In the not-so-distant past, chilly winter months giving way to hot summers was the signal to pet parents to start reaching for flea and tick formulas to keep their cats safe. But, as winters have grown milder, the increase in warmer weather has created conditions that allow these pests to thrive for longer periods of time throughout the year.
As consumers continue to be become more discerning in their pet product choices, they’re seeking out solutions that can become a trusted component of a long-term regimen—one that priotizes getting ahead of flea and tick infestations before they’re an issue.
"As a veterinarian, I am in a position of treating tick-borne diseases and all the side effects of fleas and ticks," says Dr. Bob Goldstein, co-founder of Earth Animal with his wife, Susan. "Don’t wait for an infestation. Start early in the season, if you live in a place where there is a season—most of the places right now there are no seasons. Be as diligent as possible."
Make no mistake: that diligence can’t stop at just protecting outdoor cats. Cats that dwell in ALL places, even inside, need the same amount of attention when it comes combating and preventing parasites.
"One common misconception suggests cats that stay indoors aren’t at risk of contracting fleas and ticks," explains James Brandly, associate trade marketing manager of TropiClean. "But we know fleas and ticks are pesky and other pets or people can bring them into the house."
Combing Through Claims
The challenge that remains for cat owners is vetting products and sifting through multiple claims and vetting them to ensure the information is accurate and 100 percent safe to use on their cat’s fur. This, in turn, has led to an increase in demand for natural solutions.
"The American Pet Products Association has reported depressed use of some types of flea and tick products, which may be the result of more pet parents purchasing natural, chemical-free flea and tick products," reveals Brandly. "The category has tremendous growth opportunity and continues to offer numerous solutions."
Manufacturers have invested in exploring ingredients such as silica-based topical solutions that cut through parasites, while others have opted to include supplements that feature a brewer’s yeast foundation that can be blended with food. Other non-traditional ingredients include cottonwood oil, peppermint oil and almond oil.
While trending formulas in flea and tick preventative products sometimes include ingredients that shouldn’t be used in large doses, the consensus from brands is that they protect animals without potential hazards associated with traditional materials. According to Susan Goldstein, the sensitivity of cat bodies makes formulas based on simple ingredients an effective parasite deterrent that will allow animals to maintain their overall health.
"The whole immune system has challenges, but particularly in cats, kidney disease is No. 1, and the kidney is the detox organ in the body that has to dump out poison," she explains. "If we are putting an insecticide or pesticide on the kitty, the kidney has to overwork and dump it out on the daily basis. We believe that could be one of the triggers."
As consumers look to retailers for additional information about products and uses, retailers turn to their trusted manufacturer partners for information. As most companies are invested in overall safety and not just selling products, manufacturers are more than willing to provide useful advice to help cultivate a customer base.
"Pet parents today appreciate education," says Susan Goldstein. "Empower them with the education and hand them over the alternative for a natural approach."
Retailers and their associates on the floor have to serve as educated representatives so they can help informed consumers for the appropriate options for their cats.
Certain brands are relying on their partners from the retail front to serve as an educated representative that can help informed consumers find the appropriate options for their cats.
"Finding the right product can be overwhelming; therefore, it is essential to educate the pet parent and provide them the opportunity to compare and contrast different products, ensuring they pick the best solution to fit their lifestyle," explains Brandly. PB