Helping drive this trend is a slew of eco-friendly products that work to reduce the feline carbon paw print and generally befriend the environment.
Litters That Litter Less
Litter leads this category as more companies vie for space in the eco-friendly, biodegradable line-up in the litter aisle.
“More than ever, consumers and retailers are seeking out eco-friendly pet product solutions that still provide high performance and exceptional care for our cats,” said Jane Wasley, ökocat brand manager for Healthy Pet the company that manufactures this new product line. “We believe that our four formulas of ökocat natural cat litter not only offer superior odor control and absorption, but also a cleaner, more sustainable alternative to clay.”
The new ökocat litter line-up includes the Natural Wood Clumping Litter with seven-day odor control, and absorption that is able to hold 500 percent its weight in liquid. The Natural Wood Long Hair Clumping variety is specially designed for long- haired cat breeds that tend to get cat litter stuck in their fur. The Natural Wood Pine Litter relies on the natural smell of fresh pine to destroy ammonia odors for up to seven days and the Natural Paper Dust-Free Litter has been created for cats with respiratory ailments or people with allergies.
According to research into the natural litter market conducted by Healthy Pet, formerly Absorption Corporation, natural litters currently hold 10 percent market share against clay litter and continue to grow.
Focusing in on pet specialty stores, this category offers retailers the opportunity to trade up their customer, as the annual clay litter purchase is $40 versus $100 in natural litter products and, the survey also indicated that such customers are also willing to pay 20 percent more for other eco-friendly products that meet key attributes that are important to them.
Beds are becoming another big eco-friendly category as companies look to recycled plastic bottles and hangers to create “green” fillers for pet beds. Several years ago, Worldwise Inc. structured a deal with Walmart whereby the retail giant forwarded all their discarded plastics to the company and they then re-emerged on pet retail store shelves in the form of pet beds filled with Worldwise’s trademarked EcoRest filler.
Similarly, recycled corrugated cardboard has been a boon for the eco-friendly cat industry.
“Recycled cardboard is a cheap and easily available material,” said Fred Silber, chief executive officer for Enchanted Home Pet that makes a range of corrugated cardboard cat furniture that doubles up as both scratching pads and snooze zones. “One of the reasons it’s so successful is that it replicates natural bark which cats are intuitively drawn to in order to scratch.”
Cardboard, combined with the feline love for boxes, brings Catty Stacks into the eco-friendly mix. These specially designed boxes are made from industrial strength recycled corrugated Ultraboard, which is colored with nontoxic vegetable-based inks. The boxes link to each other to form a stable structure and can be easily moved and rearranged, helping maintain feline interest.
A similar product from Quaker Pet Group under their Supercat brand is the Kitty Condo, a system that links huts with tubes to amp up the feline fun.
“Its a customizable system that allows pet parents to create play areas of any shape and size to fit a home space that is small to large,” said Cristen Underwood, the company’s marketing director. “The system also works with the Supercat catnip infused stickers that can be applied to the condo construction.”
In the cat collar aisle, Petmate has a new eco-friendly collar. The webbing is made from 100-percent recycled plastic bottles and the packaging is recycled cardboard.
When it comes to toys, recycled cotton is becoming a popular “fabric” that can be dyed with non-toxic vegetable dyes and stuffed with eco-friendly catnip.
Recently, Worldwise Inc. doubled its popular Petlinks organic catnip toy line. The new products – namely Pudgy Pals, Crinkle Buddy and the Bug Catch – contain only leaves and blossoms with no inert fills.
“This makes it exceptionally potent and ideal for attracting and stimulating those crazy felines,” said Kevin Fick, the company’s chief operating officer.
From The Field, an eco-friendly cat toy company based in Seattle, uses hemp for their catnip toy products. Their newest toy is a pillow filled with a mix of catnip and silver vine, a plant that is popular in Asia with similar stimulating effects to catnip.