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February 24, 2016

According to a recent survey by Nestlé Purina, over half of all millennial respondents (those in the age range of 18-34) stated that they have cats. In fact, 57 percent of millennials believe that their cat is as important to them as their friends, and two out of five say their cat is their “best friend.”

This provides a unique opportunity to retailers, particularly in the area of cat beds. Our crepuscular cats snooze their days away, with the average feline sleeping 12 to16 hours each day. That makes finding a bed that their cat approves a priority among cat owners.

While big box stores still prefer larger vendors with multiple SKUs, smaller retailers can take advantage of the opportunity to differentiate by carrying smaller, more stylish brands. Beds are becoming a priority for cat owners, but retailers often have challenges in finding enough floor space for bulky beds. Manufacturers have taken this problem to heart and are focused on providing store-friendly packaging. New packaging solutions for bulky beds, collapsible beds and easier to stack cartons allow smaller retailers to carry a wider selection.

Two for One

Manufacturers have mastered the art of creative design with thoughtful multi-purpose beds. No matter where a cat prefers to lounge, there is an option available for them that will fit the style of any home, office or outdoor enclosure. Many cat beds even double as carriers, which make trips to the veterinarian much more comfortable for both animal and human.

“The advantage of a mobile pet bed is that a cat will be in its own bed on short trips to the vet or on longer trips away from home, thereby helping to reduce anxiety,” said Michael Leung, co-owner of Sleepypod. “Our carriers are everyday pet beds designed to be used at home and on the go. When cats use Sleepypod beds and carriers at home, they become acclimated to the bed that transforms into a carrier. Since a pet is traveling in its own bed, travel is easier and less stressful. Also, the quality of the materials are the best in the industry. Sleepypod uses ballistic nylon for durability, tear resistant mesh, and ultra-plush bedding.”

NekoChan, home of the popular NekoFlies cat toy, recently introduced Cat Nappers to their line of products. These luxurious napping spots cater to the cat that prefers to burrow into a chic “sleeping bag” (complete with ears and a tail) or a collapsible pet house.

“Cats are naturally attracted to the soft, plushier types of fabric,” said Ellen Tsyuaki, founder of NekoFlies. “Our houses are quite versatile—you can unzip the roof and use that as a secondary sleeping pad folds flat—for storage or travel big enough to stretch out if they need to. I think cats enjoy houses, as they are places where they can have a hiding spot to view what is going on, sleep in different locations and offers them a sense of protection from the outside. They can also stalk prey passing in front of the opening or just enjoy cuddling in more confined spaces for their nap.”

Innovation Never Sleeps

As owners become more educated on their felines’ individual personalities, they understand that some cats have specific preferences for beds. Whether that be a simple cardboard box or an extravagant tree or a plush bed, this is how design meets function.

Cat Crib Cat Hammocks are space savers for those who reside in small areas. The innovative hammock attaches to the legs of any existing chair, saving floor space and creating a secret sleeping area for cats. The simple packaging and design make it easy for retailers of any size to stock them.

When it comes to aesthetics and creating a beautiful display in your adoption area or storefronts, the Pet Tree House is the most obvious choice. The addition of the new self-assembled KIT-TY trees have helped sales boom.

“The KIT-TY Trees have all the great features like the plush, removable carpet, the removable silk foliage, and the great smelling cedar,” said Joe DelRocco, co-founder of Pet Tree House. “The new KIT-TY Trees are just as heavy, stable and beautiful as our famous Sycamore Tree but at a fraction of the cost.”

Durability is also a concern among cat owners—particularly those who allow their cats to be outdoors or who care for feral cats.

“Our cat beds are unique because they’re designed for inside and outside use, whereas many other brands focus on indoor cats,” said Pascale Duffieux-Pierce, executive vice president of Brinsea. “The KatKabin has a weatherproof shell to keep outdoor or feral cats dry and cozy in adverse weather, as well as shaded in the summer. The unique dome shape makes it easy to hide in bushes, which cats love, and the removable cat door gives them an extra feeling of security while simultaneously blocking wind and weather. Our SkratchKabin is a great indoor activity center because it’s a scratcher and lounge in one, which is a big hit with consumers.”

“Ultimately, we want to provide a safe getaway for cats,” Duffieux-Pierce said. “But if it’s not comfortable for the cats, they won’t go in it for the protection in the first place.”

A recent acquisition of National Consumers Outdoors Corp by Central Garden & Pet has led to the company’s entry into the bedding category.

“We are excited to acquire the industry-leading dog and cat bedding company,” said John Ranelli, CEO and president of Central Garden & Pet.  “Bedding is the fifth largest category in dog and cat supplies and is growing at a healthy rate. The acquisition fits right into our strategy of building a portfolio of growing businesses and categories, and is a strong complement to Central’s current broad portfolio of pet products.”

Self-warming beds, such as those available from New Age Pet, are growing in popularity. Their new ThermoCore technology utilizes the body heat from your cat to keep them warm with no electricity, batteries or harmful chemicals. A wide variety of designs is the earmark of ecoFLEX, which is made from a blend of recycled polymers and wood byproducts. EcoFLEX is a durable, naturally insect and rot-resistant, and very easy to clean material.

For a more conservative style that meshes with any decor, the Kathy Ireland Loved Ones collection from Worldwise lends a classic style.

“The line includes a collection of stylish, modular cat furniture that satisfies your cat’s natural needs by providing places for them to scratch, play, groom, stretch and rest,” said Aimee Diskin, director of innovation product development for Worldwise. “With innovative designs inspired by home décor trends, these elegant pieces work perfectly on their own, but can also be combined to create a stylish activity center for your cat.”

As our feline friends gain a larger section of the pet market, it is more important than ever for retailers to carry a selection of cat beds for both indoor house cats and outdoor enclosures. They will find that high quality cat houses, beautifully designed and sourced from environmentally friendly materials, are in high demand.

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