CAT TREAT LAUNCHES
This past October, St. Louis-based Whitebridge Pet Brands debuted two cat treats: Tiki
Cat Dash and Tiki Cat Stix. Tiki Cat Dash is 100 percent bonito tuna or mackerel that is
fresh-caught, flaked by hand and naturally smoked for a boost of flavor. Pet owners can
sprinkle it on top of wet or dry food as a special treat for finicky cats. Tiki Cat Stix is a
creamy-textured mousse available in chicken or tuna. The treats come in single-serve,
easy-open pouches. Owners can let cats lick these protein-rich, pureed treats straight
from the tube or pour them on top of dry food for a boost of flavor and moisture.
Also in October, San Diego-based The Honest Kitchen launched a line of instant
dehydrated bone broths, suitable for cats and inspired by Ayurvedic health principles.
These include Chicken and Cardamom Spice, made with chicken, sweet potato, cardamom and cinnamon, as well as Turkey and Ginger Spice, containing only turkey, lentils,
kale and ginger.
In early 2018, cat owners can look forward to two new treats from Redmond, Wash.-based Cat-Man-Doo: a freeze-dried sirloin and a freeze-dried sirloin with cheese.
Because of her success with Fruitables treats for dogs, Toni Shelaske, owner of
Healthy Pet Products, which has two stores in the Pittsburgh area, has started stocking
Fruitables Wildly Natural cat treats.
Inaba cat treats are new on the shelves at Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash., due
to their unique flavors and texture, said store manager Starla Carter.
NEW FORMATS RULE
From freeze-dried options to purees, cat treats are now available
in a variety of forms.
Freeze-dried treats are increasing in popularity, said Larissa
Hunter, sales associate at Pets Naturally in Traverse City, Mich.
“[They are] usually 100 percent animal protein, and cats, be-
ing carnivores, tend to love them,” Hunter said. “Also, when a pet
has an allergy, it’s easier to find freeze-dried snacks that correlate
with the diet restrictions.”
Whether freeze dried or not, another cat treat trend of interest
is the expansion of treats containing beef, pork or novel proteins,
rather than just the traditional fish and poultry flavors, said Starla
Carter, store manager at Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash.
Yet, fish and chicken are still the most common cat treat
flavors, said Ann Hudson, vice president of marketing for Whitebridge Pet Brands in St. Louis.
“A protein-based treat is a must,” she said. “The most popular
trends today include new formats—something different than the
typical crunchy and soft and chewy options.”
Palatability is important, too. It centers on aroma, texture and
mouth-feel, Hudson said, “so in addition to protein source, we are
looking at new forms like flakes and purees.”
Often, manufacturers are inspired to create pet products that
are in sync with human food trends, such as The Honest Kitchen’s
incorporation of goat’s milk, bone broth and turmeric in some of
its cat products.
Hunter said that a growing number of pet owners perceive their
cats as having allergies. As a result, they are seeking limited-ingredient, single-protein diets, and that extends to their choice in treats.
Regardless, Hunter said, sales in cat treats have stayed the same.
Like Shelaske, though, others reported that cat treat sales have
climbed, and for a variety of reasons.
“Cat treat sales are picking up due to many companies realizing
that cat owners really want to go the extra mile to make their cat feel
loved but don’t want to sacrifice quality,” said Starla Carter, store
manager of Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash.
Sandra Dahlquist-Stake, owner and vice president of Cat-Man-Doo in Redmond, Wash., agreed that cat treat sales are increasing,
and attributed this growth in part to the rise in pet ownership overall,
particularly among retiring baby boomers.
But Ron Franklin, director of international sales and e-commerce
with Green Bay, Wis.-based Vital Essentials, linked the steady increase
in sales to younger consumers.
“Gen Y and gen X cat owners have a higher level of treat purchases
compared to older generations, which has driven much of the increase
in sales activity in recent years,” he said.
Also contributing to the increased demand, Franklin said, is the
integration of pets as family members, which correlates with consumers’ desire to feed their pets more natural and healthful foods.
“Samples are often necessary to drive sales because
many cats are very particular
in their tastes. It really helps
if cat owners can offer a
sample to their pet before
they purchase a full size. It
also encourages customers
to try different flavors or
store manager of Denny’s
Pet World in Kirkland, Wash.
“Treat samples are definitely helpful in
boosting sales. When customers have
the opportunity to test out a treat with
their pet before spending money and
committing to a whole bag, it allows the
product to speak for itself. However, treat
samples aren’t as commonly offered as
food samples. At Pets Naturally, we will
pick out a few bags of treats that we
keep up at the front checkout counter to
open and offer to our customers. We’ve
found that it ends up being worth taking
the loss of a few bags to use as samples.”
—LARISSA HUNTER, sales associate at
Pets Naturally in Traverse City, Mich.
“Sampling is the most
successful way to get the
word out about cat treats. If
you don’t, the customer will
want to return an opened
product that their cat didn’t
owner of Healthy Pet Products,
which has two stores in the
“In the early years, when our sales were
direct to retailers, we always shipped
samples with each order. Currently, we do
provide customer samples to any distrib-
utors wishing to distribute them to stores.
Occasionally, I will receive direct requests
from consumers for samples and always
provide them. I do believe that samples
boost sales.”—SANDRA DAHLQUIST-STAKE, owner and vice president of
Cat-Man-Doo in Redmond, Wash.
Are samples necessary to boost
cat treat sales?
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