Style & Design | ON: DESIGN

The cat's meow of creature comforts

by Mio Yamada

This month, On: Design lets the cat out of the bag about The Japan Times’ love of pets by allowing Chibi-chan, my adopted stray, to review a few products that she claims may persuade her to become a house pet.

Thinking inside the box

My human seems to think that if she puts a cardboard box in the living room, I’ll sit in it. Here’s one reason why I won’t: I want this.

The Kamakura Paulownia pet house by Natural Slow Inc.
The Kamakura Paulownia pet house by Natural Slow Inc.

Natural Slow Inc.’s polyhedron Paulownia-wood pet houses are not only attractive to the human eye, but they are also warm, provide some privacy and are rounder (we curl up into balls, not a rectangles). My human is also impressed that Paulownia wood is light, so the boxes are easy to move, and that it is an effective natural insulator that is resistant to both moisture and insects.

There are three designs — Negura, meaning “nest,” which has a slanted opening at the top; Kamakura (“snow hut”) which is open from ground level (pictured); and my favorite, the Hokura, which aptly means “miniature shrine” and has a small triangular opening that turns it into a tiny, private cave.

Small dogs can also use all of these — if you have to look after one of those annoying yappy things.

All three designs are priced at ¥29,160 each, though the Kamakura also comes in a darker stained version for ¥39,960. Don’t forget to get a matching pentagon cushion, too, which range from ¥6,480 to ¥8,100.

Chilling in the Catmook by Pet Design
Chilling in the Catmook by Pet Design

Still hanging in there

Pet Design’s Catmock Paper is comfort furniture for felines. We calm down when swaddled, and this round hammock cradles the body when we are curled up inside. My human found this particularly appealing because it comes flat packed as a single sheet of laser-cut MDF, making it super easy even for her to assemble.

Just pop out the parts of the frame, slot it together (no glue needed), then stretch and zip a base cover over it. No wonder it won a 2015 Good Design Award.

It’s even more cosy with the fluffy Boa cover accessory, which I imagine would be like snuggling into my human’s favorite cushion — except it would be all mine.

The Catmock Paper is 50 centimeters in diameter and can only hold up to 7 kilograms, so Maine Coons, this is not for you unless you enjoy carpet burn. If you are a dog or fat cat, though, get your human to check out Pet Design’s mini pet sofas — pricey but the ultimate luxury for those with couch-hogging carers.

The Catmock Paper costs ¥8,980 and comes with a gray jersey-knit base cover. Extra covers come in a variety of colors and are ¥2,300 each, while the Boa covers are ¥3,800.

For cats who aim high

If you want me in the house, but not on your book shelves, desk, kitchen table or your head, Oppo’s CatForest is a must.

The trunk of this tough plastic climbing apparatus is an adjustable tension rod, secured into place by the ceiling and floor, and the wide leaf-like shelves can be rotated and fixed at different heights. There are also friction pads on each shelf, which our humans can remove and hand wash.

Now Oppo is also offering new additional options, including a scooped Bucketshelf (¥8,640) for extra safety and comfort, and a CatPath (¥10,800) to bridge two CatForests together.

I love this. I can get right out of reach when my human gets a little too touchy-feely and also be in a position to launch random aerial attacks whenever I feel like it.

A CatForest set, including five shelves is ¥34,560 and is available in a rustic brown or minmalist white.

Miyamoto, Buddhist home altar makers, have launched Tayori, a series of memorial vessels that includes a special egg-shaped one for pets.
Miyamoto, Buddhist home altar makers, have launched Tayori, a series of memorial vessels that includes a special egg-shaped one for pets.

I could be with you forever

It never ceases to astonish us felines that no matter how aloof we deliberately are, our chosen humans still get sentimentally attached to us. It’s a bit morbid, but here’s a way that we can be remembered in style when our nine lives are up.

Humans in Japan use butsudan — home Buddhist altars to honor loved ones — but according to butsudan makers Miyamoto, such altars are becoming less popular. My human says it’s because they take up a lot of space in small apartments. Miyamoto have therefore launched a new brand called Tayori, a collection of compact wooden vessels to house keepsakes as memorials in place of a butsudan. There are several types of containers, but the smaller egg-shaped one is specially designed for pets.

Humans can choose a matching wooden display bowl for the egg and a photo holder for a picture of the beloved pet. I’m not sure what you would put in the egg. Actually, I don’t think I want to know.

All Tayori are hand-crafted by butsudan makers, and for an extra charge there are high-quality Wajima lacquer options.

For a plain set of display case and container, prices range from ¥100,000 to ¥350,000, while lacquerware prices vary between ¥300,000 and ¥900,000. For more information, contact Miyamoto via the website..