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Pet Product News Features Natura Petz Organics Making Feline Wellness A Priority

Help Make Feline Wellness a Priority

Many cat owners aren’t aware of the variety of products that are available to them to ensure the health and safety of their pets, and it is up to retailers to educate them.

Pet Product News features Natura Petz Organics Feline Wellness as a Priority

The number of cat health and safety products available is growing—but that hasn’t always been the case. Over the years, the increasing number of cat owners coupled with better education from manufacturers and retailers have helped to address the wellness needs of cats. But to be successful in this category, retailers must persist in educating customers on hot topic health concerns.

Among these concerns, inappropriate elimination remains the No. 1 behavioral reason that cats are surrendered to shelters and euthanized, said Gina Zaro, marketing director for Dr. Elsey’s Cat Products in Englewood, Colo. Dr. Elsey’s addresses this issue with litter products designed to bring the cat back to the box with natural herb attractants and pleasing litter textures.

In addition to urinary tract and kidney issues, Samantha Henson, a certified clinical pet nutritionist and merchandising manager at Premier Pet Supply, which has stores in Michigan, said that hot topics are hairball control and dental care. Henson said these are staying trends as they can affect any cat at virtually any time in its life.

Heidi L. Nevala, president of Natura Petz Organics in Minneapolis, said the cat health and wellness space has been opening up as cat ownership increases and pets are humanized as being “part of the family.”  

“Historically, cats have had less representation in terms of wellness products, despite having similar needs as dogs,” Nevala said. “Look for dramatic expansion in terms of cat-specific formulas and product offerings. Pet parents continue to become better educated on wellness and, as such, are sourcing natural and organic wellness solutions for issues that are not well addressed by conventional means, including urinary tract health, stone formation, anxiety, weight and metabolic issues.”

New Products

Emerald Pet Products in Walnut Creek, Calif., has upgraded the ingredients and improved the packaging of its Smart n’ Tasty Feline Health Treats. The Hairball formula includes salmon oil, coconut oil, bromelain and papain to reduce hairballs, while the Urinary Tract formula includes cranberry, coconut oil and dandelion leaf extract, said Glenn Novotny, vice president of sales and marketing.

Oscar Newman LLC of Batavia, Ill., launched CocoTherapy Hairball Plus in March. What sets the hairball control formula apart, according to the company, is that it is made with a single ingredient, coconut, which has been dehydrated at low temperatures and is raw. It contains no gluten, mineral oil or petroleum. The result is a raw formula that retains all the health-boosting properties of medium chain triglycerides from coconut, according to the manufacturer.

On the safety side, Co-Leash in Tampa, Fla., has a new glow-in-the-dark cat collar that is helping prevent injury to cats that get underfoot at night, said founder Mike Forte. The collar also is useful for spotting cats that might have escaped the house at night, Forte said.

“We’re filling a unique need,” Forte said. “Black cats are historically less adoptable because people worry they’ll lose them. That’s all cured with a simple collar.” 

Displaying Health Products

Because cat owners don’t always consider potential health issues, some sources reported that a separate cat health section could cause products to get overlooked. While the common approach always has been to create a remedy section within the store that is separated from the treat section, Glenn Novotny, vice president of sales and marketing for Emerald Pet Products in Walnut Creek, Calif., suggests that all treats be grouped together.

“Retailers that put the health treats with the regular treat section see a big increase in sales of prevention types of products,” Novotny said. “If you think about how cat food is positioned with hairball formula mixed right in with regular formula, it makes sense. Many consumers don’t think about the health issues their cat has until they are already planning to buy a treat and realize they can upgrade to a better-quality one.”

When it comes to wellness, displays should be educational, said Heidi L. Nevala, president of Natura Petz Organics in Minneapolis. She also suggests utilizing events to market the importance of health and safety products.

“There are so many ways to innovate,” she said. “From seasonal solutions and wellness seminars to high-level information about how a pet’s body system works—these all provide the information that pet parents crave. By providing information, you’ll deliver expertise and confidence to the customer.” 

Customer Education

pet product news making feline wellness a priority natura petz organics

Educating cat owners appears to be a challenge for many retailers. Ryan Oaks, owner of Mini-Critters in Sioux Falls, SD., said this is because cat owners tend to dislike change. He has found that many cat owners who come into his store want to stick with products they’ve always used. As a result, they might even fail to notice when their cat has a health concern that might alter those product needs.

“Cats are not as simple as people like to think,” Oaks said. “They have health issues just like dogs, but the challenge is educating the owner about it when they don’t really want to make changes. Sometimes we just have to be persistent. Cat health issues aren’t always as obvious as they are with dogs, but the signs are there, and the owners need to be educated on what to look for.”

Darrell Perkins, co-owner of Fin & Feather Pet Center in Richmond, Va., agreed.

“I could literally be giving out free product and cat owners will refuse it because they tend to get stuck in their ways,” Perkins said. “Educating the customer is a big challenge, but it’s important to find ways to reach the customer. For us, it’s often about asking questions.”

Gina Zaro, marketing director for Dr. Elsey’s Cat Products in Englewood, Colo., said that opening the line of communication by asking questions is the best approach. If a consumer comes in looking for an odor-removal product, for instance, the retailer can then ask whether the cat is not using the litterbox. Once a conversation gets started, it is easier to make product suggestions. 

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Pet Product News.


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