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Artful Designs: Square Paws Brings Beauty, Fun to a Cat’s Environment

By Pet Age Staff//April 30, 2024//

Artful Designs: Square Paws Brings Beauty, Fun to a Cat’s Environment

By: Pet Age Staff//April 30, 2024//

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Mario Arbore, the founder of Square Paws, is an architect with more than 30 years of experience, both commercial and residential. He founded Arbore Design, an architectural practice that was created in 2000 in the heart of New York City.

Pet Are recently spoke with Arbore to learn how his interest in various building typologies and iconic everyday elements, coupled with a love for art and color, sparks his imagination in the brand’s unique cat creations.


How has your background as an architect impacted your Square Paws product designs?

As an architect, I am always conscious of structure, proportion, and aesthetic appeal, and I use these disciplines to design everything we produce at Square Paws, from the largest cat towers to the smallest items like scratchpads.

I started out by making cat towers for my own cats, and I asked myself, “What could I express as an architect in this genre of pet products?” After taking notes and dimensions of where my cats would jump, sleep and scratch, I began with a lighthouse design, thinking it was an ideal representation of a cat’s need to climb and sleep up high. The lighthouse is also an iconic element for the home and soon became a conversation piece, whereas most cat towers are items that rarely contribute to the interior decor. Once I saw my own cats’ approval of the lighthouse, the designs began pouring out of me after that.


What is the best way to describe the Square Paws product line?

Artisan-crafted and custom-designed are the best terms to describe the Square Paws brand. We take an artistic approach to cat furniture creation.  From the macro view of our items to the littlest details, we pay attention to it all.

Case in point: we had a repeat client request that we make a two-tiered “treasure chest” cat bed and a custom scratching post for her three Savannah cats. For the scratch post, she wanted the top to emulate a golden phoenix head from a stair balustrade of a video game she loved from years ago. We were able to take images she sent us of the phoenix and hand-carve a replica that came very close to the video game image. She was ecstatic about both items, and her cats took to both items right away, which is a real joy for us.

We know that custom cat trees can be pricey, which is why we’ve started offering DIY blueprint “kits” for our most popular items, like the Catmas Tree and the Lifeguard Cat Chair.  And the Endless Buffet is the first in a line of unique scratchpads. And, as our first offering in that line, it’s received rave reviews from humans and felines alike, which gives us such encouragement that we’re on the right track.


How do sustainability and material choice play a vital role in Square Paws?

We look at sustainability as contextual. “Sustainable” meaning eco-friendly comes into play in our scratchpad designs, like the Endless Buffet product where our manufacturer sources material from responsibly forested land and that has a net-positive impact on the environment. We use a minimum of glue on that product, and they’re made in the U.S.A., so there isn’t the environmental detriment of container shipments from overseas involved.

“Sustainable” meaning durable and long-lasting comes into play with material choice for cat towers and for custom cat-habitats we create (catios, cat cafes and shelters). We use plywood and solid wood mostly, never particleboard or MDF, which are filled with glues and toxins. Most of the carpet we use is nylon, not polyethylene, so the color and fiber last longer than other cat trees. And we use marine-grade paint (made for boats) for items that we build for cat cafes and shelters where harsh chemical detergents are often used to kill outbreaks of cat viruses and bacteria.

We also choose colors and finishes that fit the client’s needs and aesthetics. Our work ranges from the serious and sober to the whimsical and humorous, and our finishes are tailored to work with each design specifically. Suffice it to say, we look at the term sustainable in everything we do.


What kind of relationship can a retailer who carries Square Paws expect from you?

Retailers that carry our products can count on high-quality products that are strong and beloved by cats. Whether they’re selling our scratchpads, displaying a cat tree on consignment or connecting their customers with a custom cat-furniture builder for a commission, they can rely upon us to grow their businesses and to be endeared and valued by their clientele.