Monday, January 9, 2012

Gimme [Stylish] Shelter

I did a little research to follow up on the intriguing “Cat Meowtel” arrow that pointed me to a delightful tidbit in yesterday’s New York Times magazine.

My new Number 1 Cat Lady in New York City is architect Kathryn Walton, founder of a nonprofit named The American Street Cat, Inc. She partnered recently with the Co Adaptive Architecture firm and won a competition among New York–area architects to create a winter home for stray cats. Very sadly, there are more than 10,000 strays that roam the streets of Manhattan.

The idea is an inspired one, and it’s gratifying to know that architects who often look to the sky to admire their achievements were content to keep their noses to the ground—all to protect and preserve the lives of cats needing shelter. The operative words for the competing architects were to build a shelter that was “warm, weatherproof, portable, and safe.”

What is especially neat about the winning design is its data-monitoring device. The shelter is constructed of recycled and donated materials (a 20-pound plastic tub filled with denim and moss) and comes equipped with a pressure sensor, an LED light, and a radio transmitter that lights up upon the entrance of a cat. A base station in the neighborhood receives information on the weight of the cat and the duration of his or her stay, then posts this information in real time on the Internet.

Back in the day when Cat Man and I were rescuing our now resident cats, we relied on our own harebrained schemes that somehow worked. If only we had had the knowledge, style, and high-tech savvy of Ms. Walton and her cat-loving comrades in the architecture and design fields.

Query of the Day: Even if Donald Trump is still considering a presidential bid, wouldn’t he make an even bigger impact building “cat meowtels” in every borough of the Big Apple?

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