IMAGINE LIVING in a concrete box. The walls are covered with cold tiles and there are bars on the only window. It would not make for a happy home and you would probably spend most of your time sulking miserably in the corner. This is what it used to be like for cats at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Wan Chai - until Jill Cheshire came along. Ms Cheshire has always loved animals. She looks after two cats, six dogs and four hamsters, and would look after more if time and space permitted. An architect by training, she came to Hong Kong 10 years ago and within a year had set up her own practice. She has worked on multi-million dollar projects for high-profile clients, but her real passion is designing living spaces for animals. 'I read an article in the SPCA magazine Paw Print saying that they planned to re-do their Kowloon centre and were asking for people to help,' says Ms Cheshire. Her love of animals, combined with her architectural know-how, made her the ideal person to help, and what started out as a small, one-off job soon escalated into a considerable chunk of her working life. She is now retained by the SPCA as a consultant. 'Cats are naturally curious creatures. They like to know what is going on around them,' she says. So she designed a cattery that would appeal to cats - and humans. The Wan Chai cattery, which was completed in August 2000, has 15 compartments and a giant playroom. Each compartment offers a cat five changes of level. And by using tempered glass, the cats' visibility is further increased. The playroom gives the cats space to run around in and is even fitted with a television because, Ms Cheshire says, cats love to watch the box. The new set-up increases a cat's chances of finding a new home. Happy to be able to see what is happening around them, the cats are less anxious and thus more appealing to the people who come looking to adopt a pet. The bold use of colour in the design is not for the cats - cats and dogs only see in black and white. The colour is used to appeal to people. 'The adoption rate has increased significantly for cats. People are more relaxed when they come, because the place is brighter and there are no bars. The cats are not as anxious and project a better image,' Ms Cheshire says. The cattery she designed for the Kowloon centre is mobile and each compartment can be opened on to its neighbouring one. She has also designed a dog kennel at the Kowloon centre and turned her hand to homes for rabbits, hamsters and chinchillas. For each home, Ms Cheshire thinks about the habits and requirements of each animal. Hamsters are solitary creatures and do not put themselves forward for adoption easily, so she designed 'Hamster Heights', based on a Hong Kong apartment block. For the hamsters, there are changes in levels and an exercise circuit they can let loose on, and they can see their neighbours. The city view backdrop is purely to appeal to people.