Furniture for cats! Where did that idea come from? “Will and I are both interior designers who also happen to be animal-lovers. I have a pet cat, and Will had won a competition designing toys for pandas.
“I felt that the kind of furniture available for cats wasn’t suitable. Designs that were colourful, or with cat patterns, were the focus. We couldn’t find pieces that could fit easily with a variety of interior styles. [Three years ago] I asked Will if he was interested and that’s how we started.”
What are the challenges you faced with The9Life? “From what we had seen in the market, the furniture pieces on offer either catered to humans only or cats only. We wanted to make something that integrated the living spaces for both parties.
“Cats want to share the same space as you. This is why so many cats don’t use the beds you buy for them – they would rather sit with you. Our challenge was to find a balance between the needs of both sides. We want to create furniture that serves as a meeting point for owner and pet.”
Give us an example. “Our Welcome Home Shelf: for humans, it’s a shelf next to the front door to place your keys and wallet on when you come home; for cats, who usually greet their owners by the door, the shelf serves as a platform where they can rest. There is twine wrapped around the shelf to give cats something to scratch.”
What have you learned from creating these designs? “Usually when designing interiors, we need to consider human behaviour, which is an element we understand innately. But designing for cats is totally different.
“For example, cats can jump three or four times their body height. When we see a staircase, we see a staircase, but cats won’t ascend step by step, but jump two or three steps at a time. If we see a table, chair or shelf, we see them as separate furniture pieces; cats will see a series of jumping platforms.”
What’s next? “Right now we want to concentrate on products for cats, but we would eventually like to expand into products for other animals. We are planning a litter box next.” ■