Cat Climbers and Scratchers
There are so many varieties of cat scratchers and climbers on the market that retailers are going to need to help educate customers on the best option for their cat’s lifestyle.
Even though a pet parent’s favorite house cat may seem accustomed to its life indoors, that doesn’t mean it has forgotten its natural, instinctual behaviors. Scratching allows cats to relieve stress and leave their marks, while climbing makes them feel safe.
“Scratching is a natural way for cats to keep their claws healthy, as it helps shed loose layers from the claw and it’s also a way for them to leave their scent marks on their territory,” says Sarah Johnson, sales coordinator at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You).
“Scratching also serves to help cats work through and reduce stress and gives them an outlet for their energy, providing them with exercise, which is especially important for indoor-only cats.
“By providing ample scratchers around the house, not only is it great for the cat, but it can also help save household furniture not meant for scratching.”
San Francisco-based P.L.A.Y. manufactures cat scratchers, as well as beds, teepees and tunnels. The company’s Arty scratcher is very popular because of its unique shape and style that blends in with pet parents’ home decor.
“Arty is constructed of two pieces that can be arranged in a variety of ways, providing multiple surfaces and angles to handle every cat’s needs,” says Johnson. “Pet parents can rearrange it to keep it new and interesting as well by allowing their cats to play and scratch in different ways.”
CatClaws also manufactures cat scratchers in a variety of different shapes and sizes—from sofas and loungers to fish and sports. The company’s vice president, Ginger Bussey, agrees with Johnson and believes scratchers are important for the general health of cat.
“Scratching is a form of exercise for your cat, it stretches and strengthens their muscles,” Bussey says. “Scratching also removes the dead outer layer of the cat’s claw and hones the nail. In addition, scratching is used to mark their territory by leaving a visual mark and scent from their paws.”
The company’s most popular item is its Mega Scratch n’ Pad.
“People love it because it’s an oversized flat scratcher that cats not only scratch, it gives them plenty of room for a stretched out catnap!” says Bussey.
The Hauspanther Collection by Primetime Petz has two new products in the scratching category: the MaxScratch oversized cat scratcher and the Scratch Pole adjustable under-table cat scratcher.
“The MaxScratch is a significant piece of furniture. It’s large and sturdy with extra thick jute rope wrapped around a wide-diameter column, creating a built-in perch on top,” says Kate Benjamin, designer of the Hauspanther Collection by Primetime Petz. “There is no other scratcher on the market that is this diameter with a perch that is already built in, and cats absolutely love to climb to the top of a scratcher and sit.”
Along with the new scratchers, the Rockwall, Texas-based company manufactures a variety of wall-mounted scratchers and perches.
Aside from scratching, climbing is another important behavior for cats as it simulates being up high, allowing a cat to feel both protected and vigilant.
“Climbing lets cats survey their territory, allowing them to see what’s going on in the room,” says Benjamin. “Remember, cats are both predator and prey, so being up high gives them an advantage to see any potential threats or snacks.”
The CATchall from Primetime Petz hangs on the wall and creates a small perch that cats can use climb and jump to other shelves or walkways. It’s multi-functional, combining scratching, climbing and storage into one unit.
“Cats climb because it makes them feel safe when they are high up, where they can see what’s going on around and below them,” says Kathy Tsai, founder of Petique. “Climbing is part of their natural survival instincts.”
The Ontario, Canada-based company manufactures multiple cat houses that are made to allow cats to both climb and scratch. The Feline Fortress Cat House has seven built-in scratchboards and is big enough to support multiple cats, perfect for distracting felines from other furniture.
“It is very beneficial to have cat climbers if you do not want your cats to climb on your furniture like kitchen counters, drapery rods or bookcases,” says Tsai.
Petique debuted its new London Bridge Cat House at Global Pet Expo in March, which extends up and sideways, creating more climbing surface for kitties to enjoy.
Ontario, Canada-based PetPals also deems climbing an important aspect in any cat’s life. The company produces a multitude of cat trees available in two, three, four and five levels that include paper posts, hiding spots and attached swinging toys.
“Cat trees have enough space for cats to climb and scratch, which provides a lot of fun for cats to play when cat parents don’t have enough time to pet them,” says Sarah Sun, product development at PetPals.
She adds that the 2019 model has a new design to fit into the decor of any customer’s home.
When it comes to marketing these products in stores, manufacturers have some suggestions on how retailers can turn this category into sales.
“The biggest thing that retailers can do to successfully market scratching and climbing products is to dedicate an area of the store to display the items in context, in a similar way that Ikea creates entire display homes within the store,” says Benjamin.
She adds that if retailers could incorporate actual cats into the display—either using their own or inviting a rescue group with adoptable cats in—it would drive sales, as customers would see firsthand just how much cats enjoy the product.
Johnson notes that it is also important for retailers to offer variety. That means selling scratchers and climbers in an array of sizes, shapes, materials and styles to best fit into the home of any customer. Every cat parent has different needs, so this allows them to find the right fit for their home.
“Staff should be educated on the different options and ready to talk with customers about what their specific needs or priorities are to help steer them to the best fit,” says Johnson. “Since a sales associate may not always be available, it can also be helpful to have some informational signage included in a dedicated scratcher display area to help educate customers on the benefits of these items and what the different styles offer.”
She adds that while the company doesn’t have any releases planned for this category at the moment, it is working to expand its cat offerings.
“The overall cat product category is steadily growing, with an increasing demand for new and unique products,” says Johnson. “So, we expect to see continued innovation and creativity for scratchers and other cat-specific items in the future.”
In fact, many industry experts believe that this category is going to continue to grow, making it imperative for retailers to incorporate these products into their offerings.
“We are always developing new scratcher shapes to follow the current market trends,” says Bussey. “Cat scratchers are a product that is here to stay, every cat needs their own place to scratch!” PB