Bishop Strachan students create cat shelters

Homes built by Grade 7 class for Toronto’s feral felines

FOR HOMELESS CATS: Bishop Strachan School’s Grade 7 class built cat shelters to be used by the Toronto Feral Cat Coalition.

Toronto’s feral cats have Bishop Strachan School’s Grade 7 to thank for some new homes.

Four teachers from the Forest Hill school came up with the idea to have their students construct cat shelters from scratch, using plywood, foam insulation, oak and mylar. The school’s facilities team, design technology teachers and IT also contributed.

One of those teachers involved, right from the beginning in November, was Taeko Knockaert, who lauded her charges’ excitement with the project.

“I really like the fact the students got the chance to work with people they don’t usually work with, like the maintenance staff and they were getting to know them and their skills,” Knockaert said, in a January phone interview.

Twenty students used problem-solving skills and science acumen to navigate some of the obstacles such as what was the best material for insulating the inside of the unit, which will be used by the Toronto Feral Cat TNR Coalition.

A few of the girls were familiar with the issue of feral cats, Knockaert said, but now the entire class is interested in the plight of thousands of strays reported to inhabit the city.

“I wanted them to do something that was meaningful and useful to them — something that would serve beyond the due date of the project,” Knockaert added.

From November to December the students went to work. They designed their own shelters in groups, based on the requirements specified by the Toronto Feral Cat TNR Coalition. There was even a waiting line for the power drill.

There were some delays, but as in any construction project, there were bound to be a couple of issues.

“They thought it was a fairly straight-forward process but when it came to actually putting it all together, and an actual shelter, they came across so many problems,” she said. “It was great to see them solve those problems together.”

The finished shelters were taken to the Toronto Humane Society for the Feral Cat Coalition to pick up.

Knockaert said she is hoping her students will get a chance to see their work being enjoyed by their new-found feline friends.

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