Cat Shelters Get Stylish Spin in NYC

December 13, 2011 | By Amy Lieberman | Category: Entertainment | 10 comments
Tags: adoption & rescue, entertainment, charity, heroes, lifestyle & trends

Renowned designers create sleek spaces to benefit stray cats.

A handful of New York City’s tens of thousands of stray cats are set to stay warm this winter in sleek and sustainable creations that are they are sure to appreciate, but perhaps mostly for their warmth and comfort.

The fact that some of the world’s most renowned architects and designers, including Co Adaptive Architecture, FXFowle, Gage Clemenceau and RMJM, created the cats’ new houses will likely go a bit over their heads.

That wasn’t the case in the Steelcase Showroom in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday evening, as New York’s architectural and animal rescue community melded under the auspices of the second annual Architects for Animals’ project and showcase, “Giving Shelter.”

The event featured seven unique shelters that looked more fit for a place in a museum than in an alleyway of New York – where they will likely eventually wind up, serving their clientele: street cats.

Before Leslie Farrell, founder of the New York City-based initiative Architects for Animals, moved to uptown Manhattan, she says she never realized how widespread stray cat populations are in the city.

“They are just everywhere. At first I didn’t know what to think, and then it was like, well, I have to help them. You can see them suffering,” said Farrell, who works in business development and marketing with the design firm Switzer Group.

After Farrell rescued and adopted out four kittens from her backyard, she built a small shelter for more stray cats she found in her backyard – and then wondered how she could combine her work in the architectural industry with her commitment to helping the cats.

“I wondered if I could make an event where people can get enthusiastic. I never want to see an animal suffer, I love this industry and I thought it was a good fit,” she said.

Farrell herself designed and premiered a bright yellow and purple boxed and tiered shelter last night.

Not one design at the event looked the same: a team from Co Adaptive Architecture used a 20-pound yellow, plastic tub, recycled denim and moss to create a cozy habitat for cats. The home also has a weight sensor, which then activates a light on the tub, so people can see even from across the street if a cat is using the shelter at that time.

Representatives from Team Anemoi used recycled carpet to construct two 18-inch towers that had several nooks and crannies for cats to curl up and rest in. The carpet carved out from the towers rested in circles, perhaps as launching pads, next to the structures.

“There’s a place for scratching, climbing, perching, napping, and a way for them to keep warm,” said Christina Ciardullo, one of the designers, who said she and her team paid special attention to stray cats’ particular needs as they were their clients.

All of the shelters displayed at the event will be donated to caregivers who work with the NYC Feral Cat Initiative, a program of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. The Mayor’s Alliance is working to reduce the stray cat population in the city through the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) method.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to the NYC Feral Cat Initiative.

“I don’t want people to be mistaken and think that we want cats to be living on the street. We of course don’t, but if they are, and if they can’t be adopted, let’s make sure they are spayed and neutered, that they have food and medicine, water and a place to sleep, and you will find you will be happy to have them around,” said Farrell.

She says she has plans in the future for doing a similar event that would benefit dogs.

For information on how to construct your own cat shelter, visit

Photo by Amy Lieberman.

What do you think of these shelters? How would you help the stray cat population? Share your ideas below!

Comments (10)

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4 years ago

God Bless the wonderful people who thought outside the box to help homeless cats from suffering so much! And let's hope this spreads like wildfire throughout the country and the world! I grabbed a feral cat off the street many years ago and it took some time, but now she's happy and cuddly in her forever home. I should get her a crown (but she'd never wear it) because she's a little queen bee around here!

Good Point | Reply ›


4 years ago

Please do remember that our feral allies are neither accidental nor a "necessary evil." Until the advent of cat litter in the mid-20th century, strictly indoor cats were rare. For 10,000 years, these intrepid creatures have patrolled our food storage and garbage repositories for rodents who would long ago have overrun and killed us with disease. They are an exquisite blessing amidst our slovenly sprawl. Many thanks to the architects who have celebrated them with these complementary accommodations. And thanks to all who feed, neuter, and care for our cherished friends.

Good Point | Reply ›

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