By Barron Schimberg, AIA LEED AP
With every new project, I enjoy the process of learning new things. For example, before we started converting a 7,000 square foot warehouse into The Cat Depot feline adoption center, we did extensive research into animal behavior, shelter medicine, and veterinary ethics. Our design needed to support all aspects of The Cat Depot’s mission of improving the lives of homeless cats by helping them find loving homes.
Cat Depot in Sarasota, Flordia
We learned that the right design could result in well-mannered pets, more comfortable and educated owners, and a facility that was easier to operate and maintain.
In the course of our research into animal-shelter design, we discovered some difficult questions that needed be addressed. Should the design reflect a safe haven for the animals to live their lives out if necessary? Or should the animal shelter be designed for more temporary living arrangements, while the facility’s operators encourage community residents to adopt more animals?
Because The Cat Depot focuses on finding loving homes for cats and kittens, we designed an environment that makes it easier for the public to interact with the cats before deciding which one(s) to adopt and take home. Research shows that people prefer adopting cats that appear to be more social.
Some of the most popular design features are the 10 x 15-ft cat runs (“pods”) that we added to the east side of the building. The cats can wander freely outside into these enclosed outdoor “cat-ios” to enjoy sunlight and fresh air.
Yet we also wanted to preserve the industrial look and feel of the building. Not only is the simple interior easier to maintain, but visitors also quickly recognize that the shelter is not a replacement for a home-like environment.
We also worked with Spec-Rite Designs to create durable pet condos and indoor play crates. Each condo and pet crate was custom-designed for the space requirements and preferred colors. Spec-Rite then manufactured the furniture using non-porous, phenolic materials that resist water and scratching, inhibit bacteria growth, and don’t absorb odors.
The Cat Depot’s new facility opened at the end of 2009. It has become a hub of rescue activity and education for cat lovers. In 2011, Cat Depot spayed and neutered 1400 cats and kittens, found loving homes for 893 cats and kittens, and engaged more than 2,400 school-children in cat-related activities.
You can take a virtual tour of the Cat Depot on the Cat Depot website. The Schimberg Group’s work on the facility was described in more detail in SRQ magazine and Maddux Business Report. PDFs of these two articles can be viewed through the links below.
Cat Depot Surgical Room
If your company or organization has an animal-shelter-related project on the horizon, give us a call at 941-894-6888 . We learned many valuable lessons during our work on the Cat Depot, and I would be happy to share some of these insights with you or your group.
About the Cat Depot of Sarasota, Florida
Virtual Tour of Cat Depot
SRQ Magazine: Feline Fortress
Maddux Business Report: Purr Green
We Custom Design Durable Furnishings with Style