Phoenix's very own Cat Woman, Kate Benjamin, is taking her online cat accessory store to the next level. With a new name and a sleek design, her original project, Moderncat, has transformed into Hauspanther, an online magazine for design-conscious cat people.
"I wanted to come up with a new name that was more distinctive and had more of a design flair," Benjamin says. "I wanted a name that would be the go-to source for design-oriented information for cat lovers."
The magazine layout is more design-oriented than the blog and its aim specific -- to help cat owners create well-designed living environments for their whiskered friends.
"I believe that all cats should be indoor cats only, which is much safer for them," says Benjamin, who has 11 house cats of her own. "In order to keep a cat indoor only you really create a livable environment for them that meets all of their needs and their natural instincts."
The decision to bid Moderncat adieu was in part for practical reasons. Benjamin says the former name was too similar to other cat blogs and people would sometimes get confused with her studio, which sells cat products, and the blog. Now all of her projects are combined under the Hauspanther brand.
Benjamin says the name Hauspanther was chosen carefully. Cat lovers will know that "house panther" is a term of endearment for a black house cat. (Although, as Benjamin is quick to note, the magazine is for cats of all colors.)The use of the German word for house is a reference to Bauhaus, a German school considered to be the birthplace of modern design.
"If you get the term 'house panther' and you get the spelling [haus], then you're directly in my target audience -- you're a design-loving cat lover," Benjamin says.
The magazine features all the latest design finds and includes Gear Guide, a searchable database of cat gear by category. From the site, shoppers can also access the Hauspanther Etsy store, which sells homemade cat products crafted in Benjamin's 2,000-square-foot studio at Bragg's Pie Factory in downtown Phoenix.
Before the name change, Moderncat.net received more than 300,000 page views per month and had 20,000 email subscribers from around the world. All of the subscribers were transferred to the new site and will now receive daily news about cat products from Benjamin at Hauspanther. Internet traffic is gradually redirecting to Hauspanther.com, which already has about 200,000 page views per month.
Benjamin said the Hauspanther crew is working very hard this year to design several new products that will be available online soon.
Also on her agenda is an advice book on designing feline-friendly homes with celebrity cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy. Last summer, Benjamin made a guest appearance on Galaxy's show, My Cat From Hell, about improving relationships between cat owners and their feline cohabitants.
"The reason I have the cats is so I can spend time with them," Benjamin says. "I think when people have cats that's what they should do. People think cats don't need attention and that they take care of themselves. But it's not true. [Cats] really love the companionship and they like being with their people. It makes for happier cats and I think it makes for happier people too."
Benjamin says the book, set to launch in 2014, will include plenty of interior design ideas and D.I.Y. projects for modern cat lovers.