a cat stretching atop an angular enclosure
Knowhow Shop: "In the year since the Cat Exploration Program was initiated with the successful launch of the Lunar Cat Lander (to much fanfare and general purrs of contentment), the terrain has changed drastically." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography

If you were drawing a Venn diagram, you likely wouldn’t have “community cat shelter” and “iconic modernist design” overlap. Yet last October, the Herman Miller Showroom in Culver City, California—namesake of Herman Miller, the furniture manufacturer credited with instantly recognizable designs like the Eames lounge chair—showcased cat shelters designed, built and donated by local architects and designers.

The imaginative (and functional) designs are a product of Architects for Animals’ annual “Giving Shelter” event benefiting FixNation, an L.A.-based nonprofit that provides free spay/neuter services for the city's free-roaming felines. In other major cities, annual Architects for Animals events benefit D.C.'s Humane Rescue Alliance and the NYC Feral Cat Initiative, with past designs incorporating fish bowls and insulated cat food cans.

a cat posing next to a sculpture composed of multiple white tubes
"White Jack" by Abramson Teiger Architects: "The form allows the cat to climb through it like a habitat ... [it's] like a piece of interactive art where the cat becomes part of the art." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography
a cat examining a spherical enclosure made of twine
"Ball of Twine" by Abramson Teiger Architects: "The Ball of Twine was a play on scale, as normally the cat is much larger than the twine ... In this design, there still is some free twine to play with and the cat is inside the ball." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography

"We bring in some of the largest architecture firms, and they donate their time and talent, and they actually design and build a small winter shelter for an animal that's found itself living on the streets," Architects for Animals founder Leslie Farrell told All For Animals TV. "They're very cool, they're architectural, but we also wanted to raise awareness for people in the city and elsewhere that these animals exist and they need help."

With titles fit for The Louvre, like “White Jack,” “CAnT WE ALL GET ALONG” and “Ball of Twine,” scroll down to see the most recent works of art and to read a few words from the designers.

a cat peering out of a pyramid like structure lined with colored walls
CallisonRTKL: "Our cat structure was inspired by the safe havens of a cathedral. Our modern interpretation showcases contemporary geometric patterns and stained-glass windows." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography
a structure made from HVAC ducts and other materials
d3architecture: "[We] designed a cat shelter reflecting the environment and personalities of feral cats, using materials found on the streets and in the alleys (discarded HVAC equipment) creating a wild array of tunnels and passageways." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography
a cat sitting atop an orange geometric structure
"Meow Miaow" by ES-EN-EM: "Both pragmatic and poetic, Meow-Miaow is an origami-inspired cat shelter made for indoor and outdoor use that provides a comforting, private and protective space for one or multiple cats." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography
a cat sits atop a spherical structure covered with moss and grass
Flora-Gato by Formation Association, Terremoto Landscape and Arktura: "Flora-Gato is a biomorphic trellis providing shelter to cats and informal seating to human volunteers serving the feral cat population." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography
a multi tiered wooden structure whose bottom is shaped like a fish tail and topped by bird houses
"CAnT WE ALL GET ALONG" by HKS: "Sunlight filters through the slats of my den, Birds chirping just beyond in their pen, I could lunge, I could expunge, Instead I will laze, within this fish-house in a daze." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography
a structure comprised of large insulated tubes
HOK: "This seven-chambered kitty shelter is uniquely shaped and provides both protection from the elements as well as a cozy home for multiple kitties." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography
a wooden structure housed inside blue slats that form the letter W
"Cat’s Win! Cat’s Win!" by Kollin Altomare Architects: "Our active and stimulating "shelter" was influenced by studying the normal interior environments that domestic cats prefer." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography
a cat sits inside a spiraling structure
"UnFURled" by Perkins + Will: "UnFURled is cat architecture designed to balance adaptability and graphic form. Built as an interchangeable and interacting kit-of-parts, the structure is scalable, malleable and fun for you and your cat." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography
an open canopy sits atop wooden slats and a fuzzy rug
RNL now Stantec: "The sculptural platform with soft faux fur offers different areas for rest and sleep. A single red thread weaves a combination of abstract triangular shapes into a shelter." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography
a cat leans out of a spherical structure whose middle is open and fitted with wooden slats
"Catosphere" by Standard Architecture | Design: "The Catosphere is a concrete and wood pod ... fitted with a cat bed. The louvered wood walls can be open or closed depending on the weather." Photo by Meghan Bob Photography

About the Author

Photo of Bethany W. Adams

Bethany W. Adams writes and edits for HumanePro, humanesociety.org and All Animals magazine. She has a particular passion for stopping puppy mills, improving the lives of farm animals and protecting wildlife and is a Certified Maryland Master Naturalist who volunteers frequently for environmental causes. Her award-winning stories include "When animal rescue isn't" and "Hope in the heartland." She lives in Frederick, Maryland, with her husband, son, cat, two rescue dogs and six spoiled chickens.


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