If it moves, it dies.
A START-UP is pioneering the use of water hyacinths to make beds for cats.
Fittingly called Alaga (pet), its two initial creations clearly show how it has the cats' and the environment's welfare in mind.
Water hyacinths are commonly used for basketry, but only Alaga has so far used them to make animal companion products in the Philippines. To do that, Alaga has tapped an urban poor cooperative in Las Piñas to weave dried up water hyacinths into cat beds and cat pods as designed by Alice Sarmiento, a writer, teacher, curator and cat lover. By choosing the prolific water hyacinth as material, Alaga helps put this rather invasive plant to good use while giving cat owners a “green” alternative when it comes to cat beds.
Alaga's Blissful Bed may look a bit ordinary, except that its entry point is located on one end and not on the front like in most cat beds. The Peaceful Pod is the more interesting one because its unique shape offers a private, cozy and cavernous space for lounging and sleeping. Both the cat bed and cat pod come with a thick oval-shaped mat in colorful fabric.
HIGH & LOW. MetroPets' cat reviewers give the Peaceful Pod a thorough inspection.
They say necessity is the mother of invention and Alaga is proof of that. While searching for affordable and washable cat beds, Alice realized she could instead have something produced based on her specifications.
“I was looking for an affordable bed for my cat that could easily be laundered and reused. The stitches on the heavily padded and cushioned ones tend to break when laundered. While the cushioned beds were comfortable, it was just as important to have the cheaper floor mats around as alternative,” Alice said.
“We developed a woven bed because I wanted something that is easy to wash and dries easily. I often foster cats rescued from the streets, and usually the ones who fell really ill could no longer walk to their litter box. So, washability was a huge consideration,” she added.
Alaga's Blissful Bed and Peaceful Pod can be simply washed with cool soapy water, then rinsed and dried. No intense scrubbing or strong water pressure required to avoid damaging the weave. If they are not too soiled yet, both cat “purrniture” can be wiped down with a damp cloth before letting them dry in the sun.
Alaga's products are labors of love as they usually take weavers about half a day to make the bed and a full day to do the pod. Alice said two to three people work on each, “because it takes one person to create the wire and wicker armature and another to do the weaving. The process is quite labor intensive, so each pod and bed tends to look slightly different.”
Those interested to buy the Blissful Bed and Peaceful Pod can put an order through Alaga's Facebook page. Delivery is done by Alaga and a third-party courier. Meanwhile, stay tuned for Alaga's next environment-friendly products, which may include a tiny divan for cats and a teepee that really looks more like a woven igloo, said Alice. -- Alma Buelva, MetroPets
By ALMA J. BUELVA
GET a cat and you could be in a sticky situation as one self-proclaimed cat lady discovered. It is not a bad thing though for Katrina Ballecer who built a small business out of making stickers in her cats' likeness.
Five years ago, Katrina made stickers of her orange tabby cat Nugget which she put on random places. They proved to be a hit among her friends who asked to buy them, so she made more Nugget-inspired stickers for them and to sell at art markets. Thus, The Offbeat Cat was born.
Katrina works as a designer for a graphic software firm. She comes home to 10 cats who provide her with all the inspiration she needs to design quirky looking kitties, which is the essence of The Offbeat Cat.
“I just like the idea that all cats are out of the ordinary, quirky and weird. I am hoping that my brand has that same spirit,” she told MetroPets.
Although Nugget died in 2015, Katrina continued with what she calls as her “passion project” with the help of her current cats.
“Most of them are featured in my stickers. The newer cats will be added soon,” she said.
Aside from stickers, Katrina expanded The Offbeat Cat merchandise by adding cat-themed fabric pins, postcards and iron-on patches. She is also planning to launch pet accessories this year.
While there's a lot of cat-related brands out there, The Offbeat Cat is different in a way that it truly has a heart that beats for cats. Most of its proceeds go to animal welfare projects.
“There is purpose behind the brand. Most of the profits go to helping out with trap-neuter-return projects, funding medical bills (usually posted by members of Cat Care PH), and buying food for the strays. We have donated to PPBCC, PAWS, CARA, Purrhaven Cats, Cats of Technohub, Cats of Ortigas, MAS and some people who reach out on Cat Care PH,” said Katrina.
“The Offbeat Cat is my passion project. I figured that I needed to find a fun way to fund my cat projects and this was it,” she added.
Aside from joining art markets, Katrina also attends events like the Komiket and Sticker Con to promote and sell The Offbeat Cat items. People can also buy them through The Offbeat Cat's Facebook and Instagram accounts. -- MetroPets
* Meow Project makes cat cartoons that will stick with you