Note from the Editor: We discovered Kate Benjamin when we were researching Katris furniture. As the First Lady of Cats and Style, Kate had wonderful photos of this intriguing functional design line for cats. We discovered she had a lot more, too, and we became even more intrigued by how amazing she is. Kate graciously agreed to share with us about how she became the Cat Style Expert she is through a virtual interview. Read on for inspiration….
Do you see yourself as primarily a cat lover? Or as an artist first? A designer? A writer? A blogger?
I think I consider myself primarily an entrepreneur who has found a niche writing about my two passions: cats and design. I do also have a background as a designer and I get to use those skills all the time as I design new products and graphics for my business. Communications and public relations are also a big part of what I do.
What top traits are you looking for in design? Lines? Eco-friendly sustainable design? Fun factor?
When I say “good design” it means several things. First, does the design function well, is it something that the cat is able to use? Is it something that is appealing to the cat? Does it satisfy the cat’s natural instincts? Also, is it easy for the cat guardian to use, for example is it easy to clean? Is the handle of the toy comfortable to grip? And finally, I consider the aesthetics, is this something I would like to have in my home and look at every day? Does this fit with my style? Is this something I’d be happy to have visitors see, or do I feel I need to hide it away?
Are you still doing the give-aways? When might the next one be?
Hauspanther launches a new giveaway every single Monday. Just visit our Giveaway page to enter to win!
As a growing celebrity brand, how do you deal with inevitable detractors and “catty” remarks?
I’ve learned to let nasty comments roll off my back. You have to learn to differentiate between the people who have authentic concerns and are giving you valuable feedback and those who are just looking for a fight. Also, there are a lot of people who just don’t like cats and sometimes I can get caught in their line of fire, but that happens less these days than it did a few years ago when cats were less visible in popular culture.
How would you describe your relationship with Jackson Galaxy? How did it arise? How has it changed over the years?
Jackson Galaxy and I have become business partners and together we are the Catification team. When he first started his television show, he was a fan of my blog (moderncat.net at the time) and he sought me out to work together. The first time we talked we knew it would be a good partnership. His behavior expertise combined with my design background creates the full package of what Catification is all about, pleasing both the cats and the people.
How has your life changed since your collaborative book, Catification, that you wrote with Jackson was published in 2014?
I’ve definitely been busy working on other collaborative projects with Jackson, doing some Catification consulting for private clients, expanding my product line and online store, and continuing to blog almost every day. Not to mention, writing a second book, which recently made the New York Times bestseller list!
A 2014 article mentioned your circulation was at 200,000 views per month. Is it still growing? How do you manage all the places that you’re posting content? Like Facebook, Instagram? Your blog? Pinterest? How do you manage the comments? And the 18K email subscribers, if they write back?
Yes, my reach continues to grow as more and more cat people find Hauspanther.com and become regular readers so they can stay up-to-date on the very latest in cat design. I try to keep readers informed through all social media channels, especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (my new favorite!) I get a lot of email and try to respond to all if I can, especially is a reader has a specific question. I can’t always respond to every product suggestion, but I do read everything myself.
Do you have a virtual assistant? A real one? How do you travel?
I have a customer service manager who works remotely and she is incredibly valuable in helping me keep it all together! She answers phone calls, replies to emails for me and manages all customer service for the online store and for our wholesale division. Not to mention, she’s the BEST at customer service! Thank you, Linda!
How do you “just say no” to acquiring another beautiful feline?
I’ve learned that I cannot foster cats, they always turn out to be foster failures. I try not to visit shelters because I want to take them all home. I realize that the work I do to help cats is in a different form from actually being in a shelter.
What’s a “pet peeve” about what people today are doing (or not doing that they should) with or for their cats?
I get really angry when I hear someone say “It’s a cat, it doesn’t need anything!” Yes, cats are more independent than dogs, but to live rich, fulfilled lives, they need (and want) our attention, affection and companionship. Creating an enriched environment by providing climbing areas, comfy beds, window perches and lots of stimulating toys is a great start, but you also have to spend time with your cats. Get to know their personalities! They are amazing creatures and can give so much love back.
I love how you write “Dine,” instead of feeding your cat! What is overlooked as far as what cats need to be comfortable? Of all the topics you cover on Hauspanther.com, what’s your favorite category?
Climbing and perching is such an important category, since most cats really do want to be up high where they can survey their territory. And if you don’t give them a place to climb that is acceptable to you, they will just find their own!
Puzzle toys are something that I’m constantly recommending to people who come to me with cat behavior problems. These toys can be filled with treats or small toys and will provide cats with hours of entertainment as they try to get at the goodies inside. Great to keep cats busy at night and when you’re away during the day.
(Endorsements aside…) do you have a favorite brand or product?
The Cat Ball hideaway cat bed is an all-time favorite in our house. We have a few and they are always occupied. Also, hammock cat beds are popular here, and cat trees, too, like the PurfecTower from PurfecTrends (available in our online shop, shop.hauspanther.com)
Tell us something about the artists on your website and how you came to be associated with them.
I love finding new artists through websites like Etsy and Pinterest. I’m looking for companies to write about that really have a soul, companies started by people who obviously love cats and were inspired by their cats to start their business. You can tell by the quality of a product if the designer is really a cat person.
Is your first site, Moderncat.net still in existence? (Moderncat Studio became all Hauspanther, right?)
Modercat.net is available as an archive online, but most of the content can also be found at Hauspanther.com along with all the new posts I’ve added since 2013.
What should people know about contacting you?
There is a submission form on Hauspanther.com where people can contact me and my team, we will do our best to get back to everyone!
P.S. — We think either of these books would make a great gift for the discerning Cat Fancier at the holidays. Click on either book to find out more about ordering. (There’s even a 2-book bundle for the über stylish cat lover.)