With the right product assortment and knowledgeable staff, retailers can essentially serve as health care providers for cat owners.
Feline healthcare pertains to every aspect of a cat’s life, from the physical to the mental, and pet specialty retailers are, practically speaking, among the main healthcare providers in many American feline’s lives. Retailers carry products that can certainly help improve a feline’s quality of life and health in every way–food and nutritional products, toys, cat furniture, grooming items, and even cleaning products all contribute to a cat’s wellbeing.
Helping customers maintain the optimum, long-term health of the family cat is an important service every pet specialty retailer can provide. Product referrals and sound advice can help sell the concept of “feline healthcare” to customers, who will certainly buy into the idea if it makes sense to them.
As with people, cat’s healthcare needs change with age. Cat customers may need an occasional reminder or gentle prodding to help keep their pets on the right track. Retailers have many opportunities to remind a customer that it might be time to switch to a different life-stage diet, increase the amount of exercise their pet gets or look at ways to control their cat’s weight gain. Conversation, personal greetings via mail or email, endcaps, in-store merchandising and product referrals are just a few ways to deliver the message.
It can be particularly helpful to have a checklist of healthcare essentials. The list should include the daily and ongoing requirements for healthy feline living. There are several ways to use this list, along with the intended message. Endcaps always make great tools; for example, post signage highlighting a couple of bullet points from the checklist along with the corresponding products that go with the display. Larger items in the cat aisle and smaller items around the register can also make great displays.
Be creative in your approach. Get the message out to your cat customers that there are many things they can and should be doing to create a healthy environment and ensure a healthy life. Healthy long-lived cats are not accidents–they are a result of a responsible and caring pet owner. Here is a sample checklist retailers can use as a guide:
TEN WAYS TO PROMOTE HEALTHY LIVING IN A CAT’S WORLD
1. Preventative Maintenance: This can go a very long way. Routine veterinary visits and checkups, keeping current on inoculations and maintaining a regular parasite-control program are vital for ensuring great feline health.
2. Daily Exercise: Daily exercise is easily provided with toys, furniture and scratching posts. Interactive toys, feather wands, balls, laser toys and catnip products all encourage activity–even for the less-active adult cat.
3. Comfort: Providing for a domestic cat’s comfort is also an important part of healthcare. Comfort reduces stress, which in turn is important in maintaining a healthy immune system and mental health. Cat condos, furniture, beds, cushions, pillow, heating pads, window shelves and scratching posts all do a great job of this.
4. Socialization: Teaching a new cat or kitten to be social can affect its mental and physical health. Non-social pets can be very aggressive by hissing, scratching, biting and hiding. Social cats will learn coordination and balance. They are more outgoing, calmer, display less signs of stress and develop stronger bonds with their owners. Planned play periods and family interaction, along with a great selection of interactive toys will fill the bill.
5. Cleanliness: A clean, odor-free environment is important for optimum health. This includes in and around the litter box, food and water bowls and everywhere the cat is allowed in the home. Odors are a result of bacteria. Stain-and-odor-removal products should be present in every cat household.
6. Proper Nutrition: Provide the proper diets for the different life stages at appropriate times. Premium and specialty diets can help prevent and solve health-related issues. Always provide plenty of fresh, clean water. A nutritionally sound diet is imperative for long health and vitality.
7. Regular Grooming: The skin, coat, ears, eyes, teeth and nails should all be given regular attention. Daily brushing, along with ensuring skin, ears and eyes are free from infection and parasites will help guarantee health. The pet aisle should be loaded with a variety of combs, brushes, ointments, nail clippers and dental-care products.
8. Dietary Supplements: Provide supplements when necessary, such as in instances of stress, convalescing, nursing or pregnancy.
9. Parasite Control: Ensure pets are free of internal and external parasites. Parasites rob their hosts of important nutrients, affect the skin and coat condition, and cause stress in pets.
10. Green Products: Provide a selection of green products that promote healthy living, a healthy lifestyle and a healthy environment. Green products and natural and organic products can also pave the road to good health for the domestic feline.
Increased feline longevity, successful pet/owner relationships and stronger human/animal bonding are the end results when a regular healthcare regimen is in–not to mention, a healthy family cat that is the epitome of health.
John Tyson is a freelance writer and photographer who resides in Houston, Texas. He has 20 years combined experience in the pet industry as a multi-store owner, general manager and industry journalist.