Oh, Etsy. I go for months without thinking of you, and then when I remember, I sort of get lost in you. One thing leads to another, and the next thing I know I’ve lost 45 minutes looking at old nickel-plated clock-winding keys that I might make into a cool necklace. At least for this exercise I narrowed my search to items related to cats or made for cats, as a sort of Cat Dandy Indy Gift Guide. I chose only items that either I’d want in my own house (and might yet procure) or ones that I’d buy for a friend (and that includes Thomas, my gray and brown tabby). I really mean it when I say it was difficult to narrow it to 10 cool things I found on Etsy, because I easily found twice that, and I didn’t search too long. So here are some 2013 holiday gift ideas if, rather than going to the shopping mall, you’d like to support independent vendors who deal in the odd and unexpected.
What’s a planchette? It’s something used in metaphysical acts and rituals, most commonly associated with a Ouija board. These items were also used in seances during the Victorian age. If you’re into paranormal investigation (as I am) or communicating with your unconscious mind (as I also am), then this planchette might get some use in your home. If, however, you’re into decor that looks mysterious and maybe a little bit sinister (check!) and a fan of, say, Edgar Allan Poe (that’s me!), this $10 item that measures 4 inches by 5 inches and is made from quarter-inch birch plywood will feel welcome in your surroundings even if it gets no use in the spiritualist sense.
This cat looks remarkably like Thomas, although I consider Thomas more of a tiger or leopard than a lion — he’s stealthy and fast-moving, rather than a cat who lords over his surroundings. Maybe this hat would change him, though, especially if I put it on him near the full-length mirror in our house. The satin-lined Jungle King Lion Hat ($24.99) lets domestic cats “live the dream and rule the other animals in that jungle we call home,” says PamperedWhiskers. Consider the alternative: The same vendor sells hats that make cats look like big walking flowers.
I’m all about being subtle, and this hat is definitely that. It doesn’t shout “I’M A CAT LADY, DAMN YOU!” but it does reveal a sensibility that might make someone ask whether you have a domestic mammal at home. It’s made in Italy and sells for $29.32. It’s crocheted wool, so it’ll keep your human ears warm, and if you want to pay more, you can ask for it in cashmere.
Speaking of subtle, this T-shirt is not, but it has enough visual wit to make me like it, and if someone gave it to me, I’d wear it myself — probably with my own cat-eye glasses. It’s made by American Apparel and sells for $24.
Throughout my life I’ve embraced skulls and bones as overt acknowledgment of life’s shadow side, and I never tire of Day of the Dead images and sculptures that serve this end and also pay tribute to those now gone. This plaster and acrylic item that stands 5.5 inches tall and sells for $33 might give you a way to celebrate a cat who is no longer in your life, or just the spirit of all the cats you know who’ve crossed over into the great unknown. It would go well in the same area as the planchette above. It’s made in Argentina.
A friend of mine is pretty good at engineering things, and he once set up carpeted boards all over the walls and along the ceiling of his apartment where his cats climbed, roamed, and rested. Sadly, I don’t think Thomas wouldn’t go for that, because he has never been much of a vertical cat. Then again, maybe it’s not so sad, because I’d be tempted to make my house a vertical maze for Thomas, starting with things from this seller, CatastrophiCreations of Portland, Oregon. Here, for example, is the Super Mario, which sells for $190 and looks like a modern-art sculpture. If that cost is too high for you, the vendor has other items that look cool and cost less than half that amount.
Wow. I mean, just, wow. When one thinks of cat toys one probably thinks of fake mice or birds, or maybe fish. But an eyeball? Holy Toledo. How hysterical would it be to see your cat batting around an eyeball with (fake) bloody optical nerves and tendons and whatnot dragging behind it? I say this is worth $15 easy.
If your cat is an outdoor cat (or if your indoor cat is an escape artist), you need an ID tag. This one’s cool because it contains not only a phone number behind the copper-colored disk but also an effigy of the remains of last night’s kitty dinner. That little seaborne skeleton will also warn any fish in the vicinity to beware. (The vendor says the fish was added “just because it’s cute” — but I know a fish-warning when I see one.) It sells for $14.
Wow again. Seriously. The original behind this 11-by-14-inch print that sells for $20 was made with colored pencils. The artist cleverly uses warm colors to represent light and cool colors to represent shadow, capturing a cat’s spirit with remarkable clarity. I also just noticed that this cat also resembles Thomas — maybe that’s why I chose this one for the list. (Hi, Thomas!) For other animals with other paint-jobs, the vendor has multiple prints of cats as well as dogs, and she takes custom requests. She also sells smaller versions of prints for $12 each.
This print is more minimalist than the one above but no less striking. If your decor is spacious and stark with subdued colors, this 8-by-10-inch print will work well. The $15 item also lets you further dispel the myth of black cats being bad luck, whether you have a black kitty yourself or just support those who do.
What cool cat-related items have you found on Etsy? Tell me in the comments.
Cat Dandy knows cool stuff when he sees it:
About Keith Bowers: This broad-shouldered, bald-headed, leather-clad motorcyclist also has passions for sharp clothing, silver accessories, great writing, the arts, and cats. This career journalist loves painting, sculpting, photographing, and getting on stage. He once was called “a high-powered mutant,” which also describes his cat, Thomas. He is senior editor at Catster and Dogster.