Hairballs: cat owners know only too well problems regarding ingested hair and its subsequent projectile ejection around the home as well as any medical issues that can ensue.
Although National Hairball Awareness Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, every day is hairball day in many feline households due to the fact that indoor cats are exposed to more artificial light, which promotes shedding. And this is something on which retailers can definitely capitalize.
Products dealing with hairball issues span several feline categories and lend themselves to successful cross-promotion in store. A perfect example is product placement in the food and treat aisle as well as in the grooming department.
There are several cat food formulas specifically focused on the hairball issue.
Royal Canin’s over-the-counter formula is Indoor Intense Hairball formula.
“It’s our top formula for cats who have hairball issues,” said Brent Mayabb, vice president of corporate affairs for Royal Canin. “In fact, all our feline formulas address hairballs, even if we don’t list it as a specific feature on the packaging.”
The company also has taken care of the problem in some of it’s breed-centric formulas such as the food for Persian cats as this breed has a unique coat.
CANIDAE has been promoting its farm-to-table food experience for pets with the announcement that the company now has its own farms in Kansas to grow and harvest its own fresh produce for their recipes.
CANIDAE Grain-Free Pure Control is a hairball control recipe made with fresh chicken as the first ingredient and formulated for cats with sensitive stomachs to aid their daily digestion.
“This recipe is ideal for cats with hairball issues and the one in our lineup that we recommend,” said Scott Whipple, co-founder of the company.
Since discontinuing the feline Trufood recipes, WellPet has introduced a formula to target hairballs called Wellness Natural Hairball Control. This vet-formulated chicken meal and rice recipe is scientifically proven to help manage hairballs, as the formula features a special natural fiber blend that helps move swallowed hair and already-formed hairballs through a cat’s digestive system.
“Our natural ingredients and unique supplements provide whole-body nutritional support in the tastiest and healthiest way possible,” said Chanda Leary-Coutu, director of consumer experience and marketing.
Apart from treats and foods, there are a growing selection of hairball supplements and gels that once again can be placed in different places within the store apart from the supplement/treatment shelf.
NaturVet’s Hairball Aid plus pumpkin is a soft chew suitable for all cats over the age of 12 weeks. It’s a preventative and also helps cats digest any hair they may have already ingested. NaturVet’s Natural Hairball Aid Cat Gel, which is petroleum–free and catnip flavored, is a practical solution because a little can be placed on a paw or along the jaw line for cats to lick off themselves.
Grooming plays a really important role in hairball control because, although cats are efficient self-groomers, regular brushing can drastically reduce the amount of hair ingested on a regular basis.
The Catit Design Senses Massage Center 2.0, which is part of the Catit interactive cat products line from Rolf C. Hagen, Inc., is a self-grooming rubber massage unit that appeals to a cat’s sense of touch by offering a variety of textures for cats to rub up against. The ripple massager provides intense rubbing pleasure to head, neck and facial areas, and the body stroke groomers are designed to offer easy-access and an intense massage to the cat as it rubs against it, removing loose hair in the process. The product comes with a sachet of catnip to initially help attract a cat to the product.
While cats are efficient self-groomers, there is no question that many cats need additional grooming help as they age and are not flexible enough to reach their nether regions.
Although Clark Feed and Seed in Bellingham, Washington, doesn’t have an in-store grooming salon, it has a large selection of grooming tools for home use including the Eazee by Foolee Click & Brush de-shedding tool and attachable grooming accessories. This system has been available in Europe for some time and is now widely available in the United States.
“I have been recommending it to cat owners and been getting excellent feedback,” said Sarah Fisken, the store’s manager. “People prefer the plastic teeth of the de-shedder over other metal tools that can be harsh on a cat’s skin and fur. The massage brush is also very popular as a separate purchase to attach to the handle.”
Debuting the grooming tools to retailers at SuperZoo in July, Eddy Cathaud, CEO of the company, explained that his design features rounded teeth on the de-shedder that are specially designed to only remove 100 percent dead, loose hair and no live hair.
“As its name proclaims, the Eazee tool was designed to be a home grooming tool that’s both comfortable and convenient to use,” he said. “The additional grooming options such as a comb and a massage brush simply clip on, making it a very versatile performer.”
The handle of the grooming tool is available in six bright fashion colors.
Specially formulated cat wipes do double duty because, apart from removing any dust and detritus from the fur, they also remove any loose hair and prevent it from being ingested. Quick Bath Cat Wipes, manufactured by International Veterinary Sciences (IVS), are pH-neutral and alcohol-free so that they can be used frequently without drying out the skin and are suitable to be used on young cats as well as seniors to remain hairball-free.
A Natural Solution
Some cats like to nibble on grass for pure enjoyment while others use grasses to aid their digestion and help regurgitate hairballs.
The Catit Design Senses Grass Garden Kit is also part of the Catit interactive play line and offers felines a mixture of wheat and barley grasses to munch on.
The Wood Planter from Pioneer Pets is a buffet of green nibbles consisting of oats, wheat, rye and barley seeds that germinate in four to six days.
“The frame is sturdy to prevent cats from knocking it over,” explained Shannon Supanich, director of marketing for Pioneer Pets. “And there are refills to ensure that cats are never without their greens.”
Pioneer Pets also manufactures attractive little ceramic containers of wheat grass that make ideal gifts sold year-round.
“They can be placed anywhere in a store to garner attention but we always suggest the food section and of course a counter near a register,” Supanich added.