The ultimate cat tree
Animal shelters are usually tucked away in run down or hard to find parts of town. But not Angles for Animals. The nonprofit’s 3.5 million dollar facility, constructed with white split face block and blue metal roofing, sits on busy Route 165 in Canfield, Ohio.
“There are no curves on the highway for miles and miles, except for where our building is,” explains shelter co-founder Diane Less Baird. “So I wanted something on that curve that people would be driving towards and hit them right in the face.”
That something is a 24 foot high, $100,000 dollar cat tree motorists can see through the building’s floor-to-ceiling windows
The enormous sculpture – dubbed The Tree of Marie, after financial donor Marie Stillings – has helped draw a steady stream of curious folks into the shelter since its completion seven years ago.
That’s no surprise, though, given that the cat tree might be the country’s tallest.
“There aren’t a lot of tourist attractions out here so Angles for Animals has become a destination,” explains Less Baird. “Families especially like to come out on the weekends and interact with the dogs and cats.”
The busy shelter handles 8,000 animals annually — more than all the pounds and shelters in three surrounding counties combined, she says.
From start to finish the Tree of Marie took 15 months to build, with each of its 36 branches lifted into place by crane then hand-welded onto the trunk. At the branches’ ends are resting pods, covered in green artificial turf, giving the illusion of foliage.
Lighted aluminum steps rise up from the trunk’s bottom, making it easier to get into the tree for both the cats and staff during their weekly cleaning sessions.
The ultimate climbing structure provides hours of entertainment for the 30 or so adoptable kitties living in the room. On any given day, Less Baird says at least half of the cats are in the tree, hanging out on the higher pods in the winter for warmth, and staying lower during the summer to keep cool.
To complete the outdoor themed room (just one of four cat rooms at the shelter) Less Baird – an artist for more than 40 years — painted the ceiling sky blue with fluffy cat shaped clouds.
“Our tree room provides a great environment for our cats and draws many visitors to our shelter,” she says. “Marie’s tree provides us with the chance to get our message to more people.”