Cleaning House

The market is brimming with products designed to meet cat owners’ household-cleaning needs.


One of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a feline-owning family is to have a visitor come to the house and comment, “You must have a cat.”  Cat odors can subtly appear at the most inopportune times, much to the dismay of many homeowners. Since a cat will pretty much frequent every part of the house, cleaning up must cover more than just the litter box.

The inventory in the cat aisle should include products that can be used throughout the entire house–products that work on carpet, hardwood floors, walls, countertops, household furniture, cat furniture, trash cans, around and in litter boxes, in the air, and even outdoors.

There are dozens of opportunities to sell cleaning products associated with cats and cat households. The latest litter boxes, litter, liners, scoops, filters, sprays, liquid cleaners, disinfectants, odor removers, stain removers and charcoal should all be in the arsenal of cleaning supplies for every cat owner. Odor-control products, such as shampoos and deodorizers, that can be used on the cat are equally important.

Matter of Choice
Product choices in this category can be quite extensive. In addition to odor-removing products, there are stain-removing products. Some can do both. There are products that only mask an odor with something less offensive–not necessarily a good thing for the feline’s superior sense of smell.

Odors can also linger, hide and reappear on damp rainy days. Often, pet stains seem to inexplicably reappear over time, so choosing and recommending a product that actually removes or neutralizes the odor and eliminates the stain is crucial, both for the cat and the homeowner. Success for the cat owner is only likely when a product does the job that it is marketed to do. Happy customers go hand-in-hand with working products.

Cat urine has a tendency to grow bacteria, producing the strong ammonia odor that is easily recognized and associated with cat urine. Many of the most successful odor removing products will contain ‘live’ bacteria and enzymes to break down the odor-causing bacteria, thus neutralizing the odor. These products will literally get down into the fibers of the carpet and padding below, where odors have a tendency to rise and haunt frustrated housing occupants.

Cats that urinate outside of the litter box are one of the most common problems associated with cat ownership. Proper cleaning in and around the litter box can help prevent this problem from occurring. Retailers should sell the concept of preventative maintenance. Keeping the litter box and the surrounding area is key. Instruct customers to remove soiled litter daily and to wash the litter box weekly, making sure to wash the floor surrounding it.

Keep it Fresh
Cat owners shouldn’t forget to clean and deodorize the garbage can or trashcan where soiled litter is placed. Some air fresheners don’t do anything to remove odors. They merely mask odor and don’t get at the root of the problem. However, they do have a purpose. An air freshener may be just what is needed for a quick fix. Other air fresheners can neutralize odors, but in every case, the source of the odor should always be the target for cat owners.

Products containing charcoal, such as air filters, litter-box filters and others, will absorb odors. These have a purpose, but there again, retailers should teach customers to attack the source of the odor and remove it when possible. 

We live in a green world, and if green cleaning supplies are not in a retailer’s assortment, they should be.  Many chemical cleaners and disinfectants contain toxic ingredients. Many are also less than eco-friendly, making them definite turn-offs for some customers. Retailers should include some natural choices to help create an eco-friendly environment.   

During the holiday season, new products can be grouped with toys, cat furniture, beds, scratching items and crates for added exposure and sales. As always, products on endcaps should be rotated frequently. Retailers should also post high-quality signage, and perhaps even create a list or a kit of “must-have” cleaning items for every cat owner, throwing in a few toys for fun. The holidays are a great time to sell packaged items as gifts for families with cats.

Cleaning is a necessity for every pet owner and can sometimes be one of the more frustrating and least enjoyable experiences that accompany cat ownership. Pet specialty shops can, however, help make the experience less stressful and take the guesswork out of product selection with great service and by providing great products that work throughout the house, steering the way for an odor-free environment in a feline household.

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.

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