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Adopting a kitten during the pandemic meant that I let things get a little out of control on the homefront. Walking through my house has entailed navigating a treacherous obstacle course — wind around the scratching post here, step over the cat bed there, tiptoe through the catnip-stuffed mice, mind the water fountain in the corner. All fine when we were social distancing. But as I’ve begun to have friends over again, I’ve developed a routine of “de-catifying” my place. The unsightly cat furniture goes straight into the basement because nothing kills a vibe like a cat tree.
Unless, that is, you have a cat tree from Mau, a company that creates high-end products for cats based on the idea that cat furniture should be part of a room’s design, not something to be hidden away when you’re entertaining guests. Mau founder Joel Dickstein explains the eco-friendly, cat-centric ethos of the brand and how to pick the right product for your particular kitty.
What was the inspiration behind starting Mau?
We’ve always thought of cats as family members, and wanted to give them the best in terms of materials and functionality so that they have everything desired to live a happier, stress-free life full of purrs. However, as pet owners, we realized the lack of quality within the cat product industry in both materials and design, so we set out to do it ourselves. Our design philosophy has evolved throughout the years, but at its heart and soul, it stems from creating products that are appealing to the human eye while providing ultimate comfort and utility for cats. As much as we’d like to design the next Mona Lisa, we have to keep in mind that our products have to be kitty friendly.
How should cat parents like me decide what to buy for our cats? For example, I’ve heard that some cats are “tree cats” who love to climb, while others are “bush cats” who prefer to burrow and hide.
First things first, every cat owner needs the essentials — a cat scratcher, litter box, cat tree, and food. Choosing what’s right for your cat is the hard part. The biggest hints usually come from their everyday activities — just watching how they like to sleep and what they do on a routine basis can make a huge difference in selecting the right product.
Like you said, cats who love to climb will usually prefer a cat tree to jump around in and get some height versus bush cats, who prefer to burrow and hide, and will tend to prefer enclosed beds or smaller ones where they can go unseen. The kitties who like to curl up when they sleep absolutely love our baskets, whereas ones who like to lounge out more will usually prefer a flat platform.
The truth is, each purchase for cats is an adventure because you just never know what they’re going to like, but our rigorous and lengthy testing makes it much more likely to be the right fit. All of our products are “cat approved” by a wide array of “meowdels” between Mau employees, friends, and family.
The Vevo bed looks like something my cat would like. She really enjoys a certain weave, and there’s one loose-knit blanket that she always kneads. What is it about cats and textures?
The Vevo bed is a big hit among cats. The adjustable sides when folded down add a layer of warmth and snugness for kitties, but when unfolded to make the bed a bit taller, it almost creates a sense of enclosure for cats who like to hide. It’s a relatively heavy product, with a thick, velvety, knotted texture that almost hugs the cats when inside. Materials and their textures can make all the difference in a cat liking a product, which is why we try to use the best materials out there for our customers and their furry friends. Just as a human may not like a particular bed or couch due to its materials and texture, we wouldn’t expect our cats to either!
It’s amazing that 5% of all your proceeds are donated to animal welfare and environmental conservation. Why are these contributions part of your business model?
As a cat furniture company, but more importantly, as animal lovers, we feel it’s our duty to give back to our furry friends — especially given all the happiness and joy they bring to our lives. All animals deserve a chance of living a happy and healthy life and there are approximately 1.5 million shelter animals euthanized yearly. By supporting animal welfare and helping facilitate adoptions, we can help reduce that number as much as possible. Also, with everything going on worldwide regarding climate change and the destruction of our planet, it’s only right we try to make a difference in the betterment of everybody’s lives.
I saw that the wood for your cat trees is sourced only from trees that no longer bear fruit.
That’s correct! On top of that, we plant a tree for every purchase that’ll help offset carbon emissions, provide food for families, give people jobs, and make the world a greener place. We feel a large responsibility to help protect the planet and its inhabitants, and planting trees is one of the best ways to mitigate climate change.
Sounds like purchasing a Mau product is a win for the planet, as well as for customers and their kitties. What’s ahead for the company?
We absolutely love the community of cat lovers on social media — waking up to so many tags of people’s kitties enjoying our trees is better than any cup of coffee! We’re very excited to continue growing our existing line of products, and as for our new ones, we have a ton of new innovative products in the pipeline that we’re extremely eager to release to the public. We are working our hardest to come up with the most beautiful and functional furniture that our furry friends will ever lay their paws on. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when new products are released!
Mai Lynn Miller Nguyen
Mai Lynn Miller Nguyen is a freelance culture writer who launched a neighborhood publication called The Pet Times while in elementary school. She is a devoted (read: obsessed) pet parent to Pippi, a spirited little orange cat who was found in the wilds of Michigan in 2020, has since crossed the country three times, and loves to climb trees.