An Interview with the Founder and Editor of Moderncat
I previously introduced Moderncat in my post Unique Cat Products With a Modern Twist because I loved the site so much. It is my pleasure today to introduce you to Kate Benjamin. Kate is the founder and editor of Moderncat, a resource for cat owners with a modern style. She seeks out the newest products for living with cats in a modern home. She tries to identify not only products that fit a modern aesthetic, but also items that are truly innovative and that make living with cats a more enjoyable experience. Moderncat combines product reviews with other useful information for cat owners in a clear and concise format.
Welcome to The Conscious Cat, Kate.
Tell us a little bit about Moderncat. How did you come up with the idea?
Thanks so much for giving me the chance to share my story with your readers! I started Moderncat because I was a cat owner myself looking for a single online resource for well-designed cat products. I was finding individual companies and products, but I couldn’t find a place where I could view everything all in one place. I had learned a little bit about blogging in my job as the Director of Marketing at a children’s product development company, so I decided to start my own blog. Apparently, other people were looking for the same thing because the readership started to grow and today Moderncat has a wonderful international audience of design-conscious cat lovers.
Moderncat became hugely successful in the two years since you started the project. How do you explain its popularity and success?
I think the success of Moderncat is due mostly to the fact that there is nothing else really like it, but also that I’ve been very active in all kinds of different online communities, helping to spread the word about the blog and attract more readers. It didn’t happen overnight, I’ve worked at it slowly and steadily for over two years now. It has been a pleasure getting to know my readers through the comments and emails.
Is Moderncat a full time job for you?
Yes, it is now my full-time job and I absolutely love it! I ran the blog for two years on the side, and then I was recently able to go out on my own so I could focus on writing Moderncat and working on other cat–related projects, including volunteering with local animal rescues whenever I can.
Where do you find the products and giveaways you feature on your site?
I read consumer and trade magazines in the cat/pet industry, plus I try to attend one or two of the big pet industry trade shows each year to stay up-to-date on the latest products. I do a lot of online research, plus most of the cat product manufacturers keep me updated on their new offerings. I also get lots of tips from readers. That is where some of the most interesting information comes from!
How do you decide whether a product is a good fit for Moderncat?
First, the company behind the product has to have a good reputation. It’s important to me to only promote products and businesses that are ethical and provide quality products and services. I like to work with smaller companies, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t cover products from larger companies if I think they are good. Also, it’s important that the manufacturer considered both the cat and the owner when designing a product. That will make a successful product. Most things on Moderncat have a more modern, or streamlined design. I consider both the function of the product as well as the aesthetic design.
A lot of the products you feature, in addition to being aesthetically beautiful, are also what I would consider high end products. Do you find that there’s a good market for these products among cat lovers?
Yes, I do feature a lot of products that are quite expensive. This is usually because the products are handmade using high-quality or sustainable materials, and they are often made in small quantities. I think there are some people who can afford these high-end products, others who save up for that one special item, and still others who can’t afford these things, but hopefully they will be inspired by the ideas to create something similar themselves. It’s really all about inspiration and creativity. You don’t have to spend a lot to make a wonderful home environment for you and your cats. There is a whole DIY (do-it-yourself) section on Moderncat where you can see photos of projects readers have completed, often with instructions and tips.
In addition to being a blogger, you are also a designer. Tell us a little bit about the things you design.
I have a craft studio in downtown Phoenix where I’m working with a team of designers to develop some cat products that will be available soon on Etsy. The collaborations are a lot of fun! I have a lot of friends who are architects and designers and also cat owners. Stay tuned for more details!
You have six Moderncats of your own. Tell us about them.
Simba was the first cat that I’ve owned as an adult. I’ve had her for 6 years now and she is 10 years old. She is a cream tabby and apparently female cream tabbies are pretty rare.
Next came Mackenzie. He is a big beautiful brown tabby Maine Coon who is 7 years old and the sweetest thing ever!
Then Ando showed up as a 5 month old kitten. He’s my baby! A shiny black panther-like cat with a bit of Siamese in him. He is in charge.
Then I adopted Sophie. Not sure how old she is, but she is quite old and has diabetes, but she is a great cat and just wants to have her head scratched.
Two years ago, my boyfriend and I got involved with The Great Kitty Rescue through Best Friends Animal Society. This was a cat rescue where Best Friends was called in to help with an institutional hoarding situation in Nevada where they rescued 800 cats. My next two cats, Flora and Dazzler, both came from this rescue. They are both torties. Flora is tiny and has plenty of tortitude, and Dazzler (we call her Dee) has no tortitude at all, and she is completely and hopelessly in love with Ando.
Do they get to test products before you post them on your site?
Yes they do! Not everything, only the things that I’m really excited about. My condo isn’t big enough for everything!
Do they have any favorites?
The top faves have to be the Hepper Pod (Dee is in there EVERY day) and the Sweet Lounge from Marmalade Pet Care. They also love the wall-mounted scratcher from Moderncritter as well as the Curve perches from Urban Pet Haus. They really like the Caboodle and the tall cat condo from Modern Cat Designs. The latest faves are the Cat Eye Bed from Precision Pet and the pulp scratch lounger from Bergan. The Sleepypod is the best carrier ever, plus it converts to a bed. If I leave it out, someone can be found lounging in there. I really like the Smart Cat Box for a great natural litter alternative. Favorite toys include DaBird and the Cat Dancer.
Thanks for joining us on The Conscious Cat, Kate, and we wish you much continued success with Moderncat.