Kate Benjamin thinks good design can change the world for cats and those who love them, reports Jennifer A. Kingson in The New York Times (12/23/13). The epiphany happened for Kate while she was working for Boon, which sells "modern baby products." "We were pioneering this idea of, just because you have kids, you don’t have to have ugly stuff in your living room," says Kate. "I loved the concept, but I kept saying, ‘Well, my kids have fur.’ And nobody’s doing this in the pet product business." Kate actually has 11 ‘kids’ – cats — who live with her in a 1,100 square-foot condo.
Kate started blogging about her favorite cat accouterments in 2007, which attracted visitors and advertisers to a point where she quit her job at Boon "and opened a design studio where she and her employees could create cat toys and accessories to sell on her website, originally called Moderncat but now re-branded as Hauspanther. The site gets about 150,000 page views per month. Kate thinks the popularity of online cat videos help build demand, and that the trend toward "waiting longer to have children" helps too. "Their pets become their children," she says.
However, Kate says her cause transcends mere pampering. "I would like to see every cat in a happy, loving, forever home, and I want to keep them there through design," she says. "Because if somebody doesn’t want to buy a scratcher because the scratchers are so ugly, and then the cat scratches on the sofa, the cat’s booted onto the street or taken to the shelter. If a product design can help change that, that’s where I want to see this go." Some balk at the prices — $400 cat beds, for instance. But Kate says people can always build for themselves what they find on her site. "I’m not saying you have to buy it," says Kate. "Just please be inspired by it."