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The Toronto Humane Society’s Cats Have a New Rooftop Playground

A new rooftop garden at the Toronto Humane Society will give both humans and animals a much-needed place to hang out.

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Animal shelters are important, but they’re also usually at capacity. Thankfully for Toronto’s ownerless pets, the Toronto Humane Society now has a little extra green space for them to enjoy.

Today, Evergreen and Purina—the former an environmental charity and the latter a pet-food maker—launched a new rooftop haven for cats at the Toronto Humane Society’s building on River Street. The space, previously an open stretch of concrete with no shade, now features native plants, rest areas, and edibles designed to be safe for pets. As part of the fourth year of its Paws for the Planet initiative, Purina donated $50,000 to Evergreen in order to provide green spaces at five different animal shelters across Canada, this being one.

“Evergreen worked with the Humane Society to see what they wanted for their facilities,” said Ashley Emmett, a manager at Purina, “and the plan was developed from there.”

The new space at the Toronto Humane Society includes container vegetable gardens, which will grow food for shelter animals like rabbits and guinea pigs; catnip and cat grasses for the resident felines; and native trees and shrubs, which will provide shaded areas on the balcony for both the animals and the shelter volunteers.

“One of the main issues here was providing some shade and some shelter for the volunteers to use the space—to bring animals up here, to use the space for other purposes, or just to make the space available,” said Evergreen project manager JR Leo, who did the design.

The courtyard-like area features 14-foot-tall walls, which provide a unique opportunity for the volunteers to give cats some safe outdoor time. “It’s a space where they’ll be able to take the cats outside, where they normally wouldn’t be able to be,” Emmett said. “That’s what’s fantastic about this space in particular.”

“What this is is a culmination of all the Evergreen principles into a rooftop patio,” Leo said. It’s a space that incorporates native plants, improves the local economy—includes a food program—and optimizes an urban space by greening it.

If you’re jealous of the animals’ new digs, you can enter Purina’s contest to win $5,000 for your own backyard makeover. As a bonus, each entry means another $5 for Evergreen’s stewardship and restoration program, up to $50,000.

Photos by Terri Coles/Torontoist.

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