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Behind the Brand: Hilde & Phil's Cat-e-Corner Couch Scratcher Side Table

published on
January 27, 2024
Hayley Williams
Table of Contents
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

Positive scratching outlets are important to a cat’s health and well-being. But cats can be very particular about where they want to scratch. Even if you have a lot of scratchers in your home, usually the furniture that is the most enticing is the couch.

There are many people like you reading this that are trying to find an aesthetic solution. Jeremy, founder of Hilde and Phil, has created a couch scratcher that doubles as a side table that I think is a fantastic solution for people with cats and even those without.

I recently sat down with Jeremy to learn more about his journey creating the Cat-e-Corner, which is one of the most aesthetic cat scratcher couch side tables I’ve ever seen, and to find out more about what’s to come with the launch of this innovative product.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your cats, Hilde & Phil, and the Cat-e-Corner.

I’m Jeremy, and I'm a 3D Visual Development artist recently working with Netflix. I'm based in Philadelphia where I share a home with my wife, our daughter, and our two beloved cats, Hilde (pronounced Hil-Dee) and Phil. While I spend a good portion of my time creating digital art on my computer, I'm equally passionate about crafting physical objects by hand. I have a tiny woodshop in my basement, which is where the very first Cat-e-Corner came to life. Launching this product has tapped into many of my skills and hobbies, from woodworking to 3D Design.

Can you share the story behind the creation of Cat-e-Corner? What inspired you to develop this cat scratcher side table?

We adopted Hilde & Phil when they were kittens around the time we bought our first house. This was during the early days of the pandemic, and we were busying ourselves with a lot of home renovations.

After buying our very first brand-new couch, we quickly noticed the cats indulging in a common feline pastime: scratching the sofa arms. We invested so much time and energy in designing and refurbishing our living room, the last thing we wanted to do was to drape our new furniture in blankets or use the aesthetically unpleasant solutions already available in the market.

I designed a custom piece of furniture to solve our problem, first mocking it up in my favorite 3D software, Blender, and then bringing it into reality in my woodshop. The design was an immediate hit with both the cats and my wife. And, so many people who saw it expressed interest in owning one, that I decided to start a business to make them available broadly. This led me to start on Cat-e-Corner. Since then, I've refined the design and secured a patent-pending status, an essential step in protecting my work throughout the manufacturing and Kickstarter launch process.

I think the Cat-e-Corner does a great job of balancing aesthetics for people and function for cats. Did you face any challenges in designing a product that caters to both humans and cats?

Thank you so much! My main objective was to craft a product that I would be personally proud to have in my own home. One of the key challenges I faced was ensuring the Cat-e-Corner was not just functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. So much cat furniture is designed to be disposable, and therefore looks cheap or shabby. When making a piece of durable quality furniture that is intended to also promote healthy scratching behavior in cats, it was crucial to ensure that the scratching surface could be easily removed and replaced once it showed signs of wear.

Initially, I used sisal rope for the scratching surface. It had a great look and felt right, but replacing the rope was a nightmare. So, I started experimenting with sisal mats and velcro and landed on the perfect blend of aesthetic, functionality, and ease of use. I wanted to make sure no tools were required to remove the surface once it needed to be replaced.

How does the Cat-e-Corner work for various sofa styles and sizes? Can you tell us more about the different wood options and patterns available?

Making the Cat-e-Corner versatile enough to fit the myriad sofa styles owned by our anticipated customers was quite an adventure. I poured over countless mid-century furniture catalogs online to understand the range of standard sofa dimensions. It became clear that most sofas share a similar depth, but that the sofa arms show a significant variety. This discovery led to the innovative adjustable height feature of our product, in which separate risers can be inserted to ensure it fits a wide array of sofa styles and sizes comfortably.

At launch, we will be offering two hardwood options: Maple and Black Walnut. The wood is sustainably sourced. Each is finished with an eco-friendly varnish that not only highlights the natural beauty and grain of the wood, but also contributes to the sustainability of our product.

We are starting with a single neutral scratching mat design, but we plan to unveil more colors and patterns down the line. We're also excited about the idea of involving our community in the creative process, and will be running polls to select special edition patterns–including holiday themes–for next year. It's a great way for us to connect with our customers and tailor the Cat-e-Corner to their tastes.

What materials are used for the scratching surface and why were they chosen?

Right now, we've opted for an all-natural sisal weave for the scratching surfaces, as it's both safe for cats and environmentally friendly. It's also quite resilient against scratching, which is a big plus. Depending on how well our pattern ideas are received, I'm open to exploring other natural fibers that offer a broader palette of colors, allowing for even more creative and vibrant designs.

Can you elaborate on the modular design and how it allows users to adjust the table's height?

Absolutely! The Cat-e-Corner comes as a base unit standing at 22.5 inches tall. To accommodate different couch arm heights, we offer risers of 2 different sizes that can be inserted during the easy assembly process to create a height of 24.5 inches or 26.5 inches. This modular design also helps customers easily adapt their Cat-e-Corner if they purchase a new couch later with different dimensions. Our aim is to provide durable, long-lasting furniture that maintains its quality and functionality over the years.

Who do you think would benefit from buying a Cat-e-Corner?

Everyone! The Cat-e-Corner was designed to protect pristine couches from our customers’ cats, but it also works great as a cover to hide the unattractive aftermath of an already-scratched couch. And although I initially anticipated our primary audience to be pet owners, we've received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from people who don't have pets. They're really drawn to its minimalistic design and the functionality it offers as a side table, keeping items like drinks and electronics close at hand while sitting on the couch. It's exciting to see that our product is resonating with such diverse groups of people.

If someone wants to be the first to have a Cat-e-Corner how can they get in early? If they preorder, do they receive a discount?

We're initially launching Cat-e-Corner with a Kickstarter campaign. We do have a presale page for those who want to be the first in-line to back it on Kickstarter. As a thank you to our early supporters, we're offering a special discount off the retail price to all our backers. Plus, those who jump on board within the first 48 hours of launch will lock in an even more exclusive, reduced rate. It's our way of showing appreciation for the early birds who help bring this project to life.

Could you provide more details about the upcoming launch on Kickstarter?

We're planning to launch our Kickstarter campaign in the second week of February.  Our backers will have the choice of four base options: versions for both the left and right couch arms are available in our premium Maple and Black Walnut hardwoods. Additionally, we have add-ons like the risers and extra mats to further customize your Cat-e-Corner.

What sets our campaign apart is that, unlike typical crowdfunding projects where prototyping and manufacturing begin after the launch, we've completed these steps beforehand. I'm excited to share that we've successfully wrapped up the manufacturing sourcing and prototyping phases. This means as soon as our Kickstarter campaign wraps up, we're ready to hit the ground running with production and start shipping orders right away!

Follow Hilde & Phil

Website | Kickstarter | Instagram | Facebook

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