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Architects Create Avant-Garde Shelters for Feral Cats

By Emily Frost | January 31, 2014 8:43am
 Architecture firms created inventive cat shelters for feral cats suffering through a cold winter. 
Modern Cat Shelters
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Forget Bauhaus, this is Cat Haus.

Feral cats uptown will soon get purrfectly designed cat shelters by New York City architects, including a three-story, asymmetrical model painted gray and bright orange.

"We decided to make it whimsical," architect Leslie Farrell said about the Bauhaus-inspired structure she made with the design firm Francis Cauffman. Farrell is the founder of the nonprofit Architects for Animals, which aims to humanely reduce the feral cat population.

Designers showed off their structures, each large enough for a cat or two, at an event Thursday. The shelters will be placed in areas with known stray cat populations, the makers said.

In New York City, after a cat is neutered or spayed, it is released back to where it came from. But in brutal winter weather, a shelter is important for its survival, organizers said.

Farrell founded Architects for Animals four years ago to bring her colleagues together to help animals. The organization works to support the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, which traps, neuters and spays, and releases feral cats across the city — a population the group puts at half a million to 1 million. The Mayor's Alliance is a privately funded nonprofit that's been working with rescue groups since 2003. 

Farrell said her goal in designing a cat shelter was to make the structure practical and easy to emulate. 

Others had more grandiose visions. David Sepulveda of Two One Two Design created a design for cats with an eye toward the cutting-edge.

Ely Valipay said she cares for 15 cats she's rescued. She and her partner Haleh Atabaki designed a shelter that could blend in with her backyard — it's designed to look like a boulder. 

A spokesman for the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals emphasized that a shelter need not have such superb design elements to succeed. A simple box made with insulation would serve cats well too, he said.