“Your cat will figure it out.” This is the catchy tag line from the designer of the Cat Ball, a fabric dome or cat-cave which Jennifer Schmidt came up with while working as a costume designer. This is one of the few things I’ve bought Miss Picky and Persnickety that she actually likes and uses. Designed by Jennifer Schmidt, available from her website thecatball.com, it is a hexagonal (six-sided) fabric ball with a large entrance at one end and a smaller exit at the other.
I wrote Jennifer:
For a few weeks after receiving my Cat Ball, Pumpkin basically ignored it. She saw it, she sniffed it, but she wasn’t interested in climbing into it: I put it on the bed, on the floor, on the couch. I was resigned to it being yet another purchase that she turns her nose up at like the three different scratching things, or the food dispenser/toy, all of which have been donated to cat charities.
But then I came home one day to find her sleeping in it. And tonight, after a monumental man versus cat struggle to get her into the cat carrier (wounds inflicted, ego bruised, you guess which is which), in order to get her nails clipped at a local vet, she came home (with me) and hid under the bed. I know she appreciates having shorter nails which don’t get caught up in things, or maybe she’s really pissed off at having shorter nails, who knows, but she did agree, a few hours later, to some play time. And surprised me by basically lunging into the Cat Ball. We played a string game in and out of it. She had a great time twisting and turning around inside it as I passed the string by one hole and then the other. She’s curled up in it now, asleep, as I type this.
Sometimes I wonder why we keep these silly animals. I have plastic wrap all around my dining chairs, which it turns out were designed to be tall, fabric covered and totally stable, so the cats started scratching them. Actually, take KITTENS started mountain climbing them, and it went from there. It’s a battle we can only fight with stuff like plastic wrap and that sticky tape stuff. I guess I’m thinking of your ego bruising after this epic cat carrier battle. Maybe the vet techs have tricks- and if they do, please tell me! Getting a cat into a carrier can be so hard.
If you could have only been a fly on the wall the day Pumpkin walked into her previously ignored Cat Ball! I get so curious when I hear a story like this. What finally motivated a cat? In any case, I really appreciate that you took the time to write to us! Such a sweet story, and it does have a happy ending!
I asked Jennifer to tell me how she came up with the design:
I believe that accidental collisions of two entirely different worlds can result in innovation. In 2009 I was employed as a costume designer and had been hired to make three adult size soccer ball mascot costumes. I had never done anything like this before so I decided to start with a miniature prototype. The miniature sat around my workshop while I made the full size costumes, and after getting two tiny orange kittens I had the brainstorm to turn this prototype into a kitten bed.This costume prototype had two openings that corresponded to the head and feet of the actor.
I named this bed design “Cat Ball”, and added it to my Etsy store. Eventually I received an email from Kate Benjamin at Hauspanther.com (her blog was named ModernCat.net at that time) informing me that she’d posted my Cat Ball® beds to her blog, and I should expect to get increased store views as a result. I was flooded with responses! The two Cat Ball® beds I had made sold out and people were writing and asking for more! Customers were actually buying Cat Balls® from me before the fabrics had been selected. It looked like I had developed a viable product so I bought a business license.
One thing I hadn’t thought about when I developed the product was the territorial nature of cats. I received a message from a customer, who had just received her Cat Ball®, that she was immediately buying another unit, saying, “the cats won’t share!” It’s a funny situation that I hadn’t forseen, but it does affect my sales! I also like to get creative and make novelty designs. These creations are a great way to attract interest and our most popular novelty design is the great white shark Cat Ball® bed.