While the number of litter boxes owned in U.S. households are on the rise, the focus driving sales remains the perennial need to make litter box clean-up more efficient and simultaneously control litter scatter, as well as odor.
According to statistics in the 2013-14 National Pet Owners’ Survey published by the American Pet Products Association, 89 percent of cat owners have litter boxes. These figures indicate an increase in both standard pans in varying designs and automated boxes.
Since the acquisition of ScoopFree by PetSafe owned by Radio Systems Corporation, the company released another new design called SweepOne at the end of last year, giving cat owners more options in automated and semi-automated boxes.
“The ScoopFree line remains our top seller for us in the waste category,” Jason Hart, director of marketing for the Knoxville, Tenn.-based company. “The disposable crystal litter trays used in the system provide a recurring revenue stream for retailers while meeting the customer desire to maintain a clean litter box with a minimum amount of hassle and mess.
“The SweepOne, can be used with most of the clumping litters. The dual rake and spade system combined with a non-stick surface also does an excellent job removing stuck clumps at the bottom of the pan. However, the consumer does need to throw away the waste, which is raked, into a separate compartment. Ultimately it comes down to a choice of preferred method of waste disposal, type of litter and of course price.”
ScoopFree boxes retail around $130 and SweepOne is around $200.
As a result of cat behaviorists educating cat owners that in multi cat households, where there may be a little feline rivalry causing cats to trap one another in a litter box, the market place has seen an increase in bigger boxes with higher sides such as those manufactured by Van Ness Plastics, and Nature’s Miracle.
Further, the fact that litter boxes are being integrated more into households instead of being relegated to laundry areas, the market has seen an a variety of colors from black reds, greens and blues trending in order to better blend with home décor trends.
“Color trends in little boxes fluctuate although neutral colors are always popular, Damian Hall, senior marketing manager for Rolf C. Hagen, said. “Over the past couple of years we have introduced more pinks and blues and even tiger prints.”
According to Amy Cross, purchasing manager for MadCat Pet Supplies in Madison, Wis., large open boxes continue to sell well.
“Customers ask for recommendation and take heed when we suggest a big open high sided pan over an enclosed box if there are feline issues in the home,” she said. “However ultimately we sell an equal amount of both designs. There’s no question that consumers have less clean up if their cats use either an enclosed litter box or one with high sides.”
Monika Allen, product manager for Petmate, said sales of larger litter pans are trending upward because of the growth in multiple cat homes, as nearly 60 percent of U.S. households have two cats, and 44 percent have three or more cats, and also because of the increase in pet obesity.
Further, sales of open litter pans exceed the sales of the covered litter pans.
The company took larger and overweight cats into account when designing their Stay Fresh Litter Pan by Petmate and Arm & Hammer Jumbo Hooded Litter Pan which features a spacious enclosure and provides extra protection against litter scatter. It is also available in a variety of popular interior design colors.
“Most of Petmate’s litter pans have antimicrobial protection to inhibit the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria,” Allen said. “However, we also recommend annual litter box replacement to help prevent feline health issues.”
Hagen’s answer to meeting litterbox needs is the CatIt SmartSift, a manual, noiseless litter sifting hooded pan. It operates by pulling down on a lever, which rotates the cat pan and rotates and pours its contents into an integrated sifter, which collects and then deposits waste in pullout waste bin located below thus deleting the need for a litter scoop.
To help simplify manual litter box maintenance, WorldWise, recently introduced the compartmentalized Petlinks PurrfectOrder Litter Accessory Organizer and the VaporVault Litter Waste Container to ensure that cat owners have all litterbox needs in one place.
The VaporVault litter waste container can store a week’s worth of waste, and has a snap close lid with an odor-proof seal. The unit is fitted with drawstring liners for emptying. The PurrfectOrder organizer holds liners, deodorizers and all cleaning essential and has in four different locations for a scoop to be attached.
For those who still believe the only accessory needed for a litter box is a scoop, the broad-headed ergonomically designed K-Kat scoop from K-Kat Innovative Pet products should have appeal. The all-steel scoop is designed for dealing with multi-cat households where although there may be multiple boxes, certain boxes are preferred over others. It’s also recommended for cat shelters.T