Local architects build high-end shelters for feral cats

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - There are thousands of feral cats in D.C., and winters like this one can be deadly for them. So cat lovers are trying to help, making do-it-yourself cat shelters.

Danielle Bays makes these shelters in her Northeast neighborhood, and says they aren’t very fancy. But just a few doors down, cats live it up in a shelter worthy of a queen – complete with windows and a way to catch rainwater for drinking.

It's one of a number designed by local architects, and the styles range from modern art to Native American to space age -- all designed to keep out the cold.

But these aren't just about keeping cats warm -- they're also about keeping the numbers down.

"We actually trap the cats,” says ChristieLyn Diller with the Humane Society. According to Diller, cats attracted by the new shelters will be brought to the Humane Society's spay and neuter center before being released.

"We also vaccinate them and they're good to go and they're not going to keep having kittens and kittens year after year," she says.

"We included some polycarbon panels," describes architect Brian Forehand, who helped design one of the shelters. He had a personal reason to do it:

"My own cat was actually a feral cat that was struck by a car that I wound up rehabilitating and taking in."

He's hoping this encourages others to help:

"These shelters can actually be quite attractive, they can actually be cool."

Architect Victoria Kulbick says designing a home for cats rather than people wasn't always easy, but seeing the cats use it makes her glad she did.

"It was pretty cool to know this is actually doing something good," she says.

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