When it comes to specialty and functional foods for cats, nothing is more important than
education. It can be a confusing category for consumers, and they are often flooded with a lot of
“Consumers are bombarded with claims from all pet food manufacturers that their products
are superior, meatier, safer, more natural, more nutritious and so on,” said Karen Neola, founder
of My Perfect Pet in Poway, Calif. “Retailers who invest in educating their staff and helping pet
parents understand how to interpret product labels, select more species-appropriate diets and
make healthier choices for their pets become more than just a vendor to their customers. They
form a relationship built on a foundation of supporting overall pet health.”
Curt Jacques, owner of West Lebanon Feed & Supply in West Lebanon, N.H., pointed out that
the end goal of consumer education starts with employee training.
“The foundation of consumer education is making sure you are holding regular training
sessions with your employees,” Jacques said. “We do one every week, educating our staff on
anything that is new since our last meeting—maybe a new product line or even a line that’s
In fact, Jacques said that because cat owners are typically only in to see the veterinarian
once or twice a year—and might be in the store as often as every three weeks—the
responsibility of nutrition education is undoubtedly on the retailer.
Ann Hudson, vice president of marketing for St. Louis-based Whitebridge Pet Brands, maker
of Tiki Pets, agreed. Generally speaking, cat owners tend to visit the veterinarian even less than
dog owners do, she said.
“Because cats are more independent, they are also less likely to be handled or watched as
closely as dogs,” Hudson added. “When a dog food isn’t working, it is quickly apparent to the
owner—but not so much for cats. I think retailers need to be prepared to discuss nutrition with
cat owners and help them pick the right food for their cats.”
Annabelle Immega, trade marketing manager for Petcurean Pet Nutrition in Chilliwack, British
Columbia, Canada, said that the key to determining the right recipe for a cat is to ask questions.
“Once a retailer understands the nutritional requirements of the pet by discovering details,
such as age, breed, medical history and activity level, they can then match the cat with the food
that will best suit their needs,” Immega said.
Neola said that certain breeds are more prone to health issues that could be prevented or at
least moderated with more functional dietary choices.
“As pets age, their systems become less efficient at processing foods, and they need fewer
calories to maintain proper weight,” she said. “Pet food companies are capitalizing on this by
offering a variety of diets for just about every breed and age, and consumers are increasingly
challenged to sift through often exaggerated marketing claims to determine which is truly the
best diet for their pet.”
In the end, education might be the difference between whether a pet owner chooses a
conventional food or a specialty food for their pet, said Chanda Leary-Coutu, director of consumer
experience for WellPet in Tewksbury, Mass.
“We, as pet parents, all share the same desire of wanting to do the best we can for our pets,
so understanding the significant benefits of functional or age- and breed-specific foods is a
major driving factor in making the switch,” she added. “Most frequently, it happens when pet
parents notice a change in their cat’s health or behavior, which causes them to do their own
research or ask their veterinarian for potential solutions. Oftentimes, functional diets can help.”
SAUDER WOODWORKING CO. presents the
Pyramid Cat Nester, part of the Sauder Pet Home
Collection. A 2-in. cushion with a removable cover
is nestled in a pyramid made with hand-woven
hyacinth. The nester features a toy suspended from
the top that pet owners can easily activate via pull-tab for interactive playtime. sauder.com
WELLPET offers Well-
ness Core Indoor Ocean.
The Salmon & Herring
Meal Recipe for cats supports lean muscle mass
with a protein-rich and
poultry-free dry food. It
contains no meat byproducts, fillers, or artificial
preservatives or flavors.
It provides joint support.
Shield was invented to
let cats scratch while
keeping furniture protected. It can be easily affixed
to any piece of furniture
to protect it from cat
claws. The shield is made
of durable Marine-grade
vinyl and is perfect for sofas, armchairs, couches,
loveseats, ottomans, baskets and more. It is easy
to install, reposition and
remove as needed. Clear-head nickel-plated steel
upholstery twist pins are
included for ease of use.
Two shields come in each
pack with a choice of four
sizes: small, medium,
large and extra-large.
cat litterbox odor
consists of an
with a multilayered carbon odor-control filter that
easily attaches to the top of an enclosed litterbox
without tools. The patent-pending system draws
air through the litterbox and up through the carbon
filter, virtually eliminating cat litter odor quickly.
The product has been lab tested and is proven to
eliminate the smell of ammonia in approximately
30 minutes. The filter’s outer layer is a polyester
media with activated carbon. The inner layer is a
proprietary Flocked Honeycomb Carbon Matrix,
which includes a combination of virgin coconut
shell with activated carbon. When the layers are
combined, these materials not only offer odor
absorption—they actually change the molecular
structure of odors and neutralize them.
The Original Solution:
Veterinarian-Formulated CAT ATTRACTTM
Clinically Tested • Formulated with a Natural Herbal Attractant Proven to
Drive Litterbox Use
• Perfect Texture on Paws
• Trusted by Clinics and Cat Owners
• All Natural
• 99% Dust Free
• Hard Clumping