Yesterday was International Cat Day, so here’s a virtual hello to all felines and feline lovers out there. Give your cat a cuddle for me.
I’ve been wanting to get some cat toys out in my shop for a while. I had to think about what to make, and the logical answer was “something that makes noise, something with catnip, something to keep cat and human happy.” If you’re in the business of selling pet-related stuff, you need to remember that although your end product might be for a feline or canine, ultimately it’s the human you need to please – they’re the ones with the wallets, after all.
After thinking about it for a while, and remembering what my cats liked, I decided to order some plastic rattle balls to felt with bright colours. I started by covering the ball with the wool, needle felting it in place and then wet felting it with soap and warm water. If you want to make your own, wool in batts is better than top for this because the fibres aren’t completely aligned and still retain some short fibres; the end result will also look smoother with less fuss.
These are the balls I made. Bright colours work best because there’s a fair chance the ball will end up underneath some furniture, and you’ll need to see it to fetch it back (while your cat looks at you disapprovingly because of your poor Treasure Retrieving skills).
Next was the catnip toy. A fish seemed like a fun shape to make, so I set about making a prototype to decide on the best way to make these things last longer – kitty will eventually mangle them, because that’s what cats tend to do when there’s catnip involved.
In case you don’t know, catnip is a plant that makes your feline a bit high, in a good and non-toxic way. There’s no dependency either, so it’s fun and safe to use. It affects both domestic and big cats alike (go on YouTube if you don’t believe me!)
After the toys were made, job done, right? Wrong. There’s also marketing to consider, so I thought it would be a good idea to take some photos with a cat to show how the toy works. I had to outsource my cats though, because my Squish is black (harder to photograph) and of course he has to be immune to catnip…
I’m a member of an Etsy Team based in London (appropriately) called London Local and I decided to ask to “borrow” a cat from a team member. In a matter of minutes I had a volunteer!
Meet Fudge, a beautiful ginger tabby (and his human Melodie, one of the captains of the London Local team). Fudge was a great photo subject because he’s obviously gorgeous, and he’s not black (sorry, Squish).
Fudge was a little wary of new people, so I was careful not to overstep my friendliness with him. I just tried to hand him the catnip fish and let him react to it. Judging by the next images, I’d say he was interested!
Then Melodie had the great idea to introduce me to Mo, her neighbour’s cat. This furry girl was super friendly and not at all surprised to see strangers in her territory, so photos were a lot easier. I’d say she was also a fan of the catnip fish.
So now all I had to do was go over the dozens of cute cat photos I now had, choose a couple and set the toys free out onto the world. You can find them here.
I hope this gives you an idea of how some creations come to life, and the process between imagining, creating, marketing and ultimately listing them.
Have you tried handmade cat toys before? Would you? Did you ever wonder about the (sometimes) lengthy process of creating something commercially? Share your thoughts, I’d love to read them.