For get-ahead gift retailers, it may be time to get catty. From wild and exotic to cute and cuddly, cats are making their paw prints on the gift industry. Gift & Stationery magazine's managing editor,Christopher Gigley, says pets are perennially popular themes. Now cats, arguably America's number-one pet, are getting their day in the sun, frolicking across everything from pillows and soap to stained glass.
Bonnie Sewell's Los Angeles gift design company, Bonnie Sewell Designs, has increased its focus on things feline over the past several years with a line of dolls that includes kittens dressed for the holidays (think Santa Paws) and cat-shaped door stops (below). "People can relate to cats no matter what kind of cats they are," says Sewell. As gifts go, cat lovers are among the easier customers to please because they're not as breed-specific.
"You've got grey cats, calico cats or tabbies," says Gigley. "Dogs are tougher because customers won't just buy a dog mug--they want the French Poodle mug or the Rottweiler mug. Pet owners are crazy about their pets, so you've got a solid market to build on."
In the gift industry, you're dealing with products people don't need, so there has to be an emotional draw. "With cats," says Gigley, "you can be sure you have that connection."