Pet owners seek out wet foods for their cats due to palatability,
added moisture and fewer fillers.
THIS ARTICLE IS BROUGHT
BY HILARY DANINHIRSCH
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Retailers and manufacturers are reporting a boost in sales in the wet cat food cat- egory, and many believe it is due to increased consumer education and owners’ desire to provide their pets with extra moisture.
“As consumers have become better edu-
cated in pet nutrition, we have observed an
increased interest in providing healthier meals
for felines,” said Erin Hoy, general manager
at Riverfront Pets in Wilmington, Del. “Wet
cat food provides the moisture that helps to
ensure adequate hydration, which cats may
not otherwise maintain.”
Christine McCoy, owner of The Natural
Pet Enrichment Center in North Royalton,
Ohio, said that in the past, it was more com-
mon for owners to give their cats dry kibble
and a bowl of water.
But, she said, after cats began developing diabetes and bladder issues, consumers
started relying on retailers and the internet to
get information about the benefits of feeding
wet food to their cats—and to male cats in
According to a recent survey of U.S. cat
owners conducted by Wakefield Research,
the vast majority (71 percent) of surveyed wet
food buyers purchase these foods because
their cats like the taste. More than a third (34
percent) prefer wet food because it helps keep
their cats hydrated, and nearly a quarter ( 24
percent) prefer it because it has less fillers than
Indeed, Heather Hickey, vice president of
sales for Ziwi USA in Overland Park, Kan.,
cited the fact that wet food provides more
meat and potentially fewer fillers and carbo-
hydrates than kibble as a reason the demand
for wet cat food is on the rise, in addition to
wet food offering increased moisture to cats.
Norm Shrout, co-owner of Long Leash
on Life in Albuquerque, N.M., said that consumer education on the part of conscientious
retailers is directly correlated with the rise in
demand for wet cat food.
“Cat parents seem to be clamoring for wet
food variety, especially now that they understand how much better it is for the cat,” he
said, adding that even cats seem to intuitively
know that moist-format foods help maintain
their proper hydration levels.
Shrout said that at his store, wet cat food
outsells dry food by far.
Cats are increasingly popular pets with
millennials and seniors making the move to
smaller living spaces, said Annabelle Immega, trade marketing manager for Petcurean
Pet Nutrition in Chilliwack, British Columbia,
“This, coupled with growing consumer
desire to feed their pets premium recipes that
mirror their own diets, have positively impacted category growth,” she said.
Immega added that consumers are interested in foods that are grain free and
non-GMO, have sustainable packaging
that reflects their desire for recyclable food
containers, and include innovative protein
sources made with fresh ingredients that
come in a variety of textures.
In an effort to satisfy their cats’ appetites,
owners do not hesitate to try out various textures of wet cat food, according to Wakefield
Research. In the past 12 months, nearly half ( 49
percent) of the surveyed cat owners who buy
wet cat food have purchased pâté, specialty
flavors ( 48 percent), chunky ( 46 percent), and
flaked or shredded ( 46 percent) cat food.
WHAT CAT OWNERS WANT
Pet owners are looking for a variety of
proteins beyond the old standbys of
chicken and fish, and many ingredient
trends are making the leap from the
human food market.
“Consumers are seeking out foods that
have high palatability, as well as specific
nutritional values such as glucosamine
and chondroitin, so ingredients like tripe
and green-lipped mussels are seeing
an increase in popularity,” said Heather
Hickey, vice president of sales for Ziwi USA
in Overland Park, Kan.
Exotic proteins are hitting both the
canine and feline markets; for cats, lamb
is popular in canned food, said Norm
Shrout, co-owner of Long Leash on Life in
Rabbit is another popular protein and
a good alternative to chicken and fish,
particularly for less-active house cats, said
Erin Hoy, general manager at Riverfront
Pets in Wilmington, Del.
Pet food trends continue to trail human
food trends, said Annabelle Immega, trade
marketing manager for Petcurean Pet
Nutrition in Chilliwack, British Columbia,
“So ingredients like paprika and
turmeric, which have been trending with
humans due to their anti-inflammatory and
other health benefits, are now finding their
way into pet food,” she said.
At The Natural Pet Enrichment Center
in North Royalton, Ohio, owner Christine
McCoy reported that she is seeing more
pumpkin, goat’s milk, coconut milk and
gravy being added to food.