On December 6th, 2011, the Steelcase Showroom hosted the second annual Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter design exhibit to benefit the New York City Feral Cat Initiative. Open to the public, this event brought awareness to the needs of homeless, stray, and outdoor cats during the winter months.
Co Adaptive Architecture, in collaboration with designer Kathryn Walton, founder of The American Street Cat, Inc., designed what was voted the winning shelter that night. Not only does it provide warmth and comfort to cats, but also serves as a data monitoring device.
Most of the elements selected to construct the shelter were either recycled or donated. Equipped with a pressure sensor, LED light, and radio transmitter, the shelter not only lights up when occupied, but also sends information to a base station. The weight of the cat and the duration of its stay is posted to the web in real time. Both the light and the data feedback allow for remote verification of occupancy without having to disturb the cat. Since one base station can support hundreds of shelters within a one mile radius, multiple shelters located within multiple cat colonies can provide useful data for caretakers and certified TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) workers.
With over 10,000 homeless, stray, and outdoor cats in New York City alone, this collaboration revealed the exciting potential for combining technological advances with traditional methods of TNR practices. As additional features to this shelter design are explored and developed, the shelter can ultimately be utilized to expedite efforts to minimize the overpopulation problem.