It is said that cats have nine lives, but we know this is not true. Each cat, of course, has one life—and it is important to ensure that cats live a healthy and balanced lifestyle so that their life is a full and happy one.
“Cats, in general, are being more recognized as valued members of people’s families,” said Alyssa Guertin of Pet Ag, maker of nutritional, grooming and health products.
In accordance with this belief, more so than ever before, cat owners are seeking products that can help enhance their cat’s life.
“Customers are looking to improve the quality of their lives as well as their cats,” said Vince Fahringer, manager of Dogs & Cats Rule in Princeton, New Jersey. “We’re seeing a big increase in customers coming in saying, ‘I want to do better.’ ”
With more people considering cats to be a member of their family, and with an increase in attention paid to cats’ health, there also happens to be a growth in the number of cat owners. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) 2015-2016 National Pet Owner Survey, nearly 43 million households own a cat, meaning 35 percent of all U.S. households have a cat. Compare that to 2010’s numbers, which showed 33 percent of U.S. households owning a cat. Going back to 1994, 30 percent of U.S. households owned a cat. Cat ownership in America continues to show a steady upward trend.
On average, a person will stay a cat owner for about 17.3 years. This number has actually declined from 2012, when cat owners were shown to be so for 18.7 years. However, APPA says this can be attributed to the fact that there are now more new cat owners. With more owners than ever before, and with an ownership period of almost two decades, it is clear that cat owners will need to visit pet stores quite a lot to stock up on some needed items.
In fact, the nation’s pet-owning households make approximately 1.2 billion trips to the store for their pets every year, according to a new report from The Cambridge Group.
As the research shows, more and more people will need to start buying products for their cats to ensure each cat is in good spirits and health. So while cats don’t have nine lives, here are nine types of products pet retailers should keep in stock to help felines in living a healthy life.
Toys can help cats stay active and keep their minds sharp. And there are plenty of types of toys to help accomplish this.
Ethical Products, Inc., is finding that “interactive toys that promote bonding between the cat and parent continue to be best sellers,” according to Susan McCann, the company’s national marketing manager.
“We offer a variety of interactive toys, such as wand toys, remote control toys and laser toys that encourage owners to play along with their cat,” McCann said in an email. “…In 2017 we will continue to see a trend in interactive cat toys. The human/pet bond is stronger than ever, so the development of toys that promote this bond is critical.”
Fahringer says he sees a growing interest in mechanical toys among his store’s cat-owning customers as well.
According to its co-owner Stan Sheremeta, Kooky Kittens’ goal is “to provide cats and their owners with products that can ensure both are having the greatest time of their lives.”
Kooky Kittens is trying to reach this goal by being one of the companies that offers electronic cat toys. The company’s 360 Laser “emits a laser beam that circles around the room for your cat to
“Just turn it on, choose your setting and watch your cat have countless hours of fun,” the company’s site says.
According to Fahringer, while a low-end feather toy that owners replace every so often can cost anywhere from $4 to $10, an electronic toy can cost a bit more. Though pricier, it is the mechanical toys in which Dogs & Cats is finding many of its customers are looking to invest, with Fahringer saying that the $29.99 price point seems to be the highest price most of his customers are willing to pay for a toy.
Along with the emerging trend of electronic toys, “toys with catnip inside are always a great seller, too,” McCann said.
“Catnip-filled toys are very appealing to cats, with the scent creating a euphoria resulting in rolling, licking and playful pouncing,” she added.
Though not filled with catnip, European-made Bavarian Cat Toys tries to accomplish a similar response through its use of valerian. Now available in North America, Bavarian Cat Toys’ products are enticing to cats because of what the toy is filled with. According to the company’s site, the toys feature “Bavarian-grown ingredients such as valerian, lavender and anise,” and are hand-crafted in Germany.
To remain ahead of the curve, Ethical Products relies “heavily on consumer and retailer feedback about our product line when developing new toys.”
“This feedback is invaluable to us and our product development team designs toys that match the ideas and requests we’ve received,” McCann said. “We pride ourselves on providing toys that meet the demand of consumers.”
To ensure cat toy sales success, McCann suggests pet retailers provide a diverse selection of toys.
“Retailers should carefully plan their assortment to offer the most variety without duplication—this will appeal to a wide range of consumer preferences,” McCann said. “Ethical is very progressive in offering retailers merchandising tools to assist in the sell thru of our products. We participate in distributor open houses where we have the opportunity to talk with the retailers about what their customers are looking for in the cat toy category. This information is invaluable to us and plays a critical role in the development of our cat toy line. [The year] 2017 will see many new cat toys that were designed based on the information we gathered from retailers, and we are excited about one of our largest cat toy launches.”
Dogs & Cats Rule has found success in selling cat toys through open displays so that customers can see how the toy works.
“We go through a lot of batteries around here,” Fahringer said. “If it’s just in a normal box sitting on a shelf, it doesn’t sell itself, so these companies are getting smarter and giving us demo pieces that we can use.”
For obvious reasons, food is important for a pet retailer to stock. Cat food is something that a cat needs to eat on a daily basis, which means it is a product that a cat owner must continually replenish.
According to Megan Trombley, manager of Urban Tails Pet Supplies in Minneapolis, Minnesota, food is the item that most of her cat-owning customers go in looking for. And because the store specializes in nutrition, many customers want help finding a food that will help with a specific issue the cat is experiencing.
“Wholesome, nutritional, void of hard chemicals, local foods are really important to us—and well-made foods that are sourced,” Trombley said. “We kind of look into the nitty gritty of what makes the food the food.”
Urban Tails is also seeing a rise in the popularity of raw food because of its back-to-basics quality, according to Trombley, as is Dogs & Cats Rule.
Dr. B’s Longevity Raw Pet Food is one company that focuses on this type of food. Dr. B’s “premium raw pet food is made in small batches with the finest pastured, grass-fed, local and organic ingredients,” the company said.
Primal Pet Foods is another manufacturer of raw foods. The company “was founded with the goal of improving the quality of life and overall health and happiness of pets through wholesome raw foods that mimic the diet of animals in the wild,” according to Primal Pet Food’s website.
According to APPA, 17 percent of cats are obese or overweight. Food is a key factor in maintaining a healthy weight, and with 42 percent of cat owners reportedly buying premium cat food, it seems like they understand this important correlation. The percentage of owners feeding their cats natural food has also increased—from 14 percent in 2012 to 19 percent in 2014.
Fromm, maker of artisan pet food, has an easy-to use guide on its website that allows customers to plug in information about its cats, including their age and activity level. Based on those answers, Fromm gives a list of recommended products. For example, after entering into the site’s entry forms that a 6-year-old cat is overweight, Fromm presents four recommended food options, including its Beef Liváttini Veg for dry food. If retailers have customers looking for a food to help with a certain health factor, they can turn to Fromm’s website for help.
When deciding which type of food to stock, Trombley says Urban Tails sees if it fits with the company’s mission of providing nutritious food to its customers.
“We want to keep everything fresh and new in our store… It piques our interest when [company representatives] come in and their product goes with what we like,” she said. “So if something that goes with the way we do things—wholesome, nutritional, natural—and if it’s something different that the big box stores don’t carry, we’re super interested in it as well just because it draws people to have that stuff around.”
Though the company does not make food, PetSafe recognizes the growing trend of healthier food and thinks this goes hand-in-hand with its products.
“[Health-focused products, such as food] pair really well with some of the products that we do make, such as our automatic feeders, which can help regulate food intake, and our pet fountains, which promote a healthy level of hydration,” said Ryan Anderson, category manager for PetSafe.
3. Feeders and Waterers
According to APPA statistics, 95 percent of cat owners have a bowl for their pet—an increase of five percentage points from 2012. And when selecting a bowl to purchase, the two most important features owners look for is the height and price of the bowl, APPA says.
Cats Rule offers a line of elevated food bowls. Its heart-shaped food bowl is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also helps to have the bowl be “perfectly sized for your cat’s whiskers, as he senses how deep the cat dish is and where the food is,” according to the company’s site.
The SureFlap Sealed Pet Bowl is a high-tech feeder with an aim to keep food fresh. The feeder has a lid that has a motion-activated opening. When the pet is done eating, the lid closes, ensuring that the food does not dry up, stink up the house or have unwelcomed bugs going on it as the pet grazes throughout the day.
According to Fahringer, many of his customers enter Dogs & Cats Rule looking for products to help subside cat vomiting, and they often turn to slow bowl feeders for this purpose.
One of the feeder items that has become a big hit in Fahringer’s store is the No Bowl Feeding System, which plays on the cats’ hunting instinct by encouraging them to forage for their food. With the No Bowl Feeding System, food is placed in portion-controlled, mouse-shaped NoBowls and then hidden around the house.
“For cats, it’s about the thrill of the hunt, and so it increases their serotonin—it’s what cats thrive on,” Fahringer said. “I have some customers that hide them in shoe boxes in the closet and cats find them. They truly do have to hunt for their food.”
Keeping cats properly hydrated is also important. Cats Rule has a Watering Hole Automatic Fresh Water Fountain to ensure felines have the best water possible. The “continuous flow of fresh, filtered water” streams from an ornamental frog’s mouth, encouraging cats to drink throughout the day, avoiding dehydration.
Our Pets makes a high-tech waterer called the SmartLink Waterer Intelligent Water Fountain. According to the Our Pets website, the waterer has a Bluetooth health monitoring system that tracks a cat’s water intake. The system also maintains the ideal water temperature for drinking, filters impurities for cleaner drinking water and alerts the owner when the water reservoir level is low.
Cat litter is more than just a necessity—it’s actually a big reason why domesticated cats live the lives they do today, according to George Eigenhauser from The Cat Fancier’s Association.
“In the middle of the 20th century, a new product hit store shelves: commercial cat litter. Before litter box filler became available, cat owners had to rely on ashes, sand or plain dirt,” Eigenhauser said in an email. “Many cat owners simply allowed the cat outdoors to do their business. Cat box filler was just the first of many products to keep cats indoors.”
The product that helped felines become indoor cats now has many options from which to choose.
Dogs & Cats Rule has “seen a big spike in people looking for better litter,” Fahringer said, including those that have a dustless formula, those that are all-natural or compostable, or those that are grass- or corn-based.
sWheat Scoop is a litter that is based from 100 percent wheat.
“When the wheat is ground, the manufacturing process exposes starch and enzymes that contribute to the sWheatness of our product,” sWheat Scoop’s website says. “The 100 percent biodegradable wheat enzymes neutralize the odor while the starch helps with clumping. So, with wheat, we have managed to make life better for cats, people and the planet.”
Made from pure sodium bentonite, Canada Litter says its “fine granulation bentonite reminds cats of their natural environment.”
According to its website, Canada Litter has an “absorption capacity of 350 percent (3.5 times its own weight).”
With 92 percent of cat owners having their cats use a litter box, kitty litter is another product that cat owners will have to consistently replenish in order to keep their cats’ eliminating environment a healthy, bacteria-free one.
5. Health Products
All the types of products on this list help a cat in living a healthy life, including these health products. Though a broad category, there are many types of issues cats can face in their lifetimes—from needing to be rid of fleas and ticks to wanting to ease joint pain as a cat ages—that would warrant a cat owner to purchase a health-related product.
Pet Ag aims to create products to better cats’ quality of health.
“We choose to focus in the cat arena because there are very specific needs that cat owners demand and so we feel that’s a niche area of the market that we can deliver what those expectations are,” Guertin said.
According to Guertin, Pet Ag’s hairball remedy and milk replacement products are two of the most popular. Its Cat-Sip Real Milk Treat is a newer product, and one that the company is excited about, for it helps solve a couple of health problems facing cats, including lack of hydration.
“Cat-Sip is made from Grade A low-fat milk that’s 99 percent lactose-free, making it easier to digest for cats and kittens,” according to the Pet Ag website.
Guertin also points out that because cats are living longer, more owners are looking for products that will help support their aging cats’ needs.
“Another area we’re looking at talking to our senior cat audience about is launching a high calorie gel that has a high protein calorie source,” Guertin said. “Senior cats’ muscles tend to [deteriorate], so they need high quality protein sources to help maintain their overall condition. We’re really looking at what people are telling us: ‘I have an older cat. What should I give him or her in addition to the food I’m feeding to make sure they’re getting a really good quality of life or expansion of the lifespan?’”
The percentage of cat owners who buy flea and tick products for their cats is at 40 percent, a number that has been stable for at least the past 10 years.
Ceva Animal Health, LLC, is one company that makes a flea and tick preventative specifically for cats. Catego is a topical parasiticide that “kills fleas within six hours and, on the day of application, achieves a 97 percent efficacy within three hours,” according to the company’s website.
“Ceva Animal Health is committed to introducing innovative new products for pets. We are especially pleased to expand our product offerings in the underserved feline market,” Ceva An
imal Health CEO Craig Wallace said in a company press release.
There are plenty of products to offer customers to supplement their cat’s routine diet and exercise. Whether cats require support with their urinary tract, respiratory system, eyes or just about anything else, there is a product that can help, and from chews, treats and sprays to tabs, foam and powder, there is sure to be a product that a pet store customers’ cats will easily take.
In Clover’s cat treats “are packed with tasty and beneficial nutrients formulated by feline health experts,” according to the company’s site. There are five types of treats available, including those that encourage urinary tract health and fitness support.
NaturVet also offers a slew of products—and it probably has what your customers have been looking for. From its Adult Vitamins Cat Soft Chews that have daily vitamins and minerals to help maintain overall health to its Aller-911 Skin & Coat Plus Advanced Allergy Powder that helps maintain proper skin moisture and respiratory health, the National Animal Supplement Council-recognized company has a product for virtually all health-related needs.
Retailers can expect more companies to expand their product offerings in the coming years as there is a continued increase in cats and the age to which they are living. Pet Ag is one of those companies that is looking to grow.
“What we’re looking forward to going into the future is expanding… and really going out and providing more solutions for cat owners based on new needs, new trends and really staying ahead of the curve with where the pet industry is going,” Guertin said. “It’s really exciting to have so many new entries into the industry, and quite frankly, the competition is fierce, but it’s something that challenges us to continue in our improvements and our new product development areas so we can continue to be relevant.”
6. Dental Products
According to Banfield Pet Hospital’s “State of Pet Health Report 2016,” the prevalence of dental disease in cats has risen over the last 10 years, with steady growth each year. Since the group’s initial report five years ago, dental disease in cats has increased by 9.6 percent. In all, 68 percent of cats are affected by dental disease.
Poor oral health can also lead to a deterioration of the cat’s overall health, and as more owners realize this, the demand for cat dental products will grow.
PetzLife, manufacturer of all-natural pet health products, makes a gel that can be used to clean a cat’s mouth.
According to its site, PetzLife’s Oral Care Gel is “specially formulated to eliminate plaque, remove tartar, reverse gum disease and freshen breath immediately.”
While the gel can be applied directly to the cat’s teeth and gums using fingers and wipes, PetzLife says the gel can also be applied to the top of a cat’s paw because the cat will lick off the gel.
Drs. Foster and Smith’s Daily Dental Treats for Cats will help in cleaning cats’ teeth and freshening breath. The hard texture helps scrape away plaque as the cat chews, and the treats come in chicken, salmon and tuna flavors.
There are also cat chews available, such as Virbac’s C.E.T. Dental Chews for Cats. These chews have “an abrasive texture from freeze-dried fish that helps clean your cat’s teeth with every bite,” according to the company’s website. The chews are available in either a fish or poultry flavor.
Cats spend quite a bit of the day sleeping (about 15 hours), and with cat beds being the most popular pet product that cats sleep in—APPA reports that 16 percent of owners said their cat sleeps in a cat bed—it is an item essential to a pet retailer.
Walking Palm is one company that manufacturers cat beds. Handmade in Nepal using wool from New Zealand, Walking Palm’s Cat Caves give cats a cozy space in which to retreat for a cat nap.
“Cats love to burrow, to play around, and they like soft surfaces, so it made sense to make something that was a round enclosure where they could hide and play,” Walking Palm co-founder Alonzo Guess said. “But at the same time, this is something that people are going to have in their homes, so we wanted to make it look nice and decorative, and that it would accent the personal style of their house and their décor. That’s why we have a lot of different colors.”
Guess, who founded the company with David Riggs, said the Cat Cave’s shape was initially born after noticing that cats like to burrow under owners’ bed sheets.
“Cats like rounded, cavernous enclosures—they certainly like to crawl inside cavernous areas,” Guess said. “We wanted to create something that had that same shape (of underneath the covers) but that was economical in terms of size so it wouldn’t be too big and in the way and where it would be big enough to fit their whole bodies in there and feel enclosed or comforted.”
Cat Caves are made of wool, which also means the beds are water-repellent. And according to Guess, cats especially like Cat Caves because of the lanolin embedded in the wool’s fibers.
“Lanolin is a sheep’s natural oil, which helps them maintain cleanliness… It’s got a natural scent that you and I can’t really detect because, as humans we don’t have the acute sense of smell that animals have, so cats are attracted to that smell; it makes them feel cozy and at home,” Guess said. “A lot of our customers are vets, doctors of animal science, and they know cats like the smell of wool for that reason.”
Walking Palm, which also creates felt toys for cats, started making Cat Caves a little over a year ago and has found success in partnering up with retailers. According to Guess, the company is “always trying to innovate and create new products to offer so that we have more of a selection to offer.”
APPA also saw a rise in the amount of owners who are buying specialty cat beds, such as those that are heated, cooled or have memory foam. This percentage has doubled from 2 percent in 2012 to 4 percent in 2014, meaning that about 3 million cats sleep in specialty beds.
For example, Drs. Foster and Smith’s Hiding Hut for Cats has a removable pad that is stuffed with chopped memory foam for what the company describes as “luxurious lounging.”
8. Grooming Products
According to APPA, nearly three quarters of cat owners have purchased a brush or other type of grooming tool for their cats. Of all grooming tools, brushes are the most popularly purchased item, with 81 percent of owners who have purchased a grooming product having bought a brush.
The BendiBrush by anipure is an example of a brush cat owners might use. The BendiBrush is effective on all pet sizes and fur types because the brush’s body and corners contour to the shape of the pet’s body. If a cat needs detangling, simply bend the brush; if a cat’s extra hair needs to be removed, keep the brush flat to remove shedding. The rounded bristle tips will also prevent scratching and injury.
Nail clippers and shedding blades are two cat
grooming products that have gained popularity over the years, with 36 percent of grooming-product-buying cat owners having purchased a nail clipper and 18 percent having purchased a shedding blade.
Petmate’s Aspen Pet makes the FurBuster Cat Nail Clipper. The clipper’s “stainless steel blade is durable and provides precision for properly trimmed nails. The ultra-sharp blade cuts through nails quickly and effortlessly,” according to the company’s site.
Petmate also offers a shedding blade with its JW brand GripSoft Cat Shedding Blade. JW says that the “tool is designed to keep fine textured and longhaired cats tangle- and mat-free. The Shedding Blade also aids in the reduction of shedding and hairball problems.”
Another way customers might want to de-shed their cat is with a glove, such as HandsOn Gloves. HandsOn Gloves can work wet or dry and easily accumulates hair. Available in a junior size, too, for smaller hands, HandsOn Gloves help massage and stimulate circulation, improving skin and coat, and are gentle to the touch on sensitive areas of the body.
According to APPA, 19 percent of cat owners own shampoo/conditioner for their cats. Pet Ag offers a line of shampoos that, while geared toward dogs, can also be used on cats. Guertin recommends using a shampoo with low fragrance levels “because cats are sensitive to certain ingredients in shampoos.”
For owners looking for a quick fix to a cat’s odor, Woofmints cologne might be able to do the trick. While also geared toward dogs, this natural spray cologne is safe to use on cats and will leave the felines smelling minty fresh. The cologne, which is made in the USA, will also moisturize and hydrate the cat’s coat.
9. Outdoor Items
A trend Urban Tails Pet Supplies is seeing is the want for owners to bring their cats outside. According to Trombley, more customers are going into the store looking for cat leashes and harnesses—especially as the Minnesota weather started to get warmer.
In fact, 18 percent of cat owners own a leash for their cat. And with 29 percent of millennials owning a cat leash—compared to 11 percent of baby boomers—it seems like the trend will only continue to grow. As for cat harnesses, 12 percent of cat owners own one of those.
Pet store owners can expect return customers every few years, too. Just under 40 percent of leash owners buy a leash once every five or more years while 35 percent purchase a new leash every two to four years.
Leather Brothers is one company that offers both leashes and harnesses for cats. Its lead comes in black, pink, blue and red, while its Figure 8 Harness is available in red, blue, black and neon pink.
Another way owners are looking to get their cat to experience the great outdoors is with a catio. Companies like Habitat Haven manufacture enclosed spaces—which have a wide range in sizing—that allow cats to safely explore the outdoors.
There are also the pet doors that enable cats to venture outside.
The Balcony Pets Apartment Pet Door drops into the tracks of a sliding glass door—no tools needed—and works with any height sliding glass door to allow a pet cat to freely enter and exit a home or apartment.
The Magnetic Cat Door from PetSafe allows a cat in and out of the house without letting strays in. “The magnetic key collar your cat wears ‘unlocks’ the flap so that only your cat has access to your home,” according to the company’s website.
While outside, the cats might enjoy the KatKabin, which is an outdoor cat house, providing a “shelter that provides your cat with all the warmth, comfort and safety it is used to indoors,” according to the company’s website.