There has long been a common misconception about cat lovers and women who particularly like cats. Perhaps an image of someone with 20 cats surrounded by trash and nibbles stays in your head, and you’re not alone: popular culture got the idea of the “crazy cat lady” with characters like the disheveled Eleanor Abernathy in The Simpsons and enforced Robert De Niro’s clumsy, elderly cat lover at SNL.
But times have changed: in recent years pets have been humanized – and more likely to be accepted as “children” of humans. Companies have also subscribed to this idea. Thanks to a cohort of stylish companies and influencers ready to help you “catify” your life, being a cat person is not just cool, it’s a whole aesthetic.
The idea of “catification” – or changes to your home to suit your needs and the needs of your cat – was initiated by Hauspanther founder and cat style expert Kate Benjamin, who first looked at cat design because they saw an untapped market in the pet category. But what started with a blog grew into building a modern cat design business and turning it into a lifestyle. In addition to getting rid of the “crazy cat lady,” Benjamin wanted to get rid of the idea that cat owners “must be covered in fur and it’s gross and you don’t care what it looks like.” It’s the opposite, says Benjamin to Vogue: “The modern cat person takes care of it.”
Josh Feinkind, founder of the modern cat furniture outpost The Refined Feline, has seen more awareness that there are “alternatives to ugly scratching posts with shaggy carpets,” which he attributes to social media. “The combination of cats and visually appealing designs is a catnip for users of platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, which in turn increases awareness,” he says of the trend.
Jimmy Wu, co-founder of modern day cat goods startup Cat Person, believes that what helped normalize the cat fanatic’s aesthetic is making products for both cats and their humans. In a Cat Person survey of consumers about cat products and furniture last year, Wu found that “people felt they had to compromise on this category today,” which meant they didn’t found a large selection of cat furniture and felt like a cat Products were “underrepresented” in cat shops. “Over half of cat parents said they bought products for their cats that were actually made for a small dog,” says Wu. This niche in the market also contributed to misunderstandings about cats, in his opinion: “Cats have been largely ignored, which is why they don’t have great aesthetics today [because] many products and actually not designed for cats. “