Photos courtesy of Marc-André Runcie-Unger
Marc-André Runcie-Unger is the founder of Katzenworld — the largest cat blogging website in the United Kingdom. But growing up, he had no clue he would become one of the world’s top cat bloggers.
Marc always wanted cats because he adored their affectionate and independent nature. Unfortunately, both he and his mother had fur allergies.
Later, when he moved in with his partner Iain, he brought a 500-liter tank full of tropical fish. On the other hand, Iain grew up with cats and missed having feline companions. So the couple adopted Oliver and Nubia (aka Nubzilla) from a local charity called Celia Hammond Animal Trust. “Oliver (aka Mr. Grumps) is the top cat in the house…even if the youngsters sometimes complain about this,” Marc says. Nubia only has three legs. But she is infamous for her noisy roars and stampeding around the house.
Marc and Iain also rescued Renegade. He came from Texas to the U.K. as part of a breeding project to remove a genetic disease from the oriental cat gene pool.
“Unfortunately, he is a carrier of that disease, and thus, he was removed from the program. But of course, that was good for us as he came to live with us,” Marc says.
The couple is also owned by a mischievous Peterbald named Freya. Because of her markings, she is lovingly known as Queen Snow Leopard. “And nowadays, we have a 5th cat, another naughty Peterbald called Mactavish who is always up to mischief.”
Into the Blogosphere
After Marc and Iain adopted Oliver and Nubia, they began looking for cat blogs and websites. While they were amazed at the variety of web pages, most were about dogs.
During a board game with cat-loving friends and relatives, Marc and Iain decided they would try to fill in that gap. In March 2014, they launched Katzenworld, which means “cat world” in German.
“We are all about providing a space for the cat community,” Marc says. "Many blogs out there are all about their own content. We actively involve our audience to be part of the family and contribute their own stories and experiences. This is really what makes Katzenworld a community project.”
The family-owned business covers everything cat-related from cat cafes to poetry. Katzenworld also runs a comic strip called "The Adventures of Oliver, Nubia, and Renegade." Marc and Iain write the storyboard, and Furia and Mimma bring it to life. These Italian siblings have created more than 9,000 artworks.
Katzenworld's blog is like the British Broadcasting Network of the cat world. It welcomes hobbyists or professional writers from all corners of the world. They cover hot-button issues like declawing and trap-neuter-release. Controversial animal welfare topics are often ignored by the mainstream media. That’s why it’s common to see pieces on Katzenworld that contradict each other.
“While we do allow guest posts, we try to vet content before it goes live,” Marc says. But it can be a long and tiring process to weed out the "weird" posts. For example, Marc often gets contacted by dog companies that believe cats are simply small dogs.
Katzenworld also promotes cat welfare. Not just for pet cats but also for community cats and even their larger cat cousins like lions. To cover the full spectrum of the cat world, Marc also works with many different cat experts, from feline vet specialists to purebred cat rescue groups.
Building a Brand
Katzenworld has also won many blogging awards, including My Post Card’s and Vuelio’s "Best Cat Blog." Katzenworld was just a small blog run by Marc, Iain, and two friends. "But over time, it grew into an internationally-known publication. We also added our online shop with in-house artwork gifts, fabulous cat toys, and gifts for cat lovers,” Marc says.
Katzenworld’s most popular items are unique cat toys like Munchiecat's catnip-infused plush sushi toys. It also sells homemade catnip teabags with green tea or Earl Grey stitching. Its proceeds are donated to International Cat Care: a cat welfare charity that challenges misunderstanding, ignorance, and cruelty to affect positive change in the lives of cats.
“International Cat Care approached us at the start of our blog to see if we wanted to partner with them. Since then, we have closely worked with them to help each other spread our messages,” Marc says. “They are also our go-to organization to have veterinary content checked or even created.”
Katzenworld also has exclusive cat care products like beTWENTYS’ Banana-Shaped Cat Bed and Necoichi Raised Cat Food Bowls. This limited-edition Nala Cat water bowl has an inner lip to prevent spills and measuring lines for portion control.
From the Wish Upon a Star Cat Umbrella to the Spirits of Salem Embossed Purse, customers are also spellbound by Lisa Parker’s artwork. They feature cats with a magical twist. “Our family customers mainly buy the Yoto Audio Player, which also has a lot of cat-themed audiobooks,” Marc says.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused significant issues and delays. That's why Katzenworld introduced a pre-order system. It allows people to pre-order items with uncertain arrival times.The small business also had to cater to delays and shortages by boosting its stock.
Katzenworld has an in-house affiliate program. “It rewards customers, friends, and websites for referring their friends and followers to us. They will receive either 5% back in cash or 10% store credit,” Marc says.
Katzenworld is sponsored by Almo Nature, Pet Remedy, etc. They have helped Katzenworld travel around the world.“Pre-pandemic, we also attended all the major U.K. pet events, such as Catfest London and the National Pet Show," Marc says. "The events are a great place to meet new people and build connections as well as find out about the latest pet trends."
While its events have been tabled because of coronavirus, Katzenworld is currently working on merchandise with its own in-house designs. The U.K.-based company has also started its own pet PR service.
“Having received so many irrelevant press releases from PR companies or worse a PR agency forgetting to send us content relevant to pets, we realized there was a big gap in the PR world. So we decided to use our connections to relevant pet bloggers to enable small and medium pet businesses to reach the audience that is relevant for them,” Marc says.
“In my opinion, our coolest project was an automatic litter box. This addresses the major issue cat guardians have — cleaning the litter box daily.”
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