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Solving Cat Behavior Issues

Sandy Robins//December 1, 2014//

Solving Cat Behavior Issues

Sandy Robins //December 1, 2014//

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So many cats lose their homes as a result of behavioral issues. And while the number of products to counteract various issues is growing, many retailers have yet to take advantage of this category by showcasing such products and educating pet owners about their viability. Doing so could ultimately save felines lives and simultaneously create sales.

Calming Products

“This is a very interesting subject and I’m glad that Pet Age is spotlighting it because I think that very few pet owners even know such products exist or even think that they can do something about behaviors such as feline anxiety,” said Brad Kriser, founder and chief executive officer of the chain of Kriser’s For Your Pets All-Natural Life stores. “We have carried products like the ThunderShirt for dogs for a long time and have been considering bringing in the feline version into our stores.

However, we do carry products such as Bach Rescue Remedy and Comfort Zone Feliway diffusers. And recently, we introduced the Licks Zen singles for cats.”

Licks Zen is a gel calming formula that contains chamomile root, tryptophan, theanine and ashwagandha root. It can be applied to the paw or rubbed on to the cheek for the cat to lick off.
“While none of these are large sellers,” admitted Kriser, “we will continue to stock them because it’s part of what we do in being there to help pet owners.”

One way of educating pet owners about the existence of such products is through social media channels and comprehensive information on product websites.

ThunderShirt went as far as to post a hilarious video on YouTube of a cat that is absolutely hypnotized by his ThunderShirt. So far it’s had more than 655,000 views.

The principal of the ThunderShirt is that it mimics the swaddling principles mothers use to calm babies and this concept can be applied to cats as well as dogs.

“In conjunction with the shirts, ThunderWorks has a lavender-scented pheromone spray which mimics a mother’s natural pheromones and the products can be used in conjunction with one another,” said Todd Cantrell, vice president of marketing for the company.

“Retailers can merchandise ThunderShirts in line but also in a secondary location near the transporters and crates as it’s a great complimentary product,” added Cantrell.

Pheromone sprays are not new to the market place but again, it’s been slow getting the word out because they are not products that are usually aggressively marketed.

Cats release natural pheromones from facial glands when they rub up against furniture and people. It’s a way of marking their territory and claiming it as a safe zone. Such pheromones also help cats and dogs calm their young and ease anxiety. Pheromone sprays contain chemical substances that replicate these natural pheromones used for such communication.

Apart from making a calming collar for cats infused with natural calming ingredients like lavender and chamomile, Sergeant’s PetCare also has a spray product called Calming Spray.

“We use interomones (cross-species pheromones) in our cat behavior products that act like pheromones but work across different species such as pig pheromones that work well on cats,” said Caryn Stichler, vice president of marketing for Perrigo Animal Health, the manufacturers of the Sergeant’s PetCare products.

Training Tools

Earlier this year, The Company of Animals celebrated the sales of more than 3 million Pet Corrector sprays created by Dr. Roger Mugford, renowned pet psychologist and founder of the humane training and lifestyle brand.

This auditory training tool has helped millions of pet parents, trainers and animal shelters quickly and safely stop inappropriate feline scratching and other behaviors such as chasing other pets, stealing food or jumping.

“Most importantly, the Pet Corrector creates an opportunity for behavior correction and positive reinforcement,” said Mugford. “Every animal we’ve been able to help with this product is the real success story and one worth celebrating.”

For retailers looking to create a feline behavior modification category, feline behaviorist Marilyn Krieger, author of the book “Naughty No More,” said products such as enzyme cleaners for cleaning up areas where cats urinate and spray can be included in the line-up alongside diffusers. There are also double-sided tape products to stop cats from counter surfing and scratching sofas and carpets.

“Cat Attractant additive and Cat Attract Litter also belong in this line-up to help encourage cats to use their litter boxes,” added Krieger.

“I think it’s important to point out that behavior modification products work best in conjunction with changes to the pet’s environment introduced by the pet’s owners,” she added.

While it may not be possible to place tall scratching posts and cat condos alongside calming sprays from a logistical standpoint in store, Krieger added that a well-educated retailer can explain how to redirect a cat from scratching on furniture by placing a nice tall scratching post close by, thus giving pet owners ideas of other products to purchase while shopping for their cat.

And the good news is that the market continues to grow. Marshall Pet Products will be releasing their new Cat Urine Extractor product at the beginning of 2015.

“It removes the pheromones from sub-floor padding and carpet surfaces and helps break the cycle of the cat remarking the same area,” explained Linda Cope the company’s global marketing manager.

Retailers, take note: make more shelf space available for behavioral products.