The pet industry generally is all about re-inventing the wheel. Addressing feline waste management and keeping homes odor-free with innovation can make giving cats an indoor lifestyle even easier and keep more customers happy in their pet ownership.
Earlier this year, Pupco Brands announced the launch of its revolutionary litter, Plenary. Lab testing has validated company claims, which a press release notes as including “no dust, zero-minimal tracking, lightweight, good clumping integrity, excellent odor control, swift cat acceptance and it flushes down the commode with no issues.”
“We were introduced to the primary component of Plenary during 2016,” said Paul Lien, president of Pupco Brands. “At that time, my teammates and I were intrigued, however a bit skeptical, given our extensive research of cat litter and the common flaws that came along with it. After some negotiating, we decided to order this organic product to test for ourselves.”
After months of testing, the litter was tested by a chemist, who examined it for clumping, odor control, fluid absorption, dust, tracking and flushability. It was then reviewed by dozens of cat owners, who gave Plenary overwhelmingly positive feedback.
Recently, the research and development team at Healthy Pet, manufacturers of ökocat litters, conducted an in-depth study with cat parents who use clay or natural litters to determine what is most important to them.
“Easy cleaning was at the top of their list, which makes a natural litter like ökocat—that not only lasts longer, but can also be flushed or composted—very appealing,” said Leslie Ellis, consumer communication manager for the brand. “It also revealed that there is still a low awareness of natural litter and what they are made of. Performance, especially ease of cleanup and odor control, continues to be the main driver of cat litter purchases. If their cat loves it, too, all the better!”
Younger Market Drivers
There is no question that when it comes to cat litter boxes and management, millennials are impacting the conversation. The tag line for PetFive’s new litter, called Sustainably Yours, is “What millennial parents want, our new cat litter delivers. Sustainably Yours: a clean you can see!”
“Interest in our new Sustainably Yours line has exceeded our wildest dreams at both this year’s Global Pet Expo and SuperZoo shows,” confirmed Luana Francischini, communications director for PetFive. “Currently, the Multi-Cat and Multi-Cat Plus lines are available to distributors and independent pet retailers to order and we hope to have them in stores for their customers very soon.
“Our new formula stops odors and clumps so well because it’s made from a unique blend of corn and cassava, two sustainable, renewable and biodegradable crops,” she added. “And since this new litter is lighter in color than other plant-based brands, it’s easy for pet parents to spot differences in their cat’s urine and keep the litter box clean.”
According to Judy Drake, co-owner of Sam Russell’s Pet Provisions in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, millennials are definitely influencing the type of products she and partner Diane Shoffner are bringing into their store.
“They are very knowledgeable, spend a lot of time on the internet and hence have an influential opinion with regard to the choices they make for their pets. And, as storeowners, we listen to our customers and because we are a small store, we have to be selective,” she said.
Light and Easy
Apart from the environmentally friendly aspect of natural litters, these products are also much lighter and easier to carry. Consequently, litter weight has bearing on the category as a whole, too.
According to Vince Schrum, director of sales for Midwest Organics, Inc., the company’s CatSpot litter is made from 100 percent coconut and is the lightest litter on the market.
“Our bag weighs five pounds and it lasts for one month, with one cat,” he said. Founded in 2015, Midwest Organics, Inc., is an agronomy soil-based company that developed a patent process on coconut to create an absorbent material.
“One day at the production facility, the guys noticed that a stray cat had been coming in and using the coconut to pee, and we noticed there was no odor and the idea to produce a litter was born,” Schrum said. “Coconut holds 560 percent of its weight in liquid, making it the most absorbent plant known to man. The absorbent nature is what makes CatSpot so effective as a cat litter.”
Since day one, Lucy Pet Products has had success with its unique bag with handles and pouring spout, which helps make it very user-friendly. The bags are available in the original 14-pound size and now a bigger 25-pound option.
“The two-handle pour spout bags remain very popular with shoppers, but the litter is also available in 20 pound jugs that have become big sellers because they offer great value as the consumer gets six extra pounds for the same price as the 14-pound handle bag,” said Betsy Martin, director of marketing and development for Lucy Pet Products.
The Box Itself
Litter is only one part of the feline waste management equation; litter boxes are equally important in their design and efficiency. When it comes to open boxes, designs with high sides and low entry points (for older cats), such as the Catit designs from Rolf C. Hagen USA Corp., are becoming the norm in many households.
“In terms of sales, our best-seller is the Catit Jumbo Litter Box along with the Magic Blue cartridge, which reduces hazardous ammonia gases for a safe and cat-friendly litter box,” said Damian Hall, senior marketing manager for Rolf C. Hagen USA Corp.
The company also manufactures a variety of litter mats such as the Catit Clean Litter Trapping Matt, which has a soft surface with flexible fibers that gently dislodge and collect litter from a cat’s paws as they step on it.
PetSafe reports continued success with its ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box. Instead of scooping litter every day, the PetSafe ScoopFree does all of the work without any cleaning or having to refill the box with more litter.
“It uses completely disposable litter trays that are easy to use and pre-filled with our odor-absorbing crystal litter,” said Tina Ingersoll, product manager for the waste management category. “All you have to do is load the tray with litter under the litter box and, when it’s time to change the tray, simply put the lid on it and throw it away. Any waste stays hidden under the covered waste trap, so you never have to see it or touch it. In addition to the convenience of the system, it is also a great solution for odor control.”
The disposable litter trays that work with the PetSafe ScoopFree litter box can last up to a month for single-cat households and around two weeks for two cats. The litter box is available in the standard version; the Ultra, which includes a hood and a built-in health counter; and a top-entry version, recently added to the line.
“This new top-entry version has a hood that is designed especially for reducing litter tracking around the home,” Ingersoll explained. “The top of the hood has a grated surface to help catch litter from the cat’s paws and allow it to fall back into the box instead of on the floor. Top-entry litter boxes are rising in popularity, and this new litter box option gives our PetSafe ScoopFree customers a great solution to messy litter tracking.”