Gimme Shelter – NYC’s Third Annual Architects for Animals Giving Shelter Fundraiser and Benefit Inspires Hope for Nationwide Outdoor Cats
Ironically, it was a year ago that I began blogging about feral cats when I became involved in trying to save the small colony of outdoor cats residing on the once pet-friendly Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando. They were part of a very successful and managed Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for over twelve years, but due to unyielding management mandates, they were eventually trapped and removed from the premises for relocation, despite the massive outpouring of concern from citizens and cat advocacy groups to keep them on the property.
While it may seem like a loss on the surface, in the long run it was a victory for feral cats. The visibility of the story brought the misconceptions of feral cats to a broader audience and it has become much more commonplace to see groups advocating to help these animals. One such enterprise is the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals which is holding its Third Annual Architects for Animals Giving Shelter fundraiser and benefit.
Being held on Thursday, January 10, from 6:00–8:00 pm at the Steelcase Showroom, 4 Columbus Circle, New York, NY, I heard about this event from Tamar Arslanian of the popular blog I Have Cat who wanted this story to be shared with a wider audience, so she contacted some of her fellow bloggers such as myself, Janiss Garza of Sparkle, and Christine Michaels of Riverfront Cats to spread the word. We all share the same compassionate and logical wish for these cats – that if they have to live on the streets and within communities, that they are allowed to do so with dignity and with proper food, shelter, and medical attention as managed through proper TNR programs.
Gathering an impressive team of New York architectural giants, the event will feature a mind boggling display of innovative, functional, and artistically beautiful animal shelters and attendees will be able to vote on their favorites. At the end of the evening, the shelters will be donated to community cat caretakers around the city. Admission to the event is a $20 donation and if you cannot attend but would still like to donate to the cause, please click here for details. To follow are some of the shelters that were part of the events in 2010 and 2011 – quite incredible to say the least!
While this is certainly an impressive initiative and I wish that all communities could rally for such a creative endeavor, for most of us in the cat caring world, these works of art are but an elusive dream. It would be wonderful if communities could work together in tangent with rescue groups to coordinate shelter building projects and invite high schools, colleges, and other public operatives to help build these houses and to raise funding and community awareness on the plight of feral cats and cat overpopulation in general. Perhaps sponsoring contests between cat advocates, rescue organizations, artists, students, community members, and architects to design cat shelters in local communities would be a great way to to both educate people and safely and humanely manage cat populations. How wonderful if something like this could catch on nationwide as we start the New Year!
The problem is, we still have a long road ahead of us educating people that outdoor cats are not a dangerous menace to society. Not everyone will embrace the thought of sheltering cats, especially with beautifully built structures that are subject to theft and vandalism. Despite that, I applaud the example New York City is setting and I hope this benefit will bring more attention to the forefront to other communities as to how important TNR programs are to effectively managing feral cat colonies by reducing their numbers over time.
But, even without these beautiful works of arts, there are many types of shelters available for outdoor cats if you want to help cats in your own community – from inexpensive homes that can be made from large Rubbermaid bins (click here for easy to assemble directions), to ready-made shelters that can be purchased. Alley Cat Allies has a fantastic list of sources available, all with practicality in mind. The bottom line is, we just want these cats to feel safe and to be protected from the harsh elements and predators.
We thank all the participating architects at this year’s Third Annual Architects for Animals – Third H3 Hardy Collaborative Architecture; Francis Cauffman Architects; M Moser Associates; Callison Barteluce; Stonehill & Taylor Architects, with a team of students from City College; Zimmerman Workshop; Kathryn Walton of The American Street Cat (TASC); and Pilot Projects Design Collective and hope the fundraiser is a huge success that will be used as a positive example nationwide as to how communities can successfully embrace outdoor cat populations with grace, beauty, and dignity. For more information, or to register to attend, please click here.