Kate Benjamin Answers the YabYum Seven

1. Who are you and what do you do?

I call myself a “Cat Style Expert” and, as far as I know, I’m the only one with that title. What that means is that I eat, sleep and breathe design and cats. I write about designer-ly cat products and I help people “Catify” their homes, adding features to keep indoor cats happy and healthy, like climbing shelves, scratchers, litter boxes, etc. Designing your home for living with cats is so important for managing cat behavior issues, but you have to do it in a way that keeps in mind both the needs of the cats and the aesthetic of the humans. There’s no need for your home to look like a Crazy Cat Lady lives there just because you have cats! Catification can be done in a way that makes both the cats and people happy.

I also design and manufacture a line of handcrafted cat products that are made right here in Arizona. I’m constantly testing new materials and new ideas with my 12 cats and I collaborate with other designers on some projects. My design studio is in Bragg’s Pie Factory on Grand Avenue.

2. How did you get your start?

In 2007, I was working as the Director of Marketing at a company that made modern children’s products (Boon Inc), when I realized that the cat product industry — like the children’s product industry was already doing — needed to offer something that was a little more suited to those of us who appreciate modern design. There were a handful of companies and product designers at the time experimenting with new concepts for cat products, so I gathered my findings and started a blog, Moderncat.net. A couple of years later, the blog had become so popular that I was able to quit my job and work on it full time. That is when I started designing my own products and last year I launched the Hauspanther brand.

3. What inspires you?

My cats are my inspiration. All of them are rescues, many of which came right off the streets in downtown Phoenix, and I consider them my family. Because I have a lot of cats, I have tons of opportunities to test new ideas with them. I added a Catio, an enclosed patio for cats, to my condo so they have a safe place to hangout where they can get some fresh air. I’m constantly adding new features to my home just for the cats. I love seeing them napping comfortably on a new cat bed, or perching up high on a cat shelf. I think they are beautiful and every one of them deserves to be in a loving home. Unfortunately, we have such a huge pet overpopulation problem here in the US, so many cats are killed in shelters every day or set out on the streets to fend for themselves. My goal with my business is to use design to help keep more cats in safe, happy homes and to help reduce those numbers of unwanted cats. If I can show someone how to design their home to help alleviate any cat issues they are having (like inappropriate scratching, not using the litter box, fighting, etc.) then I’ve removed any excuse they might have for getting rid of the cat.

4. What do you like about AZ?

I love the small business community and the arts scene in downtown Phoenix. It’s awesome being a part of the community and being on Grand Avenue. There’s so much happening right now, lots of people doing incredibly creative things, and so many of them are truly breaking the mold, really doing their own thing. It’s inspirational to see what people are doing and I love supporting other local businesses and artists.

5. Where can we see you(r) work?

You can see my cat-related design finds as well as my own product line at hauspanther.com. Our products are available locally at Noble Beast Market for Pets on Camelback, MADE Art Boutique in Roosevelt Row, the Arizona Humane Society Petique at the Biltmore, and at Dreamy Draw Cat Hospital.

I also make guess appearances on Jackson Galaxy’s reality TV show “My Cat From Hell” on Animal Planet. Jackson and I are the “Catification Team”. On the show we Catify homes to help with cat behavior issues. Sometimes we deal with some really tough cases! We just co-authored a book titled “Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home For Your Cat (and You!)” to be published this fall by Tarcher (a division of Penguin/Random House). The book is full of our Catification design tips and inspiration for designing a cat-friendly home.

6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I want to save all the cats! But that’s a pretty big challenge. I will do what I can to help as many cats as possible, because I feel that our relationships with these creatures truly enrich our lives.

7. What is your mantra?

“Saving just one animal won’t change the world, but it surely will change the world for that one animal.”


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