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Not the Same Old Thing

Stacy Mantle//June 1, 2015//

Not the Same Old Thing

Stacy Mantle //June 1, 2015//

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Cat collars have traditionally been tough sells but as cat fanciers become more educated—and collars become safer and more durable—it’s a category that’s seeing excellent growth in the industry.

Safety Over Style

Collars can be found in a stunning array of colors, materials and patterns. From diamond-studded chokers to cheetah patterns, there is a design for any feline personality or lifestyle. Nevertheless, experts warn that color and design should always come second to safety.

“Safety is the most important thing to consider when purchasing a cat collar. There should be a release option in case the cat gets caught on something,” said Donna Bodell, director of marketing for UpCountry, Inc. “UpCountry cat collars have a breakaway buckle that will release under pressure. Retailers should also consider stocking a variety of colorful and stylish but also holiday-specific designs, as buyers do enjoy changing their cats’ collars for the season or holiday.”

Breakaway collars remain the most popular type of collar for cats. Most breakaway collars feature a safety fastener that releases when it’s pulled, allowing cats to slip free in case of entanglement. Other breakaway styles feature a short length of elastic fabric that allows the collar to expand, which enables your cat to pull free in the event it’s caught in a precarious position.

“Think about the current stage of life the cat is in,” said Ann Clinger, president of DazzlePet. “The collar an owner might buy for a very active kitten will be different than a collar purchased for a middle-aged or senior kitty. Our stretchy, flat-braid webbing is great for several reasons. First, it allows the cat to pull out of a collar if it becomes hung up on a branch or shrub. Secondly, the stretchy webbing allows the prong of the buckle to be inserted at any point where the jewels stop. It also allows for more flexibility when fitting the collar to the cat.”

Function Over Form

Function is also an important consideration. For example, reflective and glow-in-the-dark collars may help save you from tripping over your cat at night. For owners who are not especially mobile, this may be appealing.

“When looking for a collar for your cat, you might also consider one that is reflective,” said Sara Hickman, advertising manager for Leather Brothers, Inc. “Collars that come with a bell will help you keep up with your pet when they’re on the move. Our product line is a great fit for cat owners because we offer everything from cat collars, leads, harnesses to muzzles and cat scratchers.”

“Fashion and function are equally important and we strive to make sure that we offer collars that are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional and safe,” said Angela Wharton, product manager, Collars and Leashes, for Petmate. “Our cat collars feature our patented multi-directional pod buckle that will release your kitty any way they pull. We continue to think of innovative ways to address unanswered issues. For example, our glow-in-the-dark collars are perfect for cats that may be in rural areas or areas with few nighttime light sources. The collar charges in the daylight hours and is completely self-sustaining, no batteries or USB charging needed!”

Collar accessories, such as decorative charms, bowties and trackers, are also quite lucrative for retailers. Some can provide important functions, including the ability to track activity levels in cats that have been ill or locating a feline that has wandered too far from home.

Sebastian Langton developed Pod Tracker, the world’s smallest, lightest GPS pet tracker. Operating on satellite-based technology, it uses cell transmission to monitor location.

“There was nothing small enough or light enough to put on my cat,” said Langton. “Through a lot of testing, we noticed the shapes available on the market are not conducive to a pet’s movement. Cats couldn’t clean or eat properly, so we set to work on a different design with a more appropriate shape that allows cats to move naturally.”

Making Sales

“Our most important recommendation for retailers is to make sure collars are separated by style so that consumers don’t mistakenly purchase a non-breakaway collar thinking it is going to break away if their cat happens to get snagged,” said Wharton. “Organizing fashion collars by colors or patterns is also a great eye-catching way to add visual interest in this area.”

No matter what type of collar an owner chooses, the cat should always be wearing one that’s outfitted with ID tags. It’s a good idea to encourage cat owners to keep a spare collar and tag on hand in case the breakaway collar is lost or broken.