While litter boxes aren’t the most glamorous part of owning a cat, it’s the part that can help make or break a relationship.
As customers continue to seek out quality and innovation in cat boxes and manufacturers are meeting that challenge. From traditional litter trays to fully automatic, self-cleaning boxes, the market has changed through the years.
Selecting a cat box is a very personal decision that will vary according to each domestic situation.
Automatic litter boxes with rakes allow more freedom and cleaner boxes, but some cats may not be comfortable around a motor. Many owners, particularly those of multi-cat households, prefer these types of units as they result in fewer boxes per cat throughout the house.
Automated boxes are now available in a wide selection. Popular classics include Nature’s Miracle Self-Cleaning litter boxes or the LitterMaid, both of which rely on the use of a clay-based scoopable litter. These quiet-running boxes offer superior odor control and ease of use, coming in several sizes to accommodate any type of cat.
For those who prefer the ease of automation, but prefer to avoid motors, CatIt offers a manually operated sifting system. Simple yet innovative, the SmartSift’s unique design does the scooping, but allows the owner to control the frequency of litter sifting.
“There is no motor, so it doesn’t frighten cats and it’s large design is perfect for multi-cat households,” Damian Hall, senior marketing manager for Rolf C. Hagen Corp, said. “It’s two steps: 1-2-clean.”
The newer automated boxes, such as the ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box, uses disposable litter trays that rely on a silica-based “crystal” litter, which is included in each tray. The litter is free of perfumes and dyes, and nearly dust-free. The scooping mechanism sits over the disposable tray and it is easily removed each month by simply covering the tray and disposing.
When it comes to litter boxes, size matters. Certain breeds of cats require larger litter boxes, while others prefer their own individual box. Some cats prefer privacy while others prefer an open environment.
It’s important for consumers to understand their cats’ needs, and it’s important for retailers to provide the knowledge and expertise in helping them select the best products for their cat.
The biggest drawback to litter and boxes is the shelf space it takes to keep them in stock.
“Retailers need to understand the needs of their customers in order to maximize shelf space,” Abby Bishop, store manager at Only Natural Pet in Colorado, said.
Most manufacturers understand this problem and have created POS displays that can help educate customers while saving room on the floor.
Traditional cat boxes are still a feline favorite and they now come in a large variety of shapes and sizes. Corner units are perfect for keeping litter in place, while the traditional rectangular litter tray can be easily placed in any location, including the interior of planters or chests for those who prefer to keep boxes hidden.
Hooded litter trays are perfect for the cat who demands privacy. As they generally include a carbon or charcoal absorber as a form of filtration, they are effective at controlling odor.
Boxes like the LitterLoo from SmartyKat helps keep litter in the box with its special wall design and their DigDeep litter box, with its high walls, affords extra protection against cats who like to kick litter from the box.
When stocking litter boxes, retailers are presented with an opportunity to cross-sell other helpful accessories.
“SmartyKat offers a variety of stylishly designed and functional waste management, scatter control and odor control products that improve the litter experience for pets and pet parents,” Shannon McWilliams, vice president for product development at Worldwise, said. “Clean Exit is a scatter control mat that keeps litter off of the floor to decrease tracking.”
Odor can be a recurring problem in homes with even the best hygiene system.
“The CritterZone Air Naturalizer creates a natural, charged flow that fills the room and continually cleans the air,” Bill Converse, president of CritterZone USA, said. “CritterZone provides indoor air with the natural charge it needs to virtually eliminate odors, allergens, dust and bacteria.”
The Litter Genie Plus Cat Litter Disposal System reduces odor, makes clean-up quick and easy, hygienically seals soiled litter clumps and reduces trips to the garbage.
“The Litter Genie can hold up to two weeks of waste before emptying, eliminating the daily need to go to the outside trash and making it a convenient way to keep litter boxes clean,” Chikako Harada, brand manager of Litter Genie, said.
Choosing which litters and cat litter boxes to carry in a store should be a result of research and knowledge of your customer base. While cat consumables can be cumbersome, the market is expanding rapidly and as customers increase their knowledge thru well thought-out marketing programs from manufacturers, demand will be high for these new consumables.