Cat scratchers play an important role in ensuring quality of life for felines and their owners, and retailers should be ready to help with a variety of these cat aisle essentials.
Everyone who owns a cat knows that if they don’t want their furniture to end up in shredded tatters, they need to have some sort of cat scratcher and climber. But long gone are the days when DIYers would simply nail a two-by-four to a square base, staple some old carpet onto it and call it a day. Today’s pet owners are seeking out professionally designed cat scratchers ranging from simple floor and wall-mounted products to more flexible and extensive structures that can be modified to fit any cat’s moods and nature.
Founded in the 1980s, Cat Claws got in on this trend early by offering a single corrugated cardboard back scratcher. Since then, the company has blossomed as cat owners have increasingly turned to their local pet specialty retailers for scratching solutions.
“We began with our standard USA-made, flat, corrugated cat scratcher and now have a complete line of cat products, including fun, corrugated shape scratchers, toys and litter accessories,” says Cat Claws marketing specialist Brittany Windham. “All of our cat scratchers are made in the USA and are available to distributors, wholesalers and retail consumers.”
The Cat Claws Scratching Pad is the company’s No. 1 item and is engineered with corrugated cardboard permeated with 100 percent pure Naturally Nip Catnip. It is designed to ensure a cat’s health, keep its claws honed and be its own personal scratching place, not to be confused with furniture. The pad measures approximately 19 inches by 5 inches and fits in the company’s single or double tray, single or double Climb N Claw tray and its standard Wall Mount Scratcher.
According to Windham, retailers can enhance sales of products like the Cat Claws Scratching Pad by educating consumers and promoting made in the USA products. “Educate the consumers by teaching them about the cat’s natural instincts to scratch and hunt, and offer solutions and products to keep the cat happy,” she says. “Consumers want and look for USA-made pet products and, if you are selling them, draw attention to that.”
For cat owners who are looking for something more elaborate than a simple scratcher, MidWest Homes for Pets offers its line of Feline Nuvo Cat Furniture. The multi-tiered design allows climbing and perching high above the ground, and multiple surfaces are large and sturdy for lounging and sleep. A ball and bell adorns each piece for play and recreation, and sisal-wrapped supports provide a tough, resilient scratching post for grooming and fulfilling a cat’s need to scratch.
“Our newest line of Feline Nuvo furniture features beautiful, all-natural, woven rattan with ultra-soft black faux fur and designer print fabric,” says Tara Whitehead, director of marketing and communications for MidWest Homes for Pets. “The distinctive and attractive prints and fabrics make Feline Nuvo stand out in the cat furniture category.”
For retailers who want to increase their stores’ cat furniture sales, Whitehead offers one simple yet often overlooked piece of sales advice. “It is important to display at least one piece of furniture from the product line, so pet parents can see and experience the sturdiness, quality and size of the product,” she says.
According to Darryl Hodgins, marketing spokesman for Omega Paw, variety is the key to retail success in the cat scratcher product category. Consumers are looking for more variety and innovation, which Hodgins says is fueled in part by the growth of online retailers that offer items not normally found on local retail store shelves. This is especially true for the cat segment.
“Traditional brick-and-mortar stores have always dedicated a larger portion of their pet sections for dog accessories, and the cat accessories section has been significantly smaller with very little variety,” says Hodgins. “Now that online retailers are playing a major part in the pet marketplace, manufactures are able to offer cat accessories that were simply too large or too numerous for the traditional store shelves.”
One of the products that Omega Paw offers is the Lean-It-Anywhere cat scratcher line. Available in a variety of sizes, this scratching post can be leaned against a wall at any angle and used on any floor surface, be it carpet, vinyl or hardwood. To complement the line, Omega Paw has added a sisal model.
“We’ve added our first Sisal Lean-It-Anywhere Scratching Post,” says Hodgins. “It is a beautiful scratching post that will look great in any home and takes up less room on store shelves and in shipping and warehousing.”
In order to keep up with online competitors, Hodgins suggests that retailers expand their paradigms and try to be unique.
“It is all about variety and newness,” he says. “Retailers need to carry something different than the store down the road. I encourage retailers to look for new products, new styles and new ways of doing things. Those are the things that bring consumers back for more.”
Areas of innovation that cat owners are particularly focused on in the cat scratcher category include the types of materials used in the construction of these products, says Stephen Sun, president of PetPals.
“We have found that nowadays, consumers will ask more about the material and appearance of cat trees and are eco-conscious and want to make sure that the furniture can be blended into their home décor,” Sun says.
To fill that need, PetPals recently introduced the Loft. Made of natural wood with sisal for scratching, the Loft offers multiple tiers and a ladder allowing cats to jump. It also includes a condo, so cats can have privacy when it is siesta time.
According to Sun, retailers who want to put greater emphasis on selling products like the Loft must ensure that their staff understands feline habits, including climbing, hiding, scratching, purring and napping.
“Cat furniture should not only be of the proper height but be constructed out of the right material and have locations for all of the cat’s habits, including scratching,” he says.
KATRIS Cat is another manufacturer that is leveraging pet owners’ increasing attraction to products made from natural and eco-friendly materials. The company’s earth-friendly KATRIS LYNKS is a modular cat scratcher system that allows cat owners to create a number of combinations to meet a feline’s needs to stretch, scratch, climb and play.
“The modular LYNKS cat scratching system is shred resistant, durable, long lasting and 100 percent recyclable and non-toxic,” says Robin Tan, director of business development for KATRIS. “Its modularity allows it to be changed to a different configuration when feline family members get bored, want a new climbing challenge and start scratching furniture.”