A Lifetime of Health
Cat owners are searching for nutritional supplements that can increase feline health and wellness through every life stage.
Though cats are known as independent animals, their owners are dedicated to these felines and will search for health solutions that maximize the quality of life for these beloved creatures—a trend in which supplements figure prominently. But rather than adhering to the one-supplement-fits-all approach to feline health of the past, manufacturers are developing products that specifically address a variety of issues experienced by cats at all life stages.
One such issue is pet obesity—a problem that is far too prevalent among the cat population. To combat this problem and build a foundation for fitness during a cat’s entire lifetime, pet parents must remain diligent in providing the right nutritional supplements, as well as combining these products with an active exercise regimen. From kittenhood to the senior cat stage of life, inactivity can make felines especially prone to the threat of obesity.
“We found that changing the conversation from ‘The cat is fat’ to a fitness approach [often helps in getting a feline pet to] its healthiest weight,” says In Clover founder Rebecca Rose when discussing the benefits of her Svelte products. “You can help even more by putting the supplement into a treat ball. Cats love to chase things. Take the time to throw it for them. This will impact the cat more by learning how to work with their natural prey drive.”
Another important health-related issue among cats is anxiety. Despite felines’ reputation for having a cool temperament and aloof personality, these pets are susceptible to anxiety disorders, which could cause more severe health issues later in life. Emma Last, a registered veterinary nurse who serves as brand manager and trade marketing specialist at Dog Rocks, advises that, if left unaddressed, stress and anxiety can lead to serious, life-threatening health problems.
“A stressed cat will [suffer] high blood pressure, rapid breathing, slow digestion and increased heart rate, and [its] immune system becomes less effective,” she says. “Pet Remedy works alongside the brain’s natural ‘messengers’ called neurotransmitters, which work by telling the nerve receiving the message either to calm (via GABA pathway) or get fired up.”
The hidden dangers of feline anxiety can sometimes be overlooked when pet parents incorrectly identify the stress of their cats as misbehavior. Examining the causes of a cat’s aggressive behavior or incessant grooming could lead consumers to the correct calming solution after they recognize the problem as anxiety.
At Every Age and Life Stage
Starting from the early stages of life, cats rely on their mothers for basic nutrients that will form the foundation of a healthy body, carrying them through their entire lives. Consumers can aid in this process by providing kittens and their mothers with supplements that ensure these basic yet essential building blocks are safely included in the diets of these vulnerable pets. Michele Kaminski, PetAg’s director of marketing, reveals that the benefits of administering a probiotic to kittens and mother cats throughout their lives are as important to felines as they are to humans who use similar products.
“The neonate’s digestive tract is in its infancy and very sensitive, so the use of a probiotic is going to help provide protection to the gut during this time and valuable support to the immune system,” he says. “Likewise, the mother will benefit greatly from continuous support from a probiotic for all gut health needs, not just during the birthing period, but all through adulthood and into the senior years. Benebac Plus is simply an excellent probiotic for digestive health.”
Of course, a cat’s nutritional needs will shift during its senior years, and a greater focus on areas of the body vulnerable to degeneration becomes necessary. A daily supplement that provides many vitamins integral to feline health maintenance can be administered every day, yet different formulations that promote greater joint health are beneficial for older cats.
“Nutritional needs are different for all stages of a pet’s life. Our high-quality veterinarian formulations address and support the specific life-stage needs,” says Scott Garmon, president of Garmon Corp. “[For example,] NaturVet VitaPet Senior Daily Vitamins Plus Glucosamine provide extra joint support as well as a full spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals for senior cats.”
Clearing Up Confusion
When choosing which supplements to stock on their shelves, retailers should recognize the manufacturers whose claims are legitimate and the reasons their offerings are most suitable for a client’s cat. As this sector of the market continues to grow, confusion will arise, says Rose, who advises retailers to be more aggressive to distinguish between imposters and dedicated manufacturers who are creating quality supplements that benefit pet health.
“Get to know the company that makes the product and start at that level,” she says. “Ask the hard questions, such as ‘Do you have the NASC quality seal?’ or ‘Is the company developing all of their own products?’ [Manufacturers] can put blueberry on a label, but all blueberries aren’t created equal—sometimes it’s only stems and peels, but our [products] use the whole berry because the antioxidants are in the fruit.”
When helping pet parents, the job of retailers is to answer questions regarding product quality and efficacy, yet they must be a source for knowledge regarding supplements. Though many consumers research products prior to buying, certain details surrounding supplements remain a mystery, therefore they will rely on retailers to close the information gaps.
“Most consumers are not well versed on the functions of each vitamin and are more concerned with buying a balanced health supplement for their cat,” according to Garmon. “NaturVet supplements are formulated by educated veterinarians and chemists. Consumers can trust the NaturVet name and their products.”
Encountering retail staff with a vast knowledge of pet health, yet a limited selection of products is useless to consumers who need health supplements for their pets. Retailers must be prepared to propose a variety of solutions to address pet health issues and provide the knowledge to support their suggestions.
“Cats are considered to make lovely pets by many people because they’re relatively self-sufficient. However, this same benefit can sometimes create problems when things go awry,” says Last. “When a cat develops a behavior problem, pet parents are often at a loss as to how to solve it.”
Consumers who invest money into purchasing the highest quality products and devote time each day to engaging cats in daily exercise will enjoy a rich, fulfilling life with their pets. The retailers who emphasize the importance of this combination by educating pet parents will find that loyalty grows from consumer trust and see a return on investment of their own time devoted to caring for their clientele.