Montclair State Students Create Purr-fect Place for Homeless Cats

Industrial design students create new living space for cats at the Montclair Animal Shelter.

Photo: Mike Peters

Montclair State industrial design students (left to right) Erik Pavon, Anthony Perpepaj, Jillian Kearney, and Kevin Frank pause during their work at the Montclair Animal Shelter.

Thanks to an anonymous donation; the generosity of two local businesses; the involvement of two Montclair State faculty members, and the talent, time, and effort of five Montclair State University industrial design students; the Montclair Animal Shelter will soon have a colorful, functional, and innovative new living space for cats. Designed, constructed, and installed by the students, the new space is expected to be ready to welcome its first “guests” by mid-August 2009.

The students involved in the project are Jillian Kearney of Little Falls, design leader; Anthony Perpepaj of Bogota; Kevin Frank of Paramus; Erik Pavon of Dumont; and Andrew Zheng of South River. All were students in an industrial design class taught by Professor Denis Feigler, director of the industrial design program and the originator of the project.

“It is part of my teaching philosophy to bring real-life learning experiences to the class,” says Feigler, who first approached the township with the idea for the project, and serves as advisor to the students on design, technical, fabrication, and installation matters, and as coordinator between the University and the township.

The management of all the materials, outsourcing, fabrication logistics, and project timing is being handled by Professor Winfield Parsons, also of the industrial design program. His business, Parsons Cabinetry Inc. has additionally donated materials, time, resources, and the use of its facilities to the project.

Together with Parsons Cabinetry, the contributions of the Jack Finn General Contracting Company and an $8,000 donation from an anonymous Montclair resident have made the project a reality. The students have volunteered their time over the summer to completely refurbish the two “cat rooms” at the shelter, and to design and build all the components for the room at the newly-renovated industrial design studio on campus.

Once the work is completed, the shelter, located at the corner of North Willow and Walnut Streets, will once again be able to provide a much-needed refuge for the area’s homeless cats.

“These two cat rooms are only the first phase of this project,” says Feigler. “The second phase—that we already have concept designs for—is the dog run, and possibly we will be commissioned to design and build the outside play area as the third phase. All this of course will depend on generous funding.”

View more photos of the project.