Throughout their long history, cats have been shrouded in secrecy. Their wild, independent nature is the thing that contributes to our infatuation, and often, exasperation, with these creatures.
While thousands of years of domestication have done little to change a cat’s sometimes aloof nature, it has done much to change how we provide for them.
Retailers are in the unique position to educate customers on how to provide nutritional, mental and emotional stimulation for their cats. These days, preventative medicine is the key to this trifecta.
“Cat owners view their pets’ health as a high priority, yet many are unaware of the subtle warning signs that indicate their animals are suffering,” Dr. Jack Stephens, president and founder of Pets Best, said. “Cats hide their symptoms much better than dogs. Cats will often only present with symptoms when it is too late to fix. This is why preventative medicine, such as blood tests, is so critical, because oftentimes, it’s the only way to determine the existence of a problem. Pets Best offers an affordable way to cover expensive healthcare for pets.”
Along with preventative care, there is a renewed focus on feline nutrition.
“In my opinion, good nutrition is the single most important factor in promoting longevity and quality of life for your pet,” Marie Moody, founder of Stella & Chewy’s, said. “Minimally processed foods retain more vital nutrients, and animals thrive on this type of diet. We have heard from pet owners that while feeding Stella & Chewy’s their animals have a healthier appetite and better digestion, increased stamina and vitality, healthier coat and skin, fewer allergies and less obesity.”
While most pet owners want what is best for their cats, they may not know the best way to provide it, a theory confirmed by a recent survey conducted by Royal Canin in coordination with global insights firm Kelton.
“Cat owners unknowingly make food selections that could be harmful to their pet’s health. Half, 50 percent feed their cat a variety of different forms of food, unaware that variety is bad for a cat’s diet,” according to the survey. “In addition, about one in five feed their cat foods they may have sensitivities to, such as milk, 21 percent, and dairy products, 18 percent.”
Treats can further complicate a cat’s diet, which is why minimally processed, low-calorie treats should be used to encourage training.
“Our four new Purrfectly Natural single-ingredient cat treats offer the quality and health benefits of shrimp, buffalo, beef lung and chicken at a very competitive price point for retailers and cat owners alike,” Eric Abbey of Loving Pets, said.
New treat delivery systems, like Lickety-Stik, can also help.
“At only one calorie per ten licks, it’s easy to reward great behavior without fear of packing on the pounds,” Tracey Quillin, category manager at PetSafe, said.
While a protein-based diet is of critical importance with our obligate carnivores, it’s also important to provide fresh cat grasses to help your cat increase fiber intake.
When selecting a brand of catnip to carry in stores, it’s important to focus on organic, locally-sourced herbs.
“Organic catnip is beneficial as it keeps intact more of the essential oils in the catnip plant that cause cats to respond,” Robert Cohrs of the Kong Company, said.
One of the biggest struggles cat owners face is getting their pets to drink enough water, but it’s very important for their health. A pet fountain can help owners avoid many health problems by increasing fluid intake.
“Cats drink more water when it is flowing” Robin Hawn of PetSafe, said. “With our patented free-falling stream of water, the fountains continually aerate your pets water with oxygen. Increased fluid intake helps prevent, and often eliminate, recurrent urinary tract infections and other problems.”
Drinkwells pet fountains use charcoal filters to keep water fresh and appealing.
Grooming is also a very important part of maintaining a cat’s mental and physical health.
Oster Animal Care and ShedMonster Professional De-Shedding Tools are now available from Jarden Animal Solutions.
“Treating your cat to frequent brushing with gentle deshedding tools will help prevent matting, decrease the amount of fur around the house, support a shiny and healthy coat, and reduce the challenges of hairballs,” Justin Crout, group marketing manager for Jarden Animal Solutions/Jarden Consumer Solutions, said.
Despite our best efforts in nutrition and grooming, cats can still be susceptible to skin problems. The most common conditions resulting from infections, flea bites, mites and yeast. Since cats are highly sensitive to toxins, many of these common skin irritants can be easily resolved with natural solutions.
“DERMagic Feline Skin Rescue lotion offers cats fast and effective relief from skin irritations, hot spots, scaly skin, flea allergies, dermatitis, and dry skin conditions,” Dr. Adelia Ritchie, founder of DERMagic, said.
Beyond the physical needs of cats are their instinctual needs. Creating a natural habitat for a cat can eliminate many behavioral problems.
“Our focus is on bringing the outdoors in,” Joe Delmonico, founder of Pet Tree Houses, said. “We understand the instinctive nature of cats and focus on creating a habitat that is organic.”
Other instinctual needs of cats include the ability to observe, chase, stalk and pounce. A stimulating environment can be easily satisfied with practical toys and activities that simulate these processes. Neko Flies and WorldWise are two companies creating realistic experiences for cats.
“When I created the Neko Flies toy, my goal was to create a toy that could simulate a realistic hunting experience,” Ellen Tsyuaki, owner of Nekochan Enterprises, said. “Our toy encourages all elements of a hunt, such as stalking, chasing and jumping, and has improved the lives of cats around the world.”
Worldwise creates products with the cat, and its owner in mind.
“All of our furniture and toys fall under one of twelve categories,” Shannon McWilliams, vice president of product development at Worldwise, said. “Our Pet Links line of products enables cat owners to easily select the best products for their cats by educating the retailer on their complex needs. Our SmartyKat product line includes simple packaging designed to identify a cat’s basic needs and help consumers understand how to best resolve problem behaviors.”
For cats that don’t quite know how, or where, to play, or who need encouragement to do so, there is the new line of SuperCat catnip-infused products from Quaker Pet Group.
“Keeping cats active and stimulated is so important to their health,” Cristen Underweood, director of marketing for Quaker Pet Group, said. “In creating our patented new SuperCat line of microencapsulated catnip toys and interactive accessories, we want cat-parents to not only get their cats moving and feel engaged, but also develop product innovations that strengthen the bond between cat and the people that love them.”
Cat customers need to evaluate the physical, mental and emotional needs of their pets when thinking about resources.
“Cat products have skyrocketed in the past several years,” Abby Bishop, manager of Only Natural Pet Store in Boulder, Colo., said. “The selection has increased and guardians of even the pickiest of cats can now find toys that appeal to them.”