BRING OUT THEIR INNER HUNTER
More than ever, pet owners are realizing the essential role of play in
the lives of their pets. Fueling cats’ natural instinct to play, hunt and
stay active is key to keeping them healthy, said Nancy Waters, business
development manager for R2P Pet in Pleasanton, Calif.
Manufacturers are paying heed.
With A Purpose Products recently released the Kung Fu Kitty Catnip
Kick and Catnip Kick replacement end, which attaches to all Kung Fu
Kitty wands and features a faux-fur toy with a woven seagrass tail and a
pocket stuffed with organically grown catnip.
“We had success with our line of USA-made cat teasers and began
receiving suggestions for a catnip-filled product,” said Chris Gardner,
owner of With A Purpose Products in Los Angeles. “We saw very few
cat teasers using catnip, and our replacement-end capability makes our
catnip teaser all that more unique to the market.”
The recently introduced Cat Dancer Deluxe toy from Cat Dancer
Products is an update to the very popular but now discontinued Cat
Dancer Complete, said Jim Boelke, president of the Neenah, Wis.-based
“Nothing is more frustrating than bringing home a toy the cat
ignores,” Boelke said. “These are simple toys that cats find continuously
The interactive toy can also be mounted on the wall via a “paw” with
adhesive strips, allowing the cat to play by itself while the owner is away.
“The new Deluxe toy offers a much more wall-friendly Command Strip
as an adhesive,” Boelke said. “Cats can play without damage to the wall
where their toys are adhered.”
The Cat House in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, recently debuted a line
of hookless cat fishing lures resembling birds, mice and fish. Cat House
Fly Fishing Toys are created to stimulate and satisfy the natural hunting
instincts of cats, said president Joanne Wegiel.
“When testing these replaceable tips, we witnessed an unprecedented
intensity of play hunting,” she said. “Most cats fiercely claimed the toy and
were reluctant to give it up, even growling to keep other cats away from
The toys can be attached to an extendable rod that is flexible and
durable, Wegiel added.
CAT TOY R&D
When it comes to creating toys that will engage the feline set,
manufacturers often look to retailers, family members, employees and
friends for guidance.
“We are fortunate to have a large number of cat-loving friends and
family, so our market research is in creating a quantity of prototypes,
which are distributed for feedback,” said Jim Boelke, president of Cat
Dancer Products in Neenah, Wis. “This system works well.”
The key factor in determining the popularity of a toy is whether
cats actually like it, said Joanne Wegiel, president of The Cat House in
Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.
“I have four cats of my own, have lived with cats my entire life and
take great pleasure in providing fun experiences for cats,” Wegiel said.
“I also volunteer one day a week at a local shelter with cats who are
happy to try new toys.”
After a toy receives cat approval, the real test is how the public
receives it, said Allie Hackett, cat product development manager for
R2P Pet in Pleasanton, Calif.
“In the end, the market is the real test, and once our toys are sold,
we carefully track how successful different items are, and that tells us
which direction to move in the future,” Hackett said.
“We study sales trends and listen to our retailers,” said Chris
Gardner, owner of Los Angeles-based With A Purpose Products, maker
of the Kung Fu Kitty brand.
This regular contact provides the opportunity for immensely helpful
feedback, putting sales trends into context, Gardner added.
Tracking trends is key for R2P Pet, too.
“Trend research is very important in determining what toys we
develop and the direction taken when expanding current lines,” Hackett
said. “Our design team is always on the lookout for new trends across
the industry, as well as other industries that we think could cross over
Cats benefit greatly from toys that stimulate
their instincts, such as the Catit Spinning Bee
from The Hagen Group.
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