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Queens Kids Build Purrfect Mini-City for Kittens Up for Adoption

By Jeanmarie Evelly | May 14, 2013 7:21am | Updated on May 14, 2013 12:53pm
 Flux Factory is launching "Kitty City," an urban planning project and pet adoption event.
Queens Kids and Artists Design a "Kitty City"
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LONG ISLAND CITY — This city is the cat's meow.

A group of Queens kids is getting an adorable lesson in urban planning this month, joining architects and artists to design and construct a small-scale metropolis for kitties that are up for adoption — complete with hammocks and maybe even a milk waterfall.

The "Kitty City" exhibit at Long Island City arts collective Flux Factory will culminate June 1 with a ribbon-cutting and cat adoption event with For Animals, a no-kill animal shelter in South Ozone Park, which will bring 30 adoptable kittens to be Kitty City's first residents. 

"It will be the most adorable moment in contemporary art," said Flux Factory executive director Christina Vassallo. 

During workshops every weekend in May, the group will work through the design for their "meowtropolis" — planning transportation, water and sanitation systems, public parks, housing, food sources, and cultural resources.

"We'll need to have roads or paths. We'll have buildings, food stores, play spaces for the cats,"  said Douglas Paulson, an artist and educator who's leading the Kitty City project.

The kids' ideas so far include lots of elevated pathways for the cats to walk on and hammocks for them to lounge in.

"They were really keen to make a milk waterfall," he laughed. 

"The kids are really enjoying getting into the psychology of cats," Vassallo added. "It's all about teaching empathy in how we make a city. What does quality of life look like for a cat? How high should the buildings be?"

The project is designed for children to learn about civic engagement, the complexities of urban planning and how different groups need to work together to make a city functional and livable, according to Paulson.

"One of our missions...is to combine the different strengths of kids and adults and develop a shared vocabulary around the way we think about the city, and urban space and civic engagement," he said.

After the final design plans are approved by Kitty City's committees and review boards, the group will start constructing it, mostly from recycled supplies and materials, at Flux Factory's headquarters at 39-31 29th St.

Kitty City will be open to visitors during the adoption event on June 1, but those who want to see it  in-the-making can schedule an appointment with Flux Factory staff during weekends in May, according to Vassallo — who said her own pet might lend a hand after the project is over.

"I have a dog," she said. "He's going to be part of the wrecking crew."