Focus on Wellness
Retailers report that more cat owners are open
to the idea of giving their pets a health boost
BY KEITH LORIA
The cat supplements category has been growing in recent years as pet special- ty retailers cater to increasingly educated consumers who are focused on the health of their pets. For this reason, many in the industry see a growing opportunity for behavior-related and digestion-support supplements.
“Hip and joint is consistently the biggest part of the pet supplement category,
but more and more pet owners are looking for support for other health issues,” said
Derek J. Archambault, director of marketing in pet and retail for FoodScience Corp.
in Williston, Vt. “We are finding that many people are dealing with a variety of
anxiety-triggered behavior issues but are afraid to talk to their vet about them and
are looking for natural solutions.”
Sue Tasa, director of education for Pet Food Express, a chain of stores in Cali-
fornia, said many undesirable behaviors that cat owners commonly seek assistance
with are stress related, so she recommends calming aids.
“Diffusers are among the most popular forms of calming products that pet owners
report provide desired results,” she said. “Hairball prevention/treatment products also
continue to be in demand, which provides us an opportunity to discuss both grooming
and possible diet improvements as well as additional supplements such as cold water
fish oils, when appropriate.”
More people are looking at alternatives to modern medicine these days, and many
are turning to natural and herbal supplements for their pets’ daily health needs, said
Amanda Zumwalt, brand manager for Nutri-Vet Wellness, a division of Boise, Ida-
ho-based Manna Pro Products. While the highest sales seem to come from hairball sup-
plements, there is a current trend for palatable, soft chews, she said.
“This shift has come as the list of side effects for numerous medications continues
to grow, while more and more reports indicate that the medications themselves are
not working as promised or are not powerful enough to warrant the side-effect risks,”
Zumwalt said. “Herbs are a much better choice because they’re easier to obtain, cause
fewer side effects, have no addiction risk and can be moderated as you need them.”
Jaime Rowe, president of Ello Pet Supply, a Wheat Ridge, Colo.-based distributor
of USA-made pet products, has received a lot of requests for cat joint supplements this
year, including an increase in demand for powder instead of capsules.
“We have heard a lot of discussion about feline obesity issues,” she said. “We would
like to see more products available that address this issue that are straightforward about
their benefits and how they work.”
Angel Stanley, owner of Paws on the Mountain in Cashiers, N.C., said the trends
at the store tend to mimic human trends including overall multivitamins, joint health,
urinary tract and immune system-boosting supplements.
“We prefer to lead our customers to whole-food supplementation, but cats are notoriously finicky, so that can make it difficult,” Stanley said. “At the moment, Flora4
made by Carna4 is popular for both cats and dogs. Another product we always suggest
is Answers raw fermented goat’s milk along with their kefir and fish stock.”
Some owners see supplements as a
way to maintain their cats’ health so
they don’t run into problems at the
veterinarian office—and big bills.