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September 21, 2016

Winter is approaching and that means changing activity levels for cats. This is a great opportunity to switch out inventory and freshen up displays with new products that keep crepuscular cats warm and active during those long winter nights.

Warm and Dry
Senior or arthritic cats can struggle with the cooler temperatures of winter. Heated pet beds can be beneficial in helping to ease arthritic pain.

“It’s important, though, to make sure any heated bedding you create is safe,” said Pam Johnson-Bennett, an author and certified cat behavior consultant. “It’s also important to make sure your cat is able to freely move away from the heat should she get too warm. If you typically lower your thermostat for the times during the day while you’re at work or before you go to bed, remember to take your cat’s comfort into consideration. Be sure to provide warm places within the house or raise your thermostat just enough to take the chill off.”

There are plenty of stylish, comfortable cat beds to choose from these days.

“With the influx of cat beds on the market, purchasing a practical bed for those lazy cat naps no longer means having to sacrifice your own style,” Natalie Hennessy, public relations and integrated marketing manager for P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You). “P.L.A.Y. manufactures eco-friendly pet beds that are stylish for owners, safe for pets and better for our planet.”

The durable, award-winning beds are designed to fit any home, and are overstuffed with the manufacturer’s in-house PlanetFill filler made of certified-safe, 100-percent post-consumer recycled products.

“Since cats are known to fall asleep anywhere they please, cat beds need additional features to lure cats to use them and motivate pet parents to buy them,” said Wonjung Song, director of bedding product development for Worldwise, Inc. “The simplest way to do this is with a handful of organic catnip in a secure, hidden pocket. The catnip scent lures cats back to the bed over and over. Our cat beds are often designed with this feature built in and come with a starter stash of catnip included. This point of differentiation gives pet parents a reason to try the pet bed and will bring them back to your store to buy catnip to refresh the catnip allure.”

Owners must not forget to provide plenty of places to hide in addition to areas where cat can nap among sunbeams. The KatKabin has a weatherproof shell to keep outdoor cats dry and cozy during winter storms, or can be placed indoors with a carpeted top to work as a scratch post. The unique dome shape makes it easy to hide in bushes and the removable cat door gives them an extra feeling of security while simultaneously blocking wind and weather.

“Our SkratchKabin is a great indoor activity center because it’s a scratcher and lounge in one, which is a big hit with consumers,” said Pascale Deffieux Pearce, executive vice president of Brinsea Products. “The KatKabin has a weatherproof shell to keep outdoor or feral cats dry and cozy in adverse weather, as well as shaded in the summer. The unique dome shape makes it easy to hide in bushes, which cats love, and the removable cat door gives them an extra feeling of security while simultaneously blocking wind and weather.”

Winter Activities
Keeping cats active in winter can prove to be a challenge, but it’s more important than ever to keep them stimulated to reduce behavioral problems resulting from boredom. Luckily, the industry is filled with fun, purpose-driven toys—from remote controlled cameras that encourage interaction to interactive cat toys and puzzle feeders to help cats stay engaged during feeding time. Each is designed to stimulate a cat’s more primal instincts, whether it’s stalking, hunting or chasing.

The average spending per toy has increased from $40 to $47 from 2008 to 2014, according to the 2015-16 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners survey.

“Cats need to play,” said Tom Kamp Eriksen, area export manager for Kruuse. “Cats are born with a hunting and chasing instinct that needs to be stimulated. If the cat is cut off from getting mental stimulation and exercise, a lot of energy accumulates and may result in behavior problems, such as chasing imaginary prey up and down walls and across table tops. While playing and ‘hunting’ toys the cat gets exercise, which then again will help prevent weight issues and the secondary health problems that come with it.”

New ways to keep cats active in smaller spaces are available in the form of cat exercise wheels, and they also make great store displays. GoCatWheel is constructed with an aircraft-like structure; the wheel is light and strong while the base is intentionally made heavy to provide a stable platform to accommodate the running speed of large, more active cats.

“In field testing our cat wheel has proven to not only enhance the physical well-being of our cats but altered their disposition to be more relaxed and calm,” reports manufacturer One Fast Cat on its website.

Activity for cats doesn’t have to be extensive. Wand toys have improved in recent years with the development of higher-quality wands and detailed lures modeled in the same painstaking detail as fly fishing lures.

“Using wand toys allows cats to use their various skills of hunting such as stalking, jumping, running while chasing prey,” said Ellen Tsuyaki, owner of Neko Flies. “As well as general exercise to keep your cat fit and minimize obesity issues, which is currently a problem in many indoor cats.”

Embrace the winter months as a time to explore new product lines and fast-moving approaches to cat care.

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