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Cattitude! Pet Brands Share Their Insights on the Latest Trends in the Cat Care Sector

Glenn Polyn//April 30, 2024//

Cattitude! Pet Brands Share Their Insights on the Latest Trends in the Cat Care Sector

Glenn Polyn //April 30, 2024//

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Leaders in the cat sector are striving to create products that will satisfy the owner as much as the cat. Whether they are seeking a toy, food, treats or litter, cat parents are looking for products that can serve their cat’s needs during every stage of life development.

Pet parents differ widely with what and how they feed their cats, but there’s no denying that the strong demand from consumers for transparency in ingredients, meaning natural and fewer ingredients, with nutrition labels showcasing expanded benefits instead of additives or confusing ingredients.

Toys provide interactive entertainment for cats and their owners. And toys should not only maintain the bond between them but enhance it, providing them with play sessions that are endless, healthy and rewarding.

While supplements are specifically geared towards maintaining and improving a cat’s overall health, treats and chews are providing benefits that are important to the pet’s overall well-being. This includes oral hygiene, which traditionally is an overlooked health issue in cats.

Meanwhile, litter also plays a role in feline health. The act of cats using a litter box stems from ancestral roots, and recent innovations enable litter to help differentiate common behaviors from abnormal ones. Today’s litter products not only encourage and enhance a cat’s natural instincts, they also prevents pet parents from enduring undesirable odors.

Here are some insights from today’s leading pet brands on the topics of cat nutrition, toys and health and wellness.


ALPHIA: Alphia is a leading custom manufacturer of super-premium pet food in the U.S., manufacturing more than one billion pounds of dry pet food and treats annually. According to Kevin Taylor, Alphia’s VP of technical services, cats are renown for being picky eaters. That’s why Alphia conducts feeding studies to its diets are not only nutritionally complete but also delicious for cats.

Functional food has become a top priority at Alphia, as cat owners demand more nutritional choices to upgrade their pet’s food and support their overall health and well-being.

“Pet owners are focused on prioritizing their cats’ nutrition and are looking for foods that are targeted to address various health issues,” Taylor noted. “Functional cat foods are formulated with specific nutrients and ingredients in mind, offering a convenient way for pet owners to proactively support their cats’ health as they grow older. At Alphia, we have the ability to develop specialized cat formulas that cater to their specific needs and incorporate functional ingredients into these recipes.”


ANNAMAET: Annamaet designs feline formulas for all stages of a cat’s life and has passed the taste test of the world’s most finnicky cats. Its diets are formulated with marine microalgae, a stable and sustainable natural ingredient, which provides a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA for a wide range of benefits.

Annamaet founder Robert Downey says urinary tract health is an important issue to consider when it comes to nutrition. That Is why the brand’s feline formulas contain blueberries and cranberries, a powerful source of natural antioxidants to support urinary tract health, and they also contain proteinated (chelated) minerals to help support the immune system. Downey takes great pride In Annamaet being a family-owned and operated company that has provided optimum nutrition to cats for over 35 years.

“We have a similar approach to feline nutrition as we do with our dog foods; we do not compromise on quality and we strive to provide the best nutrition possible while preserving our natural resources,” he explained. “For example, before its first test batch, Annamaet Feline Sustain No.29 was reformulated 29 times by our two nutritionists on staff in order to ensure highest quality and best palatability – hence the name!”


DOFU CAT: With a strong emphasis on sustainability, innovation and cat wellness, Dofu Cat provides eco-friendly natural litter made from renewable materials. The brand’s products cater to pet parents seeking convenient and eco-friendly solutions. As Marlene Ee, general manager of Dofu Cat explains, where natural litter options are plentiful, Dofu Cat stands out with its message that its litter is not just kind to cats but also to their human companions and the environment.

“Our design-focused packaging shows we understand customers want aesthetically pleasing product packaging that aligns to their style,” she said. “At its core, Dofu Cat litter is crafted from renewable, natural and eco-friendly materials, meeting the growing demand for sustainable pet care products.”

Innovations in the litter category offer significant benefits to today’s cats by enhancing their comfort, health and overall well-being. Among the notable issues are dust control to minimize respiratory irritation, low tracking for cleanliness, biodegradability and odor control from such natural materials as bean fiber, which is used to make Dofu Cat litter.

“Cat parents often complain of smelly and dusty litter, how much it tracks, and that traditional litter isn’t biodegradable,” Ee added. “Dofu Cat litter and other innovative litter options address these pain points.”


DUCKYWORLD: DuckyWorld has been selling Yeowww! Catnip and catnip toys for more than 25 years. During this time, the brand has stayed focused and dedicated to cats, maintaining a focus on quality catnip and products that are made in the U.S.A.

Cat toys are all about making the day fun for both the cat and its caretaker, says Kris Kaiser, marketing director for DuckyWorld.

“Cats need quality products that satisfy their needs to hunt and burn off energy,” she added. “Yeowww! Catnip toys really allow cats to bite and kick the toys and satisfy their natural instincts to hunt, catch, kill. The awareness pet parents have around safety and quality seems to be a growing interest.”

The brand takes pride in the fact that all Yeowww! Catnip toys are fully stuffed with organically grown catnip and nothing but catnip. Kaiser explains that having the toy be fully stuffed with catnip increases the odds that the cat is going to respond to the toy and increase the longevity of the toy as well.

“We often hear from cat parents that their cats never responded to a catnip toy until they got their paws on a Yeowww! Catnip toy,” she explained. “We are constantly getting messages and tags on social media from people whose cats absolutely love Yeowww! Catnip toys. Our toys have been used to calm and socialize feral cats, to bring some excitement back into a senior cat’s playtime and to ramp up playtime for cats, in general. We also get messages about how community cats ripped into packages from their doorsteps and stole the toys. I can’t think of a better testament for the appeal of a Yeowww! Catnip toy than that!”


INNOVACYN:  Innovacyn is the parent company of Vetericyn, the pet care brand that makes innovative, safe and effective animal wellness products for skin, eye, ear and coat care, which the brand views as being important health issues for cats.

Vetericyn’s feline offerings are proven, highly rated and used by veterinarians and cat parents worldwide. According to Geoff Hambry, director of marketing at Vetericyn, the brand put hypochlorous on the map when it launched its wound and skin care.

“Vetericyn Plus feline products feature synthesized hypochlorous technology,“ he said. “HOCl [Hupochlorous acid] molecules are also produced naturally by the body to aid in healing. They are pH neutral and don’t damage healthy tissue the way traditional wound cleaners do.”

When it comes to advice for retailers, Hambry says a focus on educating staff to better assist customers will help build trust and loyalty to your store.

“This helps position your store as the go-to source for cat care when an owner is faced with a first aid issue that they aren’t sure how to resolve,” he explained.


NPIC: Natural Polymer International Corporation (NPIC), the award-winning maker of Get Naked and N-Bone, has been committed to enhancing the well-being of pets through its innovative and nutritious pet treats since being established in 1998. Over the years, the company has gained a strong reputation for its unwavering commitment to quality, safety and sustainability.

Dental health is an issue that NPIC believes deserves more attention among retailers and consumers. According to Sam Chen, VP of sales and marketing at NPIC, not addressing this dental issue on a regular basis can lead to additional bacteria developing and spreading throughout the cat’s system.

In addition, product education is a key factor in bringing the cat’s owners into the stores and helping them to match the right need with the product. The recent awareness of the “lack of good treats” available for cats, compared to the massive aisles of daily dental treats for dogs, is something that he feels needs to be put in the spotlight.

“Cats are finicky,” he explained. “There is trial and error, but having options in tastes, textures and forms can make the cat’s life a little more enjoyable. It also allows the pet parent to express their care and concern regarding dietary and nutritional support. End caps, cat testimonials, special promotions or coupons focusing on a more nutritional balance of specific cat treats should help bring in the regulars and the newbies.”


OPEN FARM: Open Farm, which has firmly established itself as a leader in the cat food category, is driven by its unwavering commitment to providing pets with ethically sourced, premium quality nutrition. The brand meticulously sources only the highest quality ingredients that include humanely raised meats and organic fruits and vegetables. Open Farm’s recent expansion into canned pates, fish toppers and freeze-dried raw diets for cats further underscores its dedication to innovation and continuous improvement.

According to Amy Horton, Open Farm’s chief sales officer, cat parents frequently choose the brand for its diverse range of proteins and toppers, tailored recipe categories for unique needs and commitment to humanely raised meats and sustainably sourced fish.

“This not only meets their cats’ health requirements but also aligns with their values on environmental stewardship and animal welfare,” she noted. “Our transparency and unwavering quality assurance give pet parents the confidence that they’re providing their cats with nutritious, interest-sparking meals.”

Horton views the need for animal-rich protein as being important to a cat’s healthy development as they are obligate carnivores that require essential nutrients like taurine from meat. Hydration is also crucial, so options high in moisture, such as wet recipes and toppers, are beneficial for preventing urinary issues.

In addition, she says it’s important for retailers to pay close attention to customer preferences and trends in the pet industry. This involves regularly gathering feedback from customers to understand their needs, preferences and purchasing habits.

“Use this information to tailor your product selection and inventory to align with what customers are looking for,” Horton said. “By carrying a curated range of cat food that resonates with your target audience, you can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, ultimately driving sales and fostering long-term relationships with pet owners.”


PET KING BRANDS: A pioneering leader of veterinarian-recommended pet health brands, Pet King Brands provides grooming products with beneficial ingredients to soothe and relieve. ZYMOX Enzymatic products for cats and kittens contain the renown LP3 Enzyme System, a powerfully patented combination of enzymes working to synergistically destroy bacterial and fungal microorganisms without the use of antibiotics.

PKB Animal Health, a division of Pet King Brands, Inc. has been helping veterinarians care for their patients for over 20 years. Pet King Brands director of marketing Debra Decker points out that cats, like their canine counterparts, hold the potential to suffer from itchy ears due to inflammation, dermatitis and other minor skin irritations. These conditions require soothing, non-toxic and fear-free care, which is where Pet King Brands comes in.

“Our diverse product line offers non-toxic solutions with easy-to-follow protocols to reduce stress during treatment,” Decker said. “Unlike antibiotics, antimicrobial enzymes selectively target single-celled organisms, preventing disturbance to the normal flora. The LP3 Enzyme System is so effective that it need only be applied once daily and does not require pre-cleaning.”


PETCUREAN: Following the notion that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to pet nutrition, Petcurean offers a wide variety of premium pet food options for cats, including both grain-free and grain-inclusive recipes. Now Fresh recipes for cats are tailored to every size and life stage, offering a healthy pet food choice for cats to thrive throughout their lives. Meanwhile, Go! Solutions recipes are designed to support the unique dietary needs and preferences of cats in both dry and wet food formats, as well as a range of recently launched wet food toppers.

Natalie Williams, nutrition manager at Petcurean, notes that the right ingredients and balance of nutrients based on a cat’s individual needs and preferences will help it thrive and stay healthy. The appropriate diet will help a cat with such common health and nutrition issues as digestion and gut health, weight management and food sensitivities.

“As the award-winning manufacturer of premium pet food brands Go! Solutions, Now Fresh, Gather and Summit, Petcurean has established itself as an industry leader with 25 years of trusted, premium pet nutrition expertise,” said Williams. “With a variety of options and formats, each recipe has been designed to meet the needs of cats of all different shapes, sizes, backgrounds and life stages. This variety also supports the overall wellness of cats as they are naturally ‘neophobic,’ meaning that they don’t like new things. By exposing them to multiple flavors and textures early on in their lives, pet parents can help to discourage pickiness in their later years.”


PRECIOUS CAT: Founded in 1987, Dr. Elsey’s is a veterinarian-owned company providing solution-based cat litter and food. A feline-only veterinarian, Dr. Bruce Elsey has encountered all manners of problems with the cats his practice treats; thus, he sets out to create the safest, most effective solutions to those problems. Dr. Elsey’s line includes a variety of premium litters and protein-rich food products that address the health and behavioral needs of cats in every stage of life.

Inappropriate elimination is the No. 1 behavioral reason cats are abused and surrendered to shelters. According to Mat Brost, the brand’s marketing director, Dr. Elsey has determined that the underlying cause of most cat issues is stress.

“The stress is generally caused from environmental changes, such as a move to a new home or introducing another pet to the household, but it can be something as simple as moving the cats litter box,” Brost said. “The number one thing cat parents should keep in mind when their cat encounters a medical condition is that the condition was likely initiated by stress and anxiety.”

Customer needs are always changing, and that is one reason why a varied product assortment is extremely important in today’s competitive marketplace; cats and their pet parents want their favorite pet stores to offer choices when it comes to products like cat litter.

“Understand your customers’ needs and what problems they might be encountering with their cats, then educate those customers about solutions,” Brost explained. “The reason we have such a large lineup of clay and crystal litter is to relieve every issue cat parents encounter. From tracking litter, litter sticking to fur and litter box aversion to respiratory issues and cat anxiety, we have a variety of effective solutions for cat parents.”


PUREBITES: Widely known as being a leader in natural cat treats, food and toppers, PureBites is focused on its core principle of asking pet parents to look at the brand’s limited and simple ingredients. PureBites cat treats and toppers, which are made with five or fewer ingredients, has been the fastest growing part of its business the past few years.

According to Susan Malizia, trade marketing and customer service specialist at PureBites, cat parents are becoming more aware of the impact of diet on their pet’s health and are seeking to provide them with healthier, more nutritious options. In response to this, the brand provides clear and easy-to-understand information on its packaging, which she says has been appreciated by consumers.

“Pet parents want to know what they are feeding and treating their cats. They are looking for natural products with limited ingredients, preferably with a single protein source to help accommodate cats with health issues such as allergies, diabetes or sensitive digestive systems which may require a restricted diet,” she said “When cat parents look at a PureBites bag, there is no question of ‘Is there chicken in here?’ or ‘Does this have grain?’ ”

Malizia adds that educated consumers understand the nutritional benefits of the brand’s cat treats and toppers, noting that when pet parents treat or feed their cats with PureBites freeze-dried treats, food and toppers, cats will receive many of the same nutritional benefits that raw proteins have to offer.

“Pet parents understand that choosing the right snacks and treats will make a difference in the health of their pets,” she said. “They just need to be given the tools and guidance to make informed decisions. At PureBites, we offer a selection of merchandising tools for stores to help spread the word including special promotional offers, floor stands, clips trips, shelf talkers and samples.”


STELLA & CHEWY’S: A category leader in the raw pet food space, Stella & Chewy’s manufactures a broad portfolio of cat food recipes offering 100 percent complete and balanced nutrition with responsibly sourced animal proteins and none of the bad stuff. The brand’s frozen raw cat food and freeze-dried raw cat food recipes mirror a cat’s ancestral diet with 98 percent meat, organs and bone. The brand’s lineup also delivers a variety of hydrating and protein-rich wet cat food recipes made with quality ingredients.

Regarding feline health advice, brand director Moronke Tyler says a healthy weight is crucial for a cat’s mobility and joints, heart and lung health, immune system and quality of life. Overweight cats have a higher risk of several serious health conditions including diabetes, fatty liver disease, and urinary tract infections. Meanwhile, underweight cats also face health risks that include malnutrition, poor bone density and compromised immune health.

“A biologically appropriate raw food diet is more satisfying and provides more energy, which can help overweight cats achieve a healthy weight,” explained Tyler, adding that it’s important that cats remain properly hydrated and maintain a healthy weight. “To stay in good health, cats need one ounce of water per pound of body weight every day. Cats can easily become dehydrated, which can lead to serious health problems, so it’s important to monitor your cat’s water intake.”

In addition, when it comes to helping a cat gain or lose weight, Tyler advises retailers to have their customers speak with a veterinarian to make sure the cat isn’t suffering from any underlying health concerns at play.


VEE ENTERPRISES: Vee Enterprises has been a pioneer and innovator of cat toys since its groundbreaking debut in 1988, when Vee founders Lorie and Steve Viner introduced the first interactive cat toy, The PURRfect Cat Toy. The creative design of infusing teaser elements of movement and sound with durable, pet-safe materials set the standard for interactive cat toys.

Today, with nearly 40 years of quality products and toy manufacturing, Vee continues to create new, attractive and innovative products while maintaining its reputation of top-of-the-line quality. With more than a dozen cat wand SKUs, Vee offers a toy for every type of cat.

According to Vee sales manager Eric Merva, one of the most popular wands among pet parents is the PURRfect Leather Bouncer Cat Toy.

“The popularity comes from the fact that cats love leather, the smell, the taste and to chew,” he explained. “With a vegetable-tanned leather cord and an end adorned by faux fur and natural leather tassels, it even looks like prey, which is what drives cats crazy. Of course, our PURRfect Feather Cat Toy is also a hit as it makes a bird in flight motion that cats can’t resist to chase and bat. For shy cats, our PURRfect Wispy Bouncer can perk up almost any cat with its natural iridescent peacock feathers that retain the natural smell of the bird.”

Merva advises pet retailers to teach their customers — especially those who are first-time cat owners — about the importance of interactive toys while also helping them select the right ones for their particular cat.

“Choosing products that are not only interesting for cats but also safe for them and their owners is key to ensuring a happy and healthier lifestyle,” he concluded. “Toys that are meant for cats to play with by themselves miss out on the many benefits of interactive toys such as exercise, mental stimulation and a strengthened bond. Vee Enterprises’ products meet these needs and fit the bill PURRfectly, as they are always cat-tested and approved before they hit the market.”