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April 1, 2016

Eighty-eight percent of all cat owners surveyed do not give their pets vitamins or supplements. That’s according to the 2015-2016 National Pet Owners’ Survey published by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). This definitely leaves the door open for pet specialty retailers to start the conversation with their customers and grow the category.

“Supplements are vital to the feline diet because our cats are so far removed from a truly authentic and natural species appropriate diet,” said Heidi Nevala, president of Natura Petz. “Even the very best foods we feed our cats cannot mimic raw nutrition, and most cats are fed dry kibble, which cannot replicate the health benefits they would obtain from live prey, such as connective tissues, and primary and secondary metabolites, all of which play a critical role in delivering truly balanced nutrition to our cats.”

“Additionally, kibble and canned food usually contain processed meats and synthesized vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fatty acids that do not necessarily metabolize and assimilate in our cat’s bodies appropriately,” Nevala said. “Adding in supplements helps create a stopgap and a bridge between nutritional deficiencies and unknown diseases and conditions that are commonly experienced.”

Go With the Flow

Natura Petz sources their ingredients from the rich biosphere of the Amazon rainforest and offers a large selection of feline products. Their Break It Up is formulated to address stones and urinary infections. Cats Love Suma is a nutritional meal topper designed to be used for all aspects of feline health: to help boost immunity, balance body systems, enhance energy, protect against cellular mutations and support healthy pancreatic function.

Recently, the company introduced their Urinary Tract Infection Starter Pack designed for short term use to help address commonly experienced bladder and kidney infections and related pain. It can also be used long-term to attempt to break up chronic UTI cycles.

Veterinarian Chris Bessent of Herbsmith, Inc., concurred with Nevala about feline bladder issues.

“I think bladder care along with joint support are the most important issues for cats today,” Bessent said. “One of our most important products for cats is our herbal formula called Herbsmith Bladder Care. Most cats receive nutrition that is relatively high in carbohydrates (for a carnivore), which sets up an inflammatory environment in the body. In cats, that inflammation is often reflected in bladder issues such as recurrent bladder infections or inflammation and bladder crystals and stones.”

“Supporting bladder health by maintaining normal function of the urinary tract is key to developing the proper urinary environment,” Bessent said. “Bladder Care helps maintain a normal pH, which may reduce the likelihood of crystal and stone formation. Herbsmith Bladder Care contains cooling and draining herbs that help to balance the bladder and maintain a proper urinary environment. Cranberry extract and d-mannose help to protect and support the bladder wall.”

Bessent said that apart from bladder issues, joint issues stem from the need for additional glucosamine ingredients in the daily diet.

Picking Solutions for Picky Eaters

According to Tabitha Cromer, associate product manager for Tomlyn, hairballs continue to be the number one issue addressed by the company’s product line-up.

“Our hairball remedy called Laxatone is available in a gel and chew form,” Cromer said.

“However, there has been growing interest from consumers for products in the behavior category. We have a Relax and Calm chew that helps to calm pets naturally.”

According to Cromer, Tomlyn was the first supplement manufacturer to bring to market a product for sick or picky eaters to promote a healthy appetite nearly four decades ago.

Currently, there is the Tomlyn Nutri-Cal High Calorie Nutritional Supplement for adult cats and the Tomlyn Nutri-Cal High-Calorie Dietary Kitten Supplement.

“It’s a tasty gel that supports a healthy appetite and is a concentrated source of vitamins and minerals, ideal for sick or choosy eaters,” Cromer said. “While veterinarians often prescribe it, it is also available over the counter and is sold in specialty stores nationwide.”

According to Tony Lewis, head of product innovation at RPG Innovations, which is behind the Vet’s Best line of supplements, the company has new cat supplements “in the works” to add to the current lineup that includes their popular Hairball Relief Digestive Aid and Urinary Tract Support supplements.

“Vet’s Best supplements for both dogs and cats were originally formulated by a veterinarian,” Lewis said. “While we have always marketed our products for dogs and cats, many people consider supplements to be ‘a dog thing.’ But fortunately, we’ve seen growing awareness amongst cat owners, too. In fact, both our Hairball Relief Digestive Aid and Urinary Tract Support supplements for cats now rank amongst our top sellers.”

“Our tablets are very palatable and accepted and chewed by many cats,” he said. “For finicky cats that refuse to chew tablets, they can be crumbled and added to their food.”

Selling Supplements

Product placement in a store is key to a product’s sales performance.

“Profiling brands together helps create better merchandising on the shelf,” Cromer said. “End-caps are great and so are counter displays. We just created a POP counter display for our retailers to use that includes our appetite-enhancing products as well as the Laxatone gels.”

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