Architecture for feral cats with good taste
Architects produced designs for NYC felines, ranging from teepees to brownstones to structures made of repurposed cat-food cans.
You don’t see nearly as much architecture for cats, perhaps because no matter how beautiful the cat house, your kitty is likely to prefer the box it came in.
However, cardboard boxes are not the best choice for cats who live out in the elements, so the NYC Feral Cat Initiative organized a competition to design innovative dwellings for the cats who live in the streets of New York.
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Eight dwellings by top New York architecture firms were unveiled last week at the Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter benefit. The dwellings ranged from modern homes on stilts to a Native American teepee. One house was built from 300 empty cat-food cans (photo). The simplest was a cooler with a hole cut in the side, covered with a moss to make it blend into the environment.
Architect Leslie Farrell, who created Architects for Animals and started the event three years ago, also wanted a cat house that would blend into the environment. Her Kitty High Rise is a five-story Brooklyn brownstone for felines, with perches where the fire escapes would be. It will be placed in a Washington Heights community garden, where the cats earn their keep by keeping rats away.
Building shelters for feral cats is common in places where temperatures plunge below freezing in winter.
"Cats like to find the darkest places to sleep," Kathryn Walton, who designed the cat-food-can house, told The New York Times. "They don’t want to be exposed to foot traffic or vehicular traffic. And if it’s 50 degrees or so, for sure they will be on top of the shelter."
If you’d like to try your hand at cat-shelter design, the NYC Feral Cat Initiative has links to a number of DIY cat shelters.
Endangered rabbits? That's a new one. Rabbits are such a problem in my neighborhood, anyone who plants a garden here in the summer is wasting their time unless they also install rabbit-proof fencing to protect what they plant. My neighbor has a couple of dogs who will kill whatever rabbits they can catch, but the rabbits have pretty much moved away from their yard and continue to be a problem for myself and other people here who don't have a dog. I would shoot the rabbits, however, that is totally illegal, to discharge a firearm in the city. Squirrels are a problem too and I once counted 10 squirrels having a "squirrel convention" in my yard one early summer morning. Squirrels do a lot of damage to tomato plants, stealing the tomatoes when they are still small and green, and throwing them all over the yard. I have thought of getting a couple of Guinea Hens, they kill insects and even small creatures like mice, but I was told they make so much noise, I wouldn't be able to keep them. So I would gladly welcome a cat colony to live here, to kill these stinking rabbits, squirrels and other vermin and rodents. I had a friend who kept a horse at a farm, and on the farm there were several barn cats, to keep the rodents from tearing into and contaminating all the bags of horse feed and other animal feed. So I can see where having free roaming cats around is definitely a good rather than a bad thing. I think the people who have a problem with the hunting instincts of cats are the same prima-donna type people that think anyone who hunts is some sort of gun-crazy redneck who shoots possums and eats them for dinner. Or who see a cat defecating in their yard and have a panic attack and contact the Board of Health. Get a life, people.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.