Hats For Cats: A Search for the Truth

By Adrea Gibbs

Okay, so here’s the thing.  We’ve all heard of the Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss’ iconic book about, well, the Cat in the Hat. Just recently, I saw a GoDaddy commercial, where a woman, purportedly, had an epiphany about her life’s work and began creating hats for cats and, therefore, needed a website to sell such product.  Naturally, just as one might expect of a cat, my curiosity got the better of me.  So, I went to GoDaddy, only to find in my disappointment that GatoChapeau.com, the hats for cat’s person’s website, is not real.  Nor is HatsforCats.com or any variant of such that I attempted to locate. But, fear not, dear cat-loving friends, for I was compelled to delve deeper into this topic. For what logical reason I had to do this, I cannot explain, except to simply say, it had to be done.

So, along my way I came across a couple of Kickstarter campaigns that had cats and hats apparently within their search parameters. In March of 2015, there was an unsuccessful campaign for Tiny Hats Fur Cats (that was the spelling) and another, Hats for Cats, had been successful in May 2013, but the associated Etsy Store no longer appears to be operational as there were no hats showing. I did find an Etsy story that currently does sell hats for cats. In fact, I found multiple. At that moment, however, I suspected I had only just scratched the surface. I pressed forward.

You have to be careful when you type something into an online search like “hats for cats.” You may wind up getting things you didn’t bargain for, or worse, you may get exactly what you have been looking for and all sorts of variations. I had to pick and chose my way through the list carefully, doing my best to avoid things that looked like someone had randomly typed a bunch of search tags that had nothing to do with their site or pages that displayed things I was fairly certain were neither hats nor cats. Of course, even some of the more legitimate appearing sites were not much better with some having variations of hats and cats, although not necessarily as part of the same image or even on the same page.  

In addition to the very entertaining GoDaddy video I saw, and I highly recommend the full-length version for your viewing pleasure, I came across some fascinating bits and pieces. For example, if you visit Instagram, and type in hats for cats, you will, indeed, see pictures of cats wearing hats. You will also see humans whom I can only guess are possibly named Catherine, Cathy, Catrina, or any variation thereof that may use “Cat” as a nickname, folks who may consider them-selves to be hep-cats, maybe are fans of The Stray Cats, students attending the Univer-sity of Vermont and are Catamounts, or some other cat-related mat-ter for which they de-cided that tagging their photo with #hatsforcats was entirely appropri-ate. I will surmise they didn’t realize they would wind up next to some cute authentic kitty wearing a Santa hat. Then, again, one of the photos was also tagged with #stupidityatitsbest. Enough said on that matter.

Twitter was much better, and featured far fewer people, although I am still questioning a bit as to whether a cat wearing a fruit skin (greenish in color, so hard to tell what kind of citrus it was) cut into a little helmet really counts as a hat or not. However, as helmet and hat are synonyms, I suppose it does get a pass. I am not sure that any of my cats would agree to the wearing such a headdress. There were also many crocheted varieties of hats and associated references to shops on Etsy (there you go, Etsy, again, but I promise you, I’m coming to that). Twitter also pointed me toward a book called “The Accidental Prime Minister,” which had prominently displayed on its cover “Hats for Cats,” as what I could only take that it was a campaign promise. Not to get political, but that may be one of the better platforms I have heard for this election cycle. The little write-up on Twitter said it is a great way to explain elections to kids. I think there are some adults that could use that book, too, but I digress.

I find thinking of books leads me to thinking about Amazon, so I transitioned over there to see if I might have some success in that realm and, sure enough, it proved bountiful. There were instruc-tional books such as Cats in Hats: 30 Knit and Crochet Hat Patterns for Your Kitty, by Sara Thomas, Cat Hats: Sixteen Paper Hats to Put on Your Unsuspecting Kitty!, by Kitty Barnett, and Tiny Hats on Cats: Because Every Cat Deserves to Feel Fancy, by Adam Ellis which according to the quip had the added bonus of photos and anecdotes. For those of theKindle-persuasion, there were that met the critera. Okay, one and a half. Holiday Hats For Cats: 20 Easy Crochet Patterns by Sandra Switzer Lowrey and Kitty Knits: Projects for Cats and Their People by Donna Druchunas. The later received the half mark as I didn’t see any hats specifically for cats, but I did see some cute toys. And there were hats for people that were cat-influenced. Naturally, as one might expect, you can find all different kinds of Cat in the Hat books, too. I stopped counting after twenty, but, to be fair, the majority of those books were part of the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library, based on the original stories. It appears there is a lot to learn.

Also at Amazon is an amazing assortment of actual hats for your cat, or cats, depending on your household. Clicking “cat apparel,” found a bounty of delights ranging from sailor and Viking hats to the less expected Yoda and birthday cake complete with candles hat.  A personal favorite was s little red crab hat, but I may have been swayed by cat model.  Manufacturers like Alfie Pet by Petoga Couture (fancy, schmancy), Petco Brand, and Rubies Costume Company (probably better known for their human costumes, than pet offerings), had pretty good selections, I must admit. For entertainment value, alone, it was worth a look through the different choices. Some of the models were quite poised.  Others, I dare say, seemed hard-pressed to enjoy their turn at stardom.

Moving onward, I was intrigued to find a several websites that, at first blush, seemed as though they could be viable. One, called Pampered Whiskers, is worth visiting for the Himalayan who looks anything but amused, alone. It’s great. Even better, they run the gamut from cowboy hats to regal crowns, but here is the best part about their site. They donate $1.00 for every order to the animal charity of your choice. As it turns out, that Himalayan that cracked me up? His name is Bandit and he is a rescue. How fantastic it that?  Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, I did find a website called Hats for Cats. That wasn’t the domain name, though. Nor was it an actual site in that it turns out it was a team web assignment for Pitt. For their educational curriculum, I am sure it did the trick. For own edification, it was a disappointment. It did, use a rather jazzy version of O Christmas Tree. I left it on for a bit as I continued to look for intriguing material. Somehow, even though it was the end of April, it just felt right. Maybe because it was snowing outside as it had had been, all day long. Another promising site turned out to be someone’s practice project on Prezi. I did find it highly entertaining though, reading the different components, such as the site’s non-profit purpose being, “to donate hats for cats. Cats don’t like water, so if they wear hats then they can keep rain out of their face & eyes.” It also included the following information, “A hat for a cat cost 4$, meaning that 80% of our funds are for hats for cats. We will continue to buy hats only if you can fund the money. If we can raise enough funds, we may be able to meet our milestones. However, that seems very unlikely because if we continue to raise funds at our rate right now, we may only be able to raise enough to cover 4 million hats, leaving 5 million hats for cats. So, to make up the leftover 2 million hats, we need you.” Don’t worry. I have no idea what that means, either.

Surprisingly there were quite a few articles online about hats for cats. From Buzzfeed to the Daily Mail, there were plenty of pictorials and articles expounding upon the joys of hats for cats. Then I went a step further and started to look up some of the featured artists.  Yes, artists, as for the most part they were using this form of millinery as their expression of choice, the public, and most especially cats, everywhere, being the fortunate beneficiaries. As it happened, and, yes, finally, this is where Etsy comes in, Etsy is chock-full of people making hats for cats. Where to start? Where to begin? I decided to take stock in one of the articles I had read about one Meredith Langley. So I reached out to Meredith and asked if she would consider an interview to which she most kindly responded in the affirmative.  Here is our exchange:

Why hats for cats? Was there a specific inspiration?
I first taught myself to crochet as a means of entertainment when I was a stay-at-home mom to my youngest child. The idea of hats for cats began as an amusing novelty to share with friends and family. I opened my shop on Etsy per the suggestion of a family member, but I never expected my work to be so widely and warmly welcomed as it has been over the years. 

Do you have cats and are they your models?
I currently have three cats of my own, and they are the models you see wearing my work in my shop and across the internet.

What kind of response have you received from people who have seen your work?
My work has received an astonishingly positive response over the years. I have made hats for cats to be part of weddings, birthday celebrations, graduations, and marriage proposals. Various humane societies and animal welfare organizations have used my work to help promote the adoption of homeless pets as well as important causes such as spaying and neutering. I often receive messages from people who have stumbled upon my work thanking me for making them smile. I never expected my designs to be so widely appreciated. It is a profound honor and privilege. 

Have you had some good success with your cat hats?
The fall and winter seasons of every year tend to be quite successful for my shop. My hats for cats have also been featured by various news agencies, entertainment websites, and popular blogs. 

What is your favorite among your designs?
My favorite designs thus far are The Turkey Hat for Cats and The Wizard Hat for Cats.

And so, with Meredith’s insightful, if not obvious, interview, my unexpected journey in trying to discover the seemingly overwhelming interest in Hats for Cats came to an end, for the time being, anyway.  Did I learn anything? Yes. It seems that hats for cats has a humorous connotation across the board. Whether its people posting pictures of their feline pals sporting berets, GoDaddy advertising for websites, students practicing their web-building and presentation skills, or simply someone finding a business opportunity that lends itself to a wink and a nod, one thing is for certain. It tickles people. Seems Dr. Seuss may have known that simple truth long before any of us ever did.

I wrote this piece in honor of Pet Expo and, specifically, the Hudson Valley SPCA, New Windsor, NY & the Dutchess County SPCA, Hyde Park NY. 
If you are looking for a new pet, please consider adopting from one of these wonderful organizations.  You will find a friend for life and give them one, too.