Litter Boxes and Accessories
The litter box category is home to innovative solutions that make cleaning up after cats more convenient.
A litter box no longer has to be an odorous eyesore for cat owners. Manufacturers now offer sleek boxes and handy accessories that are specially designed to fight odors and contain messes. By staying on top of trends within this burgeoning category, retailers can make thoughtful and trustworthy recommendations to a growing customer base of cat owners.
For OurPets, new developments in cat waste management center on the use of technology. Located in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, the manufacturer’s products often have a focus on pet health.
“We believe the market is moving towards higher tech pet products that will make cleaning the litter box much easier,” says Brian Astman, national sales manager, corporate accounts for OurPets. “OurPets’ No Touch system includes an intelligent litter box that will monitor the elimination behavior of the cat to detect early symptoms related to urinary tract infection, bladder obstruction, diabetes, etc.”
The No Touch system’s SmartScoop – Intelligent Litter Box uses infrared technology to determine when a cat enters and leaves. The Bluetooth-enabled product sends information about elimination behavior, health and box maintenance to an app on the cat owner’s smartphone. It also utilizes an automatic scoop mechanism to place waste into a bin, making a dirty chore touch-free.
“Automatic litter boxes are getting more popular because pet parents are looking for an easy way to attend to their litter box duties,” says Astman.
Like the SmartScoop, the Roll ‘N Clean Self-Cleaning Litter Box from Omega Paw streamlines litter box maintenance. Based in Ontario, Canada, Omega Paw manufactures and markets both cat and dog products.
“To clean the Roll ‘N Clean Self-Cleaning Litter Box, you simply roll it 180 degrees onto its top and then roll it back again,” says Terry Hannaford, Omega Paw’s CEO. “This simple step separates the clumped litter and any other cat waste and places it into the removable tray while the clean litter flows back into the bottom of the litter box.”
Hannaford explains that because the Roll ‘N Clean Self-Cleaning Litter Box does not use a motor or expensive parts, it can be an affordable solution for pet parents looking to simplify feline cleanup.
By making proper litter hygiene easier to achieve, these waste management products can also improve the relationship between felines and their owners. Retailers can emphasize this to pet parents looking for litter boxes and accessories.
“Cats are very clean animals with a sense of smell much greater than humans,” Astman explains. “A dirty litter box may lead to elimination problems—a major reason for cat/pet owner disenchantment.”
Shapes and Colors
In addition to incorporating self-cleaning features, manufacturers have also reimagined the litter box’s traditional design. Moderna, a Belgian company with a U.S. location in Gaffney, S.C., recently introduced the Top Cat—a litter box with high walls and a lid. The lid is sturdy enough for a cat to jump onto and includes an opening. The product’s setup allows for proper air circulation and keeps messes within the box.
Caroline Saelen, sales account manager for Moderna, explains that the Top Cat’s high walls and lid prevent other animals and children from getting into the litter. “It’s for dog and cat owners,” she says.
The Top Cat also has other features created for the convenience of pet owners. Moderna’s Scoopy accessory can easily be hooked on the interior side of the lid.
“We think that cat owners appreciate convenience when the scoop is integrated inside the cat toilet,” says Saelen.
Along with updating box shapes, Moderna also prides itself on offering items in a rainbow of colors. The family-owned company’s dedication to creating aesthetically pleasing and fashionable products can be traced back to its beginnings as a button factory.
“We change the colors every two to three years,” explains Saelen. “We look into trends. We go to fashion shows. We go to interior shows.”
The company sees regional patterns in color demand, with neutral colors like beige, brown, black and white being popular in Scandinavia and pink, green and yellow selling well in Mexico and Brazil. With such a wide array, Moderna offers litter boxes that can complement the color schemes in pet owners’ homes and be integrated into their décor.
Originally a producer of litter, Canada Litter has joined other manufacturers in expanding the litter box category. Headquartered in Quebec, Canada, the company now offers boxes and accessories in addition to its natural clay litters. Much of its new product portfolio focuses on fighting odor-causing bacteria.
“Our unique, patent-pending Cateco Odour-Proof litter box uses naturally occurring air circulation to safely and efficiently eliminate moisture in the litter box, which is what odor-causing bacteria feed on to proliferate in standard litter boxes,” says Jean Martin Verrault, marketing manager for Canada Litter.
Liquids that reach the base of the Cateco’s top section flow through mesh, preventing them from sticking to the plastic. The liquids are then absorbed in the box’s lower section, stopping them from generating odor. With these features, the Cateco reduces time cat owners spend on waste management.
Accompanying the Cateco is Canada Litter’s new Noba Litter Scoop. This triangular-shaped accessory uses an oversized scooping area and a sharp, multi-radius edge to make cleaning a litter box easier. Its wavy blades help sift through litter and catch smaller clumps that other scoops might miss.
Verrault explains that Canada Litter’s decision to offer products like the Noba Litter Scoop was strategic in nature. “Our venture into accessories started because we were interested in diversifying our offering and solidifying our brand with top-of-the-line accessories to go with top-of-the-line litter,” he says. “It made good business sense for a variety of reasons, and it has helped us develop new markets around the globe.”
Beyond the Box
Like Canada Litter, Messy Cats produces litter accessories that can accompany pans and boxes. The Toronto-based manufacturer offers the Litter Mat and the Litter Scooper.
“The silicone mat has graduating spikes that are super pliable, get into the nooks and have a natural attraction to litter that holds the mess in place,” explains Taylor Simms-Brown, the company’s vice president of sales. “The scoop is oversized with a long handle and the brush has a built-in scraper that easily takes a clump off the side or bottom of the box.”
OurPets also has accessory options that make cleaning the litter box easier for cat owners. The company’s product assortment includes a No Stick Litter Box Spray that reduces clump collection on the pan’s sides and bottom, Carbon Filters that utilizes zeolite to help with odor control and Waste Bags. OurPets’ Odor Control Litter Box Spray also eliminates smells and even uses a catnip scent to entice felines to use the box.
With all of these accessories on the market, pet retailers need to be aware of what’s out there in order to provide thorough recommendations to customers and suggest helpful add-on purchases.
“Retailers really need to do a good job educating consumers at the shelf with the different options available to them,” says Astman. “A new litter box buyer is generally unaware of the ‘little things’ or accessories that can make the litter box duties easier, reduce odors and keep the area clean.”
According to Verrault, retailers should also use the personal connections they share with customers to guide them in their purchase decisions.
“Retailers in this industry are also a passionate and hands-on bunch,” he says. “They’re usually multiple pet owners themselves, and like to be as well-informed as possible on the products they offer. We see that knowledge and devotion as incredibly valuable and leverageable. You just don’t get that from a big-box store.”
By recommending innovative and effective products, retailers can use the cat litter box/accessory category as an opportunity to make their customers’ lives easier, thus gaining their trust and loyalty. PB