My girlfriend and I started selling cat furniture on Etsy in late 2013. We started off very small, building everything from our third story apartment. Our business, Catastrophic Creations, focuses on creating unconventional cat furniture. We noticed that a lot of cat furniture looks very similar, so our business model has been to launch products we haven't seen before in the industry. We’ve had a lot of success with coming out with products that went over better than expected and other ideas that were major flops. These are those flops.
Some of these ideas were built very early on. Most of them were made before we moved into a commercial space. I point that because some of these look like a small child built them, but it was us.
Although we still really like some of these ideas, they each have problems, with producing, shipping, or functionality.
More info: catastrophicreations.com
Tetris Cat Steps
This was another very early project. We made these cabinets and then realized during the process that we didn’t know how to make very good cabinets. If you opened some of the doors they would only open partially, hitting the doors next to them. They had magnets to hold the doors shut, but when the cats would run up the steps, the doors would sometimes swing open, which looked pretty dangerous. We also built these out of solid pine, which nobody makes cabinets out of because it warps. I wish we had used finished plywood for these. They were also very expensive to ship. They really made no sense to sell online.
The Cat Trap
We loved the way this piece looked, but only when we were standing right in front of it. From the side, it looked pretty bad. We covered it with a thick canvas, and then layers of burlap over that. Since we were using hot glue, covering it with burlap was a bit of a messy process, which really came out in the piece's final appearance.
Untitled Cat Tree
This was our attempt to come up with a cat tree that would come in three different sizes. It was made of solid wood, steel, and sisal. We designed it so that customers could start with a tree that was one or two levels and build onto over time to create a larger cat tree. We really wanted it to have an open side, but we ran into stability issues. We added additional posts, and then cross supports, but never ended up with a rock solid design. We didn’t want to launch a wobbly cat tree, so this piece never made it on the site.
Broken Cat Shelf
This was a set of shelves with cartoon-looking break marks on each to create the look that it snapped in half. The item worked out well because with one half mounted at an angle our cats could run up it like a ramp to get to the other. We discontinued it because it was really hard to cut and sand down the break marks, and even worse trying to cover them in fabric.
Mario Cat Complex
This was the second piece of furniture we ever built and ended up being one of our most popular pieces. Who wouldn’t want functioning Mario portals in their living room? These were very time-consuming to make. The worst part was the portals, not only covering them in fabric, but then wrapping the inside with sisal.
We did a limited run last year and added cannonball and cannon vinyls to create additional perches.
Chain Chomp Cat Bed
This was one of the most viral pieces of furniture in the shop. It’s one of our favorite pieces we’ve made, but had some troubles with building it inside a wood shop. It took a very long time to make because we had to come in on the weekends to do the work. For that reason, we only ever made and sold one of these.
Sisal Tornado Cat Tree
This is another candidate for our worst idea ever. We made this piece right after moving into our first commercial space. We started making our escape hatches and having lots of extra wooden circle cut-outs, so this was an idea for how to use them. We envisioned our cats running up the tornado and then napping at the top. Once the piece was all finished, we weight tested it with almost no weight at all and it snapped right in half.
The "Whoever You Hate" Cat Toy
This was our first cat toy in the shop. I really liked the idea, which was to glue a picture of someone you hated to the doll and let your cat run wild terrorizing it. We decided to buy plain dolls off of eBay and then sew clothes and a plastic mask on the front of the head. The issue was that making these dolls one at a time from home ended up being like $3 an hour for us.
Rubik's Cube Cat Bed
This was a really fun piece to build. It’s a coffee table that has a hole cut out for a cat bed inside. The top level spins and has a drawer that pulls out. We made the shape of this piece out of plywood and then covered the squares copper and exotic wood veneer. This was another really expensive item to ship, and it would have been difficult to mass produce.
Wooden Cat Drinking Fountain
This was a piece made to look like the type of drinking fountain you would see in an office or school hallway. Other then the filter, water pump, and four screws it was made completely out of solid wood.
Sisal Cat Tree
This was our very first cat tree. We still have one at home and our cats absolutely love it. That was why we kept it on the site for about a year. We discontinued the piece because we never figured out a great way to wrap sisal around a bend, and also because we had like three of these break in the mail.
Vintage Tv Cat Bed
Before we started making this piece, we knew it would be hard to produce on a larger scale, so we did a limited run of just five. The bed came with a remote to change the colors inside. Our cats really liked this one.
Keyboard Cat Bed
When we worked from home we noticed early on that the cats found our keyboard a great place to lay down. It was important that the keyboard lit up, because we pictured it looking very cool glowing on the wall. After we finally finished this bed, we plugged it into a USB wall-plug and nothing happened… I guess the customer also had to buy a laptop to keep handy when they wanted it to light up. Between that and the fact that the piece felt very dangerous with a plug dangling from it, we decided to add it to the graveyard.
This comes in as our very worst idea to date. It took longer to design than one would think. We wanted to do really thin finished plywood, but it was too light and felt unstable. Then we played around with exotic wood, but ended up going with our regular pine. We launched this product on our Facebook page and instantly received a huge amount of negative comments. Rather than coming from people who were in a bad mood, they were coming from long-time fans. The most common one was “I think my cat would just push it over.” Although our cats never pushed them over, since that was the perception, we knew they wouldn’t sell well at all.
Wood Scrap Cat Steps
This was an attempt to do something fun out of our scrap wood. One thing I don’t like about them is that we used treated pine, which is an ugly greenish color. We sent this to the customer and it broke into a bunch of pieces. Another bad idea.
Pterodactyl Nest Cat Bed
This was our first cat bed, so keep that in mind. We never released pictures of this until recently because we didn't like how it turned out at all. We were picturing a nest bed where the cat would look like it just hatched from one of the eggs. We mounted wooden eggs, which took away plush bed real estate. If we could make this one using wall vinyls for the eggs and design the bed better, I think we would give another shot.