Takahiro Kuraishi, creative product manager of sports brand “adidas” as well as designer for England-based fashion brand “CASH CA” is one of the aspiring Japanese designers going global. Behind Kuraishi’s creative side, there is a 12 years old cat named “Bondo” with a dog-like talents to entertain.
Man’s best friend becomes a cat
—How did you first come across Bondo?
I thought about getting a cat but it never really happened whenever I walked into pet shops and saw the bizarre prices tagged on them, but I picked up a magazine called “Cats” (title has been changed to “Neko Sekatsu”) and saw Bondo on the “looking for a home” column they had. I picked up the phone and met up with Bondo.
—So you know Bondo’s brothers and sisters?
Yes (pulling out pictures) these are pictures from Bondo’s kitten age. The pictures were sent to me by Bondo’s breeder, Nakajima-san. You can see here, the cat with red neck tie is Bondo’s mom.
—It has been 12 years, are you still in contact with the breeder?
Every year, I would get new year’s greeting card from the breeder, Nakajima-san, though it seemed have stopped now I think about it… I also used to send Nakajima-san pictures of Bondo.
—Before Bondo, was there a cat?
There was a dog. My family had a husky when I was little. For large dogs like husky, walking is crucial. I remember walking him before the school and again when I came back from the school. It was tough but I’ve always enjoyed outdoor and Tomosuke Noda’s essays and Hideaki Satoh’s “Gaku no Bouken” inspired me to take my dog on a canoe trip. Didn’t work out though, the dog was horrified of water.
—So how did you become a cat person from a dog person?
I thought cats are less-maintenance compared to dogs. Also, I was doing a home stay in America and the family had an awesome cat. My friend Takishin (Neighbor Hood’s Shinsuke Takezawa) also had an awesome cat so maybe I started getting jealous.
—As a previous dog owner, what is the biggest difference living with a cat now?
In my case, dogs are more high maintenance. The bond between the owner and the pet doesn’t change though. Bondo has never been ill so far. He’s a perfect pet for me.
Growing accustomed to Bondo
—Why the name “Bondo”
No real meaning or thought in it… maybe perhaps James Bond? Or Bondo Oki?
—What is Bondo’s personality like? A 12-year old cat must be quiet mature.
Nope, not Bondo. After toilet or eating, Bondo gets really hyper and runs around the house like a hamster on a wheel.
—Bondo doesn’t seem very shy
Actually, it is bit unusual today. Bondo would hide behind the curtain when some new walks in and just stick her ears out of the curtain to eavesdrop.
—Does a day begin early with Bondo?
Around 5:30 a.m. is the breakfast time and Bondo likes to get his back brushed during his breakfast. That became a daily routine.
—It is quiet unusual to picture Bondo eating breakfast while getting hair brushed. Does Bondo have any dietary preferences?
For dried food, it is “Hills” by Science Diet, especially the hairball reduction line. Bondo gets really irritated when I run out of the dried food so I always try to stock up on “Hills.” I also give canned food but very occasionally. As for Bondo’s dining ware, it is cat-shaped with a tail as the grip of the dish. I don’t think Bondo cares much about table manner. Bondo spills a lot.
—How about cat toys?
There was a period of time when Bondo was obsessed with strings but he’s not that into toys these days. Bondo will play with my cell phone strap sometimes but as for scratching, Bondo’s favorite spot is the food shelf. There are scratch marks all over the cat food shelf.
—How about toilet issues as a house cat?
Quiet small space I’ve got, I figured… So at the moment, it is located at the entrance of my working room. I use Uni Charm’s odorless sand as well as their padded sheet so I’ve never been bothered by odors but for a reason I will never understand, Bondo crawls into the toilet box and pee with his butt sticking out of the toilet box. I have to lay lots of padded sheets around the toilet box.
The Talented One
—Do you collect cat-related goods such as toys, dolls, books or even manga?
I don’t really collect cat-goods myself but as for manga, I really like “What’s Michael?” (Makoto Kobayashi’s manga series) The main character’s kitten, Minikeru has chubby belly just like Bondo
—So it is not that you would call yourself a cat lover. You are in love with Bondo for 12 years.
I think so. Most of the pictures on my cell phone are pictures of Bondo and I would show them to my co-workers over and over, haha. There are lots of stray cats around my house but I’m not really attracted to them? I love Bondo but I am not eligible to be titled as a cat-lover.
—So it sounds like your lifestyle does not satellite around your pet. Almost like you and Bondo, each got own lifestyle.
Yes, I mean, cats are not very clingy pets to begin with. They don’t go out of their way to appeal their cuteness though they will come to cuddle with you when it’s cold but we are not an inseparable kind of man and a cat.
—Bondo is very well-mannered, I find.
For a 12 years old cat, Bondo is very active and still has kitten like characters but she doesn’t cry or make big messes. Actually, I trained Bondo like a dog, haha. Whenever I was giving fish snacks, I trained Bondo to do “high five” and “sit.” I also tried “wait” but that one never worked out.
—It is really rare to train cats to do tricks! Where is Bondo’s favorite spot in the house?
A little wooden bed from Ikea, I think it’s for child’s teddy bear or something. The size fits Bondo perfectly. Also a beads cushion I bought for myself. I think Bondo really likes rolling over the cushion so I just gave it to her.
—No cat towers?
I personally really want one but I haven’t yet found a cat tower design I want in my house. I receive “PEPPY CATS” magazine from Bondo’s vet every month and I check the new cat goods every time. Still, it is a big step to install a cat tower for me. It will not only change the room but lifestyle for both I and Bondo. I’m not really thinking of decorating my house as “Cat- friendly” house.
—There are lots of funny and stylish goods and furniture for dogs out in the market compared to cats. As a designer, do you think you might design cat goods in future?
Of course, if I find a chance. I always think about products I could design for Bondo, for example she has a habit of biting on to my hand and kick me with her legs, I’ve been thinking of some sort of oven gloves like product I can use when Bondo gets her kicks on. The thing is though, cats are much more self-opinionated compared to dogs so even if I buy something because I think it’s cool, there is no guarantee that the cat will also like it and that I’m sure many cat owners can agree on. I do find that appealing though in cats, the mystery of what this animal is thinking.