The Latest Trends in Cat Litter
By using a discerning selection process, retailers can offer a comprehensive range of litter formulas to accommodate the needs of cat owners.
While cats are known to be independent creatures, they do require a lot of care to meet their health and well being needs. Choosing a litter with special formulas or ingredients is necessary to ensure cats maintain a healthy body through regular elimination in their boxes. Retailers should devote time to examine how longstanding, trusted brands are remaining successful by navigating trends. They should also stay aware of innovative newcomers that are incorporating new ingredients into formulas. By doing these things, retailers will be able to guide pet parents to the products that best suit their cats.
Similar to the need to change pet food formulas with each life stage, cats need different types of litter to accommodate the changing demands of age. Kittens need formulas that help with litter-box training and will keep their tiny paws free of clumps, while adults might require products that suit their specific environment or personality, such as a multi-cat or unscented variety.
When selecting litter for senior cats, pet parents must consider many factors, as these animals are not as agile as younger cats. They might also need to use the litter box more often due to kidney issues or urinary tract infections, explains says Josh Wiesenfeld, CEO of Los Angeles-based Boxiecat LLC.
“Adding an extra litter box in the home can help older cats get to the box in time,” he advises. “Many older cats develop arthritis, so providing boxes with shorter entry on all sides can prevent unnecessary pain when entering and leaving the box, as well as help ensure an older cat will want to keep using the box.”
A major issue with feline care is elimination outside the litter box. While pet parents might believe this is due to a health or personality issue with their cats, it could simply be due to litter preference. Retailers have a responsibility to ensure their customers are considering all possible issues that could contribute to their cats having elimination issues outside the box.
“Consumers need to be open to the idea that their cat might be eliminating outside of the box due to not liking their litter,” explains Jean Broders, senior brand manager at Kent Pet Group located in Muscatine, Iowa, noting that the main reason cats are surrendered to shelters is because they fail to use the litter box. “This could be due to lack of odor control, not being scooped regularly, too much dust or not liking the litter texture. Litter can be a solution.”
When shopping for cats of any age, consumers focus on performance, as this is a common concern shared by all feline pet parents, regardless of their animals’ age. Cat litter that performs well produces little dust, results in no tracking, controls odors and will yield clumps that don’t break apart; thereby, promoting a healthy environment within the home.
“Low tracking is a very important attribute, because it provides cat owners more time to spend with their cats, and less time cleaning litter tracks,” says Gina Zaro marketing director of Englewood, Colo.’s Dr. Elsey’s Cat Products. “Customers continue to want a superior litter product that is low dust, hard clumping and low tracking.”
Finding Sustainable Litter Formulas
While the primary concern for pet parents is the well being of their families, which includes their animals, an increasing number of consumers are considering the health of the planet. Manufacturers of pet products have been accommodating the demand for greener goods across categories, including the litter segment.
“The natural product category continues to see growth year after year, in part due to the organic growth of the pet population and pets per household,” reveals Helen Cantrell, director of sales and marketing for Naturally Fresh, located in Corning, Calif. “There is a general trend toward healthier products, which tends to be driven by the millennial market and those who are more concerned about environmental impact.”
Caring for the planet is only one aspect of a larger sustainable-litter story. A close examination of the companies that manufacture the products is also a major part of the new ethics-focused consumer mindset. When cat-litter manufacturers remain transparent about their ingredient sourcing and are able to prove their products contain ethically-sourced materials, consumers will view this corporate responsibility as an additional benefit.
“Increasingly consumers, especially younger generations, across all industries are looking for products that are produced by companies that practice social responsibility,” says Joe Davids, the chairman and CEO of Sydney-headquartered Galuku. “From fashion to cat litter, younger generations care that what they consume is ethically, sustainably and responsibly produced from a social standpoint.”
For retailers to successfully connect with customers who are shopping for cat litter, they must recognize the potential in this category for providing safe products that can promote a high quality of life and feline wellness.
“Retailers need to be ahead of the trends and understand the needs of their customers in order to provide thoughtful information and a path to the right choice,” reveals Zaro. “It is also important to not overwhelm customers by curating brands and choices that are in line with trends and creating cohesiveness at the shelf.”
The perfect retail litter-box selection offers a variety of options to satisfy the needs of different cats—and their pet parents—without burdening shoppers with too many products that aren’t suitable for their cats’ different lifestyles. PB