Los Angeles’ top architects have designed playful shelters to raise money for the city’s stray cat population.
A set of wooden planes lined with grass and threaded with enticing bright red strings. A lightweight, portable hideout that comes in the shape of a colorful, 3D-printed cone. And a fishbowl cocoon just perfect for napping.
All to raise money for the Los Angeles-based nonprofit FixNation, which provides spay and neutering services for feral and homeless cats, some of the city’s top architectural firms showcased their very best ideas for luxurious cat shelters. There are 12 shelters in total, all of which were put up on display earlier this month at a sold-out fundraising event hosted by the Architects for Animals initiative. From a kitty playground to a napping pod modeled after a lunar spaceship (and equipped with built-in feeding bowls and astro-mice toys), they’re all intriguing for both cats and humans.
But they’re not just notable for their neat, whimsical designs. The shelters also follow a fundamental principle in architecture: that form should always follow function. For example, the “Catcube” was designed by Standard Architecture to keep cats at just the perfect, comfortable temperature. The concrete gathers heat during the day to keep the animals warm later on at night, and its movable wooden flaps allow breeze to flow through.
Leslie Farrell, who heads Architects for Animals, says she gave the firms very loose guidelines: it should be portable, can hold up to two or three cats, and it should also be playful.
“I want them to use their creativity because part of this is to raise awareness,” she tells CityLab. “When you ask the architectural community—these very cool, talented people—it helps change the perception of these suffering animals. If this group is willing to help, then [people] will think, ‘Oh, I can help, too.’“
(She adds that the event was so popular that the tabby who modeled all the photos was recently adopted.)
Architects for Animals raises money for shelters and nonprofits across the entire country. And feral cat populations are a very big problem for many cities. L.A. is home to somewhere between 1 and 3 million stray and feral cats. Locals have employed the “meaner” ones to catch rodents and turned others into companions for coffee lovers.
The innovative shelters from Architects for Animals’ latest effort may not be enough for all of the city’s kitties, but a lucky few might get to enjoy them, as some are expected to be up for auction very soon.