Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Michael Kahwaji

Second Advisor

Alfredo Carreno


My thesis project is Leo: a carrier to help increase disaster evacuation compliance among cat owners. It’s focused on creating a product that helps increase disaster evacuation compliance among cat owners. There’s an increase in the severity and frequency of natural disasters and being able to evacuate ahead of time saves lives and resources. However, 20-30% of people choose not to evacuate because they don’t want to leave their pet behind. Cats are of particular interest because they are sensitive to environmental stress and need to be contained. The main reasons cat owners fail to evacuate with their cat is because they don’t have a carrier or they can’t catch (and transport) them.

The research completed to discover the underlying problems included literary reviews (topics included learning about natural disasters and situations that recommend an evacuation; what’s needed for an evacuation; getting cats into carriers; and psychology behind training cats), qualitative interviews, observations, and competitive product and analogous project benchmarking. This was analyzed through a task analysis, competitive landscape matrix, journey map, and insight clustering to create four design principles that measure the success of my design. The design should provide quick and safe transport, provide comfort and security that encourages positive interactions, help prepare cat owners to evacuate, and minimize stress to help prevent post-disaster distress.

A brainstorming matrix helped generate ideas and sketches based on each design principle at each stage of the evacuation journey map. These ideas were clustered into architecture and detail-focused themes. Feedback from cat owners determined that the final design should be a carrier that’s more easily integrated into the home with consideration for storage of evacuation items. Ideally, this product would also be transferable to other situations such as taking the cat to the vet. Full-scale working prototypes were built and tested in tandem with qualitative interviews and observations to understand the product’s interaction with cats and their owners. To help gauge the viability of each concept, insight clustering while stack ranking against design principles was utilized. The outcome determined that the “Mobile Home” concept had the most balanced blend of home integration with a carrier, but needed some further consideration for storage and usability.

The final design included a double-door system to lure cats inside and an additional, removable bed to transfer them from anywhere in the home to the carrier more easily. A faux wood top can be lifted off to reveal a small storage compartment for evacuation items including bowls, collars, tags, treats, toys, vet records, pet identification and a GPS tracker. Attached to the underside of the lid is an evacuation checklist to help owners not forget anything. The display at the RIDI Talent Celebration included my process book, original working “Mobile Home” prototype, a 3D printed 3/8th scale model (painted to mimic the final color, material and finish) and a poster that highlighted my process and key elements to my design.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Lorino Reflection.pdf (58 kB)