WHAT’S NEW IN
SPECIALTY CAT FOOD
Feline Caviar in Norco, Calif., has launched Open Range Grain Free Entrée for Cats and
Kittens. The buffalo formula is a limited-ingredient diet intended for short- and long-haired cats and hairball control, said owner Jeff Baker. It is the perfect addition to the
company’s current product line, as it is consistent with Feline Caviar’s belief in protein
rotation, which gives cats or kittens a different amino acid profile and maintains an
overall healthy immune system, Baker said.
Solid Gold Pet of Greenville, S.C. recently launched High Protein recipes for cats.
The foods focus on higher meat composition to support the active lifestyle cats, with
healthful fats to supply essential energy, clean proteins for healthy muscles and a core
combination of superfoods such as pumpkin, blueberries and spearmint for overall
health, according to the company. The two grain- and gluten-free kibble recipes are
High Protein With Chicken and High Protein With Cold Water Salmon.
“A key differentiator for Solid Gold is that all of our dry kibble across our core line
features 20 nutrient-rich superfoods,” said Geoff Stella, vice president of marketing for
Solid Gold Pet in Greenville, S.C. “These superfoods, along with high-quality proteins,
are curated to deliver transformative nutrition for the overall health of pets.”
When introducing a new food at the retail level, strong product knowledge is the
key to successful sales, Stella said.
“It is critical that store associates can speak with ease to product benefits and
differentiating features,” Stella said.
Katie Pottenger, owner of Parker’s, A Natural Dog & Cat Market in Chicago, agreed.
“I always set up a training with the manufacturer to go over the benefits of a new
product,” she said. “If we don’t know about the food, we can’t properly sell it.”
“Keeping up with information about all of the different products is always a chal-
lenge,” said Schwartz of All Pets Considered. “That’s where my short list of our go-to
recommendations comes into play, along with staff training. The most common health
problems we see in cats tend to be thyroid and urinary tract concerns, so it’s important
that we’re keeping up with the latest dietary information for those needs.”
The power of a well-informed store partner is complemented with clear messag-
ing through in-store signage at and around the shelf, Stella said.
“Combined with the efforts of educated staff, signage is helpful to relay the benefits of
the new product and bring that food to the attention of customers,” Pottenger noted.
Glenda Bone, owner of Gallery of Pets in Austin, Texas, said specialty foods are
displayed in the very front of all the cat food. She noted that some cat owners are
reluctant to try something new and said those who own many cats might feel like they
already “know it all.” But by placing the food in the front, it at least catches the consumer’s eye and might prompt them to consider it, she said.
BREED-SPECIFIC CAT FOODS
While their canine housemates appear in an array of proportions, the scope of size for
feline family members does not present a huge variance. However, some manufacturers
are noting a consumer call for foods based not on size but rather the unique needs of a
Royal Canin’s cat breed-specific dry formulations are available for ragdolls, Persian
cats, Persian kittens, Maine coons and Siamese cats. The company recently launched
a wet option for Maine coon cats, which features thin slices in a gravy texture. It is
formulated to help maintain healthy bones and joints, with nutrients for high energy,
and helps support skin and coat health, according to the company.
“The Maine coon is one of the largest pedigreed cats, weighing up to 20 pounds
as an adult,” said Laura Pletz, DVM, technical services manager for the St. Charles, Mo.,
company. “Due to [its] large stature and medium-length hair, it is important to provide
support for bone and joint, skin and coat, and cardiac health.”
The nutritional needs of the active, muscular, short-haired Siamese or the
long-haired, flat-faced Persian can be met by a food developed specifically for these
characteristics, Dr. Pletz added.
The key benefit of a breed-specific formulation is the customized nutrition offered
by addressing the individual needs of a purebred cat and dog, providing a solution for
pet owners wishing to proactively support unique health requirements, Pletz added.
“From the shape of the kibble to the nutrient profile, breed-specific formulas are
designed to support particular needs, such as weight management, hairball support,
sensitive stomach or a picky eater,” she said.
These days, cat own- ers are nearly as picky as their pets,
and they’re seeking out
a variety of specialty and
functional foods to address or prevent a range
of health issues—such
as hairball control, urinary tract health, weight
control formulas and
more—as well as breed-and age-specific diets.
Tom Rogers, owner
of Panhandle Pet Supply
in Tallahassee, Fla., said
he’s seeing a surge of interest in nonprescription
cat specialty foods at his store.
Consumers, he said, are looking
for specifics when it comes to
the food’s purpose.
“When I started out in this
industry, we had feline, feline
light and kitten [foods],” Rogers
said. “Now we see everything,
and there’s no question the consumer demand is there for it.
It’s not enough to just have the
ingredients that manage a prob-
lem—they want it spelled out on
the bag. And ‘hairball manage-
ment’ isn’t enough. They want
‘indoor hairball and weight
management.’ It’s gotten very
Alison Schwartz, manager of
All Pets Considered in Greens-
boro, N.C., said she’s seeing the
same demand for specificity—
and for details to be clear-
ly written on the bag.
“We had a formu-
la that had more fiber
and was well suited
for hairball control, but
that wasn’t enough,”
Schwartz said. “Con-
sumers want to see it say
‘hairball control’ on the
package. Besides hair-
ball, foods formulated
for urinary tract health
are also big sellers.”
Bryan Nieman, brand
director of Fromm Family
Foods in Mequon, Wis.,
said he’s seeing more de-
mand for variety, even within
Among age-specific offer-
ings, kitten foods are popular.
“Those foods have the right
amount of protein and fat that
a kitten would need during
their first year,” said Chelsea
Cassidy, assistant manager at
Anaheim Feed & Pet Supply in
Breed- and age-specific foods, as well as formulas addressing specific health
concerns, often are just what cat owners are looking for, but retailers need
to invest the time to educate consumers and promote these specialty diets.
Foods with customized nutrition are available for some of the
most popular cat breeds.
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