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The Cat’s Meow: Today’s Brands Give Feline Family Members Something to ‘Meow’ About

Glenn Polyn//May 9, 2023//

The Cat’s Meow: Today’s Brands Give Feline Family Members Something to ‘Meow’ About

Glenn Polyn //May 9, 2023//

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Like all pets today, cats are being recognized as valued members of our human families. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that cat parents are seeking products that can help enhance their feline’s life. That’s why it’s not unusual for customers to tell retailers, “I want the best for my cat.”

It’s through research and dedication that pet brands have been able to a wide range of innovative products to serve the needs of consumers who are seeking items that will ensure their companion cats are in good spirits and enjoying optimal health. From food and treats to outdoor gear and litter, there’s much to carry when it comes to cat products to offer cat parents.

 

FOOD & TREATS

There’s no debate about it; the cat food and treats market is flourishing as consumers are demanding variety in the offerings for their finicky felines. Cats are known to be picky eaters that leave their owners scrambling to find the most palatable diets for their companion animals, so it’s important for retailers to provide plenty of options to allow their customers to pick and choose. Plenty of offerings that include canned, dry, freeze-dried and raw in a variety of flavors and featured ingredients is the ideal way to go.

When it comes to nutrition, premium and high quality continue to be key factors in what consumers want in their cat’s diet. Consumers refuse to skimp on quality ingredients and recipes that are highly palatable. Stella & Chewy’s is well known for developing food for picky eaters or allergy sufferers. The Wisconsin-based company uses only quality, sustainably sourced ingredients from trusted farmers and ranchers, and one of its most recent wet cat food lines has been reinvented with 100-percent human-grade ingredients that offers a complete and balanced diet for adult cats.

According to Stella & Chewy’s, cat parents are seeking foods with high protein content based on the understanding that cats are obligate carnivores, so the brand has answered that demand with its new recipes. It recently added two recipes to its cat kibble line: Raw Coated Kibble Cage Free Duck Recipe and Raw Blend Kibble Wild Caught Recipe. The cat foods are made in the U.S.A. with no ingredients from China, and meat is the No. 1 ingredient followed by animal meal — there’s no corn, wheat, pea or soy protein. Each piece of kibble is coated with the manufacturer’s freeze-dried raw recipe.

When it comes to variety, that comes in the variety of recipes and ingredients used. Variety is also found in the plethora of food formats available. Many cat owners offer their pets a combination of diet textures, such as both dry and canned food. Wet foods often provide a variety of flavors and proteins as well as choices in consistency, such as pâté, shredded, minced, stew, flaked, bits and more.

Tiki Cat, which was launched in 2005, has created three brand pillars that explain how it provides the carnivore diet that cats were born to eat:

Protein: As obligate carnivores, cats need real meat. That’s why Tiki Cat foods provide high protein nutrition from real animal protein sources, minimal carbohydrates and zero grains.

Hydration: Cats naturally have a low thirst drive. They often eat dry food, which doesn’t supply moisture. Tiki Cat recommends wet food or adding toppers to dry food to supply additional hydration.

Variety: In the wild, cats would eat a variety of protein sources. Tiki Cat diets come in recipes that offer a wide selection of flavors and formats to satisfy even the pickiest cats.

The brand’s cat food portfolio is specifically designed to meet a cat’s biological nutritional dietary needs while containing only non-GMO ingredients. Because of this, cat parents will find no animal by-products, corn, white potatoes, wheat, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives among Tiki Cat’s food ingredients.

What Tiki Cat food does provide is taurine, an essential amino acid that felines can’t synthesize on their own but must derive from their food sources. According to the brand, cats require large amounts of taurine for healthy vision, heart function and growth. The food also is formulated to support healthy immune systems with Omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidant vitamins A, E and Folic Acid. Additionally, Omega-3 fatty acids, which are included in both recipes and occur naturally in cold-water fish like trout, contribute to healthy vision and eye development, as well as glowing skin and shiny coats.

Bryan Nieman, brand director at Fromm Family Foods, a manufacturer in Mequon, Wisconsin, agrees that variety is more important than ever as it pertains to feline diets, in part because of the finicky nature of cats. For that reason, he says, “Fromm offers a great assortment of tastes and textures across product lines to help pet parents find the best option for their cat. You can find our kibble recipes vary not only in proteins and ingredients, but also in kibble shape. Additionally, our can offerings include varying textures, including pates, stews and shreds to suit different feline palates.”

On the topic of what makes Fromm so popular with cat parents, Nieman points to his brand’s cat food formulations.

Fromm cat foods are formulated with a select blend of high-quality macro and micro nutrients to be nutritionally complete and balanced,” he explained. “This includes the use of premium, purpose-driven ingredients which are prepared and cooked at our family-owned-and-operated manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin.”

In addition, all Fromm recipes are balanced and formulated to support a cat’s daily metabolic function. That includes required vitamins as well as choices in proteins that provide essential amino acids and nutrients.

This year, Portland Pet Food Company launched its new Homestyle Meals for Cats, which it describes as fresh, ready-to-eat, human-grade meals that are shelf stable for two years with no additives or preservatives. Available in Salmon N’ Pumpkin and Chicken N’ Pumpkin, they are great for people looking to add a boost of natural nutrition to their cat’s diet.

As with the rest of Portland Pet Food Company’s products, the new cat formulas are entirely sourced and made in the U.S.A. This sourcing process better ensures the quality of ingredients, and can better insulate Portland Pet Food Company from global supply-chain issues, making them a reliable option for customers looking to enhance their cat’s nutrition.

Nulo, the Austin, Texas-based pet brand, is known for its unique formulas of wet food and toppers for all types of cats, including growing kittens, indoor adults and senior cats. It’s focus on such elements as high-quality protein, life-stage and solution-based formulas has resonated with today’s health-conscious cat parents.

At Nulo, we believe in modeling the natural diet of pets while adding functional nutrition that supports their health and wellness,” said Kathryn Mitcham, senior manager of nutrition and brand awareness at Nulo. “With this in mind, our foods for cats have industry-leading amounts of animal-based protein, are low in carbohydrates and contain beneficial ingredients like prebiotics and probiotics that naturally support gut health. Nulo’s nutritional platform elevates the definition of ‘natural’ by delivering formulas that closely mirror the nutritional composition that our pets are designed to thrive on and providing them in a variety of convenient formats for modern pets. We believe that, as obligate carnivores, this is especially important for our feline friends.”

Since the brand was founded in 2008, Nulo has seen great success with its cat treats, and it has taken the approach of developing functional treats that are designed to provide cats with the enrichment they crave in the form of natural, crunchy and solution-focused snacks.

“Nulo’s Functional Cat Treats are made with meat as the first ingredient, contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, and are enhanced with functional ingredients that target health and wellness solutions,” Mitcham noted. “As carnivores, the acceptance of our high meat treats by cats is naturally very high,” she continued. “With just two calories per treat, coupled with our active-lifestyle approach, we can help pets in the battle against feline obesity and other weight-related issues. Nulo’s Crunchy Cat Treats are available in three functional recipes, including Digestion, Heart Health and Skin & Coat formulas.”

Since 1958, pet parents have entrusted Inaba with the privilege of providing food that is preservative-free, nutrient-rich and fun for felines. Last month, INABA launched Dashi Delights, a new unique side dish for cats crafted from a delicate broth made from dried wild-caught tuna (bonito flakes) mixed with shreds of carefully selected premium proteins, unleashing a new level of flavor for your cat.  These 2.5-ounce cups perfectly complement a bowl of dry kibble or top wet cat food. With 88 percent moisture, Vitamin E to support their immune system, and Green Tea Extract as a natural antioxidant, you can feel good about adding Dashi Delight to boost their meal.  Delight your cat’s taste buds with one of the eight recipes.

As with dogs, treats can be more than a way to spoil a cat. According to NPIC, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, it’s a common misconception that cats cannot be trained. In fact, NPIC believes that treats play an important role in cat training. Cat training is effective when it’s started during kittenhood. Ultimately, training a kitten is about bonding with them and understanding their motivation. Kittens can be independent, so training often takes patience and creativity. And using treat-based rewards can be a valuable tool when training a kitten. NPIC recommends a treat that is low in fat and high in protein, such as the brand’s Get Naked Biteables soft treats, as a reward that is bite-sized and will get the cat’s attention.

NPIC’s line of functional soft chews, Get Naked Biteables feature amino acids like lysine to support the immune system and taurine to support digestion and vision. In NPIC’s Get Naked Biteables Cat Health Plus treats, cranberries help to balance pH levels and manage bacterial buildup, while psyllium serves as a fiber in the Digestive Health Plus treats.

 

TOYS

Cats are highly intelligent animals that need their mind and body both stimulated. However, as with food and treats, they’re notoriously picky when it comes to the toys they choose to enjoy. As naturally curious creatures, a variety of textures can appeal to cats’ different ways to play.

Since being launched by Lorie Viner in 1988, Vee Enterprises prides itself on creating new, attractive and innovative products while maintaining its reputation of top-of-the-line quality. Using natural materials, the company offers safe, durable toys without using chemicals and dangerous metal parts. With cats having an affinity for the smell and texture of leather, Vee designed its PURRfect Leather Bouncer to satisfy these instincts. The best-selling, award-winning product features a 16-inch wand with an all-natural vegetable-tanned leather cord and a faux-fur end with leather tassels that cats can’t resist.

Cats crave lifelike toys to hunt, feathers to bat, corrugated material to scratch and catnip for an elevated level of enjoyment. When it comes to catnip, consumers are looking for an organic form as part of the larger trend of premiumization in pet products,

Duckyworld Products, which is headquartered in Minnesota, created its line of catnip toys, Yeowww! Catnip, with the focus on organic catnip due to it being safe for the companion animal. The catnip is organically grown, using only the leaves and flower tops while discarding the stems to be sure to include the parts of the plant that cats respond to the most. Having healthy plants translates to a blend of catnip that cats have a strong reaction to. Each DuckyWorld toy is filled 100 percent with this blend of catnip; there are no fillers of any kind. The brand’s toy line features bright colors and fun designs that stand out in the marketplace. The fun shapes of the toys are perfect for cats of all sizes, and they’re tough enough to withstand teeth and claws.

 

HOME GOODS

Toys aren’t the only place where catnip is popular. When it comes to cats in the home environment, scratching is a natural tendency for them. This is where scratching posts come into play. Often part of a cat tree, scratching posts often have catnip scent applied as an attractant.

Consumers are seeking durability and sustainability when it comes to cat trees and other home goods. In addition, cat trees and furniture that are eco-friendly and made of recycled products are growing in popularity.

When it comes to feeders and water bowls, ceramic (non-lead-glazed) and stainless steel bowls are the traditional forms that are steady sellers. Of course, variety is recommended, so non-tip bowls and raised bowls should be among any pet store’s offerings. Retailers should also stock automated food and water servers for those customers who live an on-the-go lifestyle that causes them to be away from home for long periods of time.

There are countless styles to today’s cat beds, including the Ripple Rug, which is a pet enrichment system that features a top rug with 14 holes of varying sizes that allow for a variety of configurations with the bottom rug. This allows cats to use it as a bed or a safe place to hide. Made by Snugglycat from 100 percent polyester fibers sourced from recycled, post-consumer plastic bottles, the rug is machine washable and resistant to mold, mildew and stains.

Distinctly Himalayan’s Karma Cat brand offers handcrafted cat beds made with lanolin, reminding cats of the scent of their mothers while keeping their paws and fur healthy. These unique beds come in a variety of shapes and colors to match any home décor. Designed to be healthy for cats and safe for the planet, these beds fuse comfort, durability and design with environmentally sustainable production and socially conscious business practices.

Meanwhile, the Zee.Cat cat bed is an ultra-comfortable and fully customizable, modular bed that complements the décor of your home. This bed features a removable screen that can be used to create a semi-enclosed cave. The pillow has a soft, fleece side for cold weather and a smooth, cozy side for warmer weather. The bed comprises three detachable pieces that make it easy to transport and store and is available in three colors.

 

LITTER

The cat litter category has evolved to include recycled paper, wood materials, silica gel and such plant-based ingredients as wheat and corn in the search for effective, low tracking materials. As with home goods, sustainability is a trend that’s becoming a driving force in the category. However, what’s even more important is knowing a cat’s instincts when it comes to its bathroom needs. It can help cat parents separate common behaviors from abnormal ones.

Additionally, retailers benefit from offering a different selection of cat litter types that cater to the instinctual needs and preferences of cats, especially when manufacturers are offering innovative litter options, such as those that include ingredients to eliminate odors, are dust-free and have effective clump strength. Although they share the same purpose, every cat litter is different, so retailers benefit by having an abundance of litter products.

Known for its litter as well as its cleanprotein line of cat food, Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat is the only feline-focused and veterinarian-owned, original solutions-based cat product company that addresses the needs of cats and their pet parents. Its litter lineup is trusted by cat parents for the product’s ability to help with such specific issues as inappropriate elimination, upper respiratory issues or stress problems. The brand follows the motto, “we make products that help cats, and their owners, live healthier, happier lives,” and its varied product assortment is extremely valuable to retailers and their customers.

 

HEALTH

The wellness category is getting more attention with cats being accepted as members of the family. However, cat parents tend to seek quick and easy solutions for what ails their felines. What’s important is that the proper health product is paired with the individual cat’s health need.

Grooming is underappreciated by cat parents, which is why brands have come up with innovative products to solve this issue. Pure and Natural Pet has created a Waterless Foaming Cat Shampoo that’s quick, easy and leaves no residue. Safe for cats 6 weeks and older, the U.S.-made, no-rinse formula is unscented and soothing for all cats, plus it relieves itching.

Several top brands can be found in the cat health sector, including Zesty Paws, which In March introduced three new supplements specifically for cats into its portfolio: Hemp Elements Plus Calming Bites, Hemp Elements Plus Hairball Bites and Aller-Immune Bites. To create the new plant-based cannabinoid (CBD) Hemp Elements Plus products, Zesty Paws partnered with CBDistillery, one of the nation’s largest distributors and retailers of hemp-derived CBD. The Aller-Immune Bites have been designed to help maintain normal histamine levels, provide antioxidants and support for seasonal allergies with ingredients like Astragalus Root, L-Lysine, and EpiCor Pets.

“As the cat category continues to grow, and we see more and more pet parents craving tailored supplements and CBD products specifically formulated for cats, we are excited to offer even more options for cat parents to support their feline family members,” said Steve Ball, CEO of Zesty Paws. “Across all our products, including this latest expansion to our cat portfolio, we’re committed to continue innovating to address the unique needs of pets and pet parents.”

Developed and tested by veterinarians, Silver Honey uses nature’s most powerful ingredients to give companion animals relief from painful cuts and scrapes.

According to Marjorie Murray, senior brand manager at W.F. Young, Otitis externa is a common feline ear condition of the outer ear canal that, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications like progressive tissue damage and deafness. The most common cause of these infections in cats – even indoor cats – is ear mites and allergies. If ear mites are present, pet parents should see their veterinarian. Cats are naturally talented at trying to hide their discomfort, so it is really important for pet parents to keep those ears clean and watch for any tell-tale signs like redness, swelling, head shaking or scratching, discharge and foul odor.

“As pet parents ourselves, we know that an increasing number of cat owners are looking for natural healing options instead of frequently prescribed antibiotics and are starting to feel more comfortable with starting treatment options at home due to potentially long wait times to get in to see their vet,” she said. “With Silver Honey Rapid Ear Care, retailers can provide their customers with the first effective over-the-counter product that combines manuka honey and MicroSilver BG to treat ear infections in 10 days. Both Silver Honey Ear Care Treatment and Silver Honey Pet Wipes were created specifically for use on cats and dogs.”

She added that routine cleaning of the ears is the best defense against ear infections. The brand’s Silver Honey Ear Care Pet Wipes are simple to use with a fingertip to gently wipe away dirt, wax and debris from the outer ear to avoid bacteria entering inside the inner ear. The wipes are antibiotic-free and designed to be soothing without any stinging, so even the most independent cat will tolerate this kind of TLC.

 

OUTDOOR GEAR

Carriers are a must-have item for cats, and they’re not only necessary for trips to the veterinarian. Heavy-duty, airline-approved carriers are becoming more popular with cat parents who are prone to long journeys. In addition, a growing number of cat parents are looking for specialized carriers to safely and comfortably keep cats close at hand in case of emergencies. Most of these durable carriers include a viewing window for pets and storage space for a leash, food and water.

For consumers who have cats that require some quality outdoor time, Leather Brothers has a line of leather cat collars, Signature Leather, made in the U.S.A. with a safety stretch band in them. The company also has a wide selection of other collar types and leashes in various colors and patterns that entice pet owners and add individuality and creativity, without sacrificing safety and durability. This is, in part, due to the company’s belief in asking and listening to customers because it is the best feedback manufacturers and retailers can get, which will translate to staying a step ahead in the pet industry.

ID tags and collars with up-to-date contact information are essential for cat parents whose cats run the risk of getting lost. Orlando, Fla.-based MyFamily USA, the U.S. distributor of MyFamily brand products, provides a variety of pet identification options, from engravable tags to tech-oriented items. When it comes to variety, cat parents have plenty of options to choose from, as MyFamily has a library of more than 100 different designs that can all be customized using the brand’s Techla engraving system.

MyFamily has garnered a reputation for its various high-quality collections, including cat collars and harnesses, that are all designed and manufactured at its facility in Valenza, Italy, with a focus on high quality while being fashion forward. MyFamily designers study the products intended for different pets and their different needs. For example, a MyFamily cat collar has a double layer of polyester that makes it extremely soft and comfortable for their need to feel free. Also, the collar’s quick release ensures the cat is safe during its outdoor adventures.

Cat ID tags have always been a part of our catalog, particularly in the Friends collection,” said Marco Boccellato, product manager at MyFamily. “However, the first collars dedicated to cats came out in 2022 as a part of the interactive memopet collection.”

Boccellato points to the Friends collection as the brand’s most popular ID tag, while the memopet collection is the hands-down winner among its cat collars due to it being more versatile in terms of usage, color options, being weather resistant, easy to clean and the accompanying app that allows cat parents to store their pet’s health and wellness information.

“The cat collars in the memopet collection have a special chip with NFC technology allowing you to pair the accessory to a smartphone and access a dedicated app to create your own pet profile,” Boccellato explained. “This provides you with an option to have detailed information about your pet on the app, from their name and household phone number to veterinary information.”

However, the innovations and technology of MyFamily’s collections enhance the brand’s stylish designs. As Boccellato describes it, a MyFamily product stands out in a crowd.

At MyFamily, we are not just thinking about the technical features of a product,” he noted. “In fact, we have a primarily a fashion-oriented mindset. We are always looking to add new collections that have a different essence to them and through this continuous implementation we hope to improve the concept of a pet lifestyle.”

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