Browsing Tag

cats

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Megan Stickel

August 8, 2015

MeganStickel
Megan Stickel, UncommonGoods Assistant Buyer, Children & Desktop, Merchandising

My hometown…
Phillipsburg, NJ – known for having one of the oldest football rivalries in the country with neighboring Easton, PA. I never went to a single game but apparently it’s a big deal.

An uncommon fact about me…
I enjoy doing chores. Mowing the lawn has always been a favorite and I find weed whacking to be especially satisfying and fun.

My guilty pleasure is…
Having too many cats.

I’m passionate about…
Tacos.

The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen is…
It’s a toss-up between the Great Ocean Road in Australia and Bjork at ACL (Austin City Limits) in 2007.

My favorite place to eat in New York City is…
Too many places! I really love this Korean place called Hangawi where you have to take your shoes off. Other favorites are Candle Café, Champs Diner, and Angelica Kitchen.

When I’m not working, I’m probably…
Obsessively cleaning my apartment. Once I finish with that, I usually like to hang out on this random stoop with my friends – sounds lame but it’s actually perfect because none of us live there, so people just come and go as they please. No commitment!

My relationship with Mother Nature is…
I love the outdoors. I grew up in a very rural area and spent a lot of time hiking in the woods, playing in streams, and riding bikes up very steep hills. I love animals and have very strong feelings on how humans use them. I think that a lot of people are beginning to open their eyes to the truths of this as well as how we treat the environment – and that’s a great thing.

If I won the lottery, I’d…
Open a massive animal sanctuary! Also, buy a bunch soft-serve ice cream machines and open a fully vegan/non-dairy mini version of something like 16 Handles.

My style is…
Mmmm, I don’t know. I’m pretty simple and just want to be comfortable and boring. Whenever I buy something that’s not basic, I end up having no clue how to wear it and it just sits in my closet. I wish I could pull more things off!

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: How Can Your Cat Help With a Broken Leg?

August 3, 2015

22064_zoom1
There are as many theories about why cats purr as there are types of cats (we’re lookin’ at you, T. S. Eliot). It’s common knowledge that cats purr when they’re content, like when they’re being fed or stroked, but their unique, vibrating sound may also have a specific connection to their human masters. A University of Sussex study suggests that cats may have developed a ‘soliciting’ purr to obtain food and attention from humans, similar to the co-evolutionary benefits shared between humans and dogs. But there’s another reason that early humans may have made some feline friends: domestic cats purr at a frequency of 25 – 100 vibrations per second, an ideal range for reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, relieving pain, and promoting healing in both bones and soft tissues. So, essentially, a purring kitty in the vicinity may have served as a form of furry first aid. Elephants, by the way, also make a low-pitched, purr-like sound to communicate, though you probably wouldn’t want one to sit on your lap.

Cat Tao Glasses – Set of Four | $35.00

Design

Video Kitty: Celebrating the Cats of the Internet

June 18, 2014

It has been said that the Internet is the dog park for cat owners. Sure, your kitty isn’t likely to run an obstacle course or act frisky on command. But the web makes a great place for cat lovers of all kinds to swap tips and stories. And when those cute moments do happen? Catch them on video and, boom, you’ve got an instant audience bigger than that spaniel at the dog park ever had. In honor of those compulsively-watchable cats of the Internet, we’ve helped to create the Video Kitty glassware series!

Video Kitty Tumblers | UncommonGoods

Our Product Development team spent countless hours of research, combing through the endless supply of adorable online videos, in order to determine the most charismatic, most popular and most iconic types of celebrity cats.

We then worked with artist Patricia Carlin on how to capture that star quality, with its mix of undeniable cuteness and think-out-side-the-box, sit-inside-the-box attitude.

“Refuses to be Typecast”
That’s right. You can’t pigeonhole a performer of this caliber. Unless you have an actual pigeonhole for it to climb into. Or a shoebox, cereal box, milk carton, or pretty much any container of any size. It’s been proven before that, for a cat to find a place in your heart, it merely needs to find a place in your empty packaging.
Refused to be Typecast

“A Finely Nuanced Performance”
A true cat celebrity is a master of subtlety. Extreme subtlety. Verging on laziness, even. But with the kind of artistic integrity that you’ll never find displayed by their online rivals. That’s right, sloths—we’re calling you out. Because anyone can move slowly, but it takes genius to convey such a total disdain for effort.
A Finely Nuanced Performance

“Ready for a Close-up”
A-List cats maintain a very complex relationship with their fans. They’re not going to pay attention to you just because you ask. But they will occasionally allow a devotee to massage their back, or provide them with food. And those times when a cat stares deeply into your eyes and wonders what you would taste like—that’s a kind of love, isn’t it?
Ready for a Close-up

“Catapults to Stardom”
Ultimately, the cats that reach true stardom are simply different than the rest of us. And not just because we’re different species. No, they are the beautiful ones. The risk takers. The ones with the courage and dignity to carry on, even as the paparazzi revels in their supposed failures. Also, totes LOLZ when tha fuzzy kitteh falls down. ROFL!
Catapults to Stardom

So raise a glass (or a mug) to your favorite feline celebrity, whether it’s online or in your own home.

Design

Creative Design to the Rescue! (Of Homeless Cats)

March 7, 2014

eddie

My cat Eddie thinking about cats who lack a nice warm bed like his

If you love cats–as we do–it’s painful to think of them having to brave the elements on their own during a freezing northern winter, especially this year. But here in New York City, tens if not hundreds of thousands of cats have no shelter. So, if you also love creative design, and believe in its potential as a force for good–as we do–it’s nice to learn about Architects for Animals’ “Giving Shelter,” a yearly funds-and awareness-raising initiative founded by animal lover Leslie Farrell.

CatHaus

“CatHaus” by Francis Cauffman Architects was voted the favorite of the 2014 attendees

Since 2010, every year, Farrell, Director of Client Development at architecture firm Francis Cauffman, has convinced a handful of top-notch architectural design firms to design, build and donate innovative outdoor winter shelters for homeless cats. Their creations are put on public display as a one-night benefit event for the Mayor’s Alliance for NewYork City’s Animals. Attendees vote for their favorite, then all the shelters are donated to caregivers who work with needy animals.

CatHive

“Cat Hive” by Incorporated Architecture & Design

Carlton

by Carlton Architecture PC

timemachine

“Time Machine for Kittens,” by Two One Two Design

Hairball

“Hairball,” by M Moser Associates

The creative designs of these shelters help the cause architecturally (they generate good ideas for future shelters) and in other ways, too, as Michael Phillips, Community Outreach Coordinator of the New York City Feral Cat Initiative, a program of the Mayor’s Alliance, points out. “The media coverage with pictures of the flashy shelters is an eye-catcher that many people examine with interest, whereas they will skip over an article about the plight of cats abandoned to the streets through no fault of their own.”

petunia

Homeless cat in Brooklyn (rescued and adopted a few days after this photo was taken)

Nobody knows how many homeless cats there are in NYC, but estimates range from tens of thousands up to a million. Most of them are scared of us, so they keep out of sight, which makes counting them difficult. While people often think of cats as natural loners, they actually tend to form colonies near food sources such as garbage bins near apartment buildings. Some feral moms could very well be teaching their kittens to scrounge your leftovers as you sleep. (I’ve witnessed this, a sight both adorable and sad.)

wildcat

African Wild Cat at the Johannesburg Zoo, South Africa. Photo: Sonelle

These felines are all trying to survive in what, for them, is an unnatural habitat. It’s not just that it’s so urban and industrial, but also that they’re not native to this part of the world. All of the world’s domestic cats are descended from a type of wildcat that lives in the deserts of the Near East. These cats are not designed to live in the NYC climate; those pretty fur coats are not enough protection during the winter, no matter how thick they get.

They need our help, especially as it’s humans’ fault that they’re out there in the first place. This population is made up of of strays, who are lost or abandoned tame pet cats (some of whom have regressed to a not-so-tame state), and ferals, the essentially wild (that is, not socialized to humans) offspring and descendants of non-neutered strays and pets who were allowed to roam. They have neither a consistent and healthy food source, nor shelter from the elements, nor protection from urban dangers such as cars, rat and other poisons, and cruel humans.

NYFeralCatInitiative

New York Feral Cat Initiative logo

Fortunately, there are many (though never enough) animal-lovers all over NYC who work hard to rescue tame, adoptable cats and kittens, and feed and protect the ferals. The New York City Feral Cat Initiative is a coalition of more than 150 animal rescue groups and shelters whose joint mission is “to raise awareness about the thousands of… community cats living outdoors throughout NYC’s five boroughs, to offer solutions to prevent the number of homeless cats from increasing, and to successfully manage existing colonies.”

outdoorshelter

Standard outdoor cat winter shelter design by Ashot Karamian

Building shelters that enable these critters to avoid freezing misery or death during inclement weather is part of the last part, managing colonies. (To read about solutions to prevent increases in the number of homeless cats, start here.) Of course, it’s not really necessary to build shelters that are more than just functional. As far as we know, cats aren’t offended by a styrofoam-and-duct-tape aesthetic. Phillips described the minimal structural guidelines as follows: “No heavier than two people can lift easily. Inner space should be no higher than 16 inches to retain the body heat of the cats with room for straw bedding.Waterproof. Constructed with weatherproof construction materials.” He added, “Water is the most destructive force. Snow does not normally damage shelters or enter shelters in comparison to driving rain or flooding.”

rubbershelter

Rubbermaid container cat shelter by by Ashot Karamian (photo by Ashot Karmanian used with permission)

“You could use a basic Rubbermaid container for a cat shelter, which is quite common and perfectly fine because it works,” says architect Sofia Zimmerman, who, along with her husband and business partner, Adam, has participated in Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter three years in a row. “But as designers,”she continues, “we love the idea of someone walking down the street and coming across something that is artful, unusual, or even beautiful. Cat shelters are often found in alleyways, parking lots, and other places where finding something delightful is rare. But here’s a chance to do something nice looking–for the cats, their caregivers, and the people that might catch a glimpse.”

zimmerman

by Zimmerman Workshop Architecture + Design

“This third one, that we did this year, is perhaps the simplest, but in many ways our favorite. It was all about upcycling. We re-used a cardboard box and sealed it with duct tape. Inside, we lined it with styrofoam that came as packaging material for a lamp. And then we had to add another layer of insulation. This was the chance to do something delightful! We collected nine pairs of old jeans, cut them into long strips, and created a very very long braid. We wrapped it around and around the box, using as inspiration braided rag rugs–the ones you see in storybooks all the time with cats curled up on them!”

She adds that “During that process, we actually learned about the environmental impact associated with creating a pair of jeans….don’t get us started!”

fiberglasspod

“Fiberglass Pod,” by Elham Valipay and Haleh Atabaki, co-founders of MishMish, an example of a structure built with camouflage in mind

Different situations may call for specific architectural strategies. Phillips describes varying and “colony needs,” such as “camouflage; difficult specific dimensions to fit an exact spot; or fitting in visually with the design of a building nearby to please a particular property owner willing but not thrilled to have shelters placed on his property.”

If you want to help feral cats where you live, Phillips says, “Offering of your time to assist a local caretaker in your neighborhood is the best way to contribute to the long-term welfare of a community cat colony. The more widespread the support in a neighborhood the more likely the cats will accepted. Volunteering to feed the colony one or more days a week is a great help, when so often only one or two people shoulder the care for an entire colony.“

Or, if you’re crafty and love the idea of experimenting with small-scale architectural design that will actually be used, here’s your chance to do it, fur real! (sorry…)

vernacular1vernacular2vernacular3

Above three photos: “Feral Vernacular” by deSoto studio architecture + design

All photos copyright Marisa Bowe, unless otherwise indicated.

The Uncommon Life

The Cats that April Fooled You!

April 3, 2013

Did you do a double take when you saw our website and social media on Monday? Cats took over everything – there wasn’t a piece of our internet presence without a feline touch. But it was all in fun!

We knew we wanted to get in on the April Fools antics this year and decided to pay homage to everyone’s favorite star of the internet and your living room floor. In order to pull it all off, we needed some cats. Our employees jumped at the opportunity to play kitty show & tell and give their cat its fifteen minutes of fame.

Our Creative Studio was turned over to the cats and our Customer Service office area into a green room, where cats slept and ate until their owners were done with work for the day. Used to taking photos of inanimate objects and their coworkers, our photographers practiced the art of shooting a creature with a mind of its own.

To make our April Fools prank be truly uncommon, we partnered with Animal Care & Control of New York City to donate a portion of the profits made during the campaign.