Every year since its inception, it has hosted an exhibit where architectural firms unveil prototypes for cat shelters.

The project, founded by Leslie Farrell in 2010, provides housing and shelter for feral, stray, and homeless animals, particularly cats.

"Four years ago I moved to a neighborhood where the problem was very ongoing and I wanted to see if I could help," Ferrell said.

Farrell got into contact with the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals - an organization that rescues and aids homeless dogs and cats.

"I went to the website to build my own shelter," Farrell said, remembering how she made her foray into feline housing, "It's my 'what If I got into architecture' dream." is a site which provides "do it yourself" instructions on how one can build their own cat shelter using hard Styrofoam, linoleum tiles, and paint, among other materials.

Farrell's program is not-for-profit, and the participating architectural firms volunteer their time, money, and effort to parlay their expertise into constructing kitten cabanas.

The general requirements for a shelter to be approved are that it be weatherproof, non-toxic, have no electrical components and be properly insulated.

Farrell said that the recommended maximum occupancy for each should be two to three cats. "The smaller it is the better. If the inside is is too big and cavernous, it might not hold in the heat as well," she said.

Cats maintain an internal body temperature from 100.5 to 102.5 degrees. The ingenuity in the housing limit will essentially utilize the cats' own body temperatures to keep them extra cozy.

It is not exactly known just how many stray and feral cats are roaming about in New York City. Estimates go up to the tens of thousands, but even cat advocates admit it is extremely hard to count them.

This year on Jan. 30, Architects for Animals will host its fourth annual Giving Shelter event. The exhibition will feature eight archiectural firms whose shelters will be installed in feral cat colonies across the city. Among the architectural firms participating in this year's exhibition are Carlton Architecture, deSoto studio Architects PC, Francis Cauffman, Incorporated, M Moser Associates, Two One Two Design, and Zimmerman Workshop Architecture + Design.

The NYC based project has hosted events in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles in recent years to benefit animal organizations based in the locales.