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Cat Owners on Lookout for Healthy Treats

Cat owners use treats as a way to express affection for their pets, and, increasingly, they’re looking for tidbits with healthful ingredients.


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Treats can mean bonding time for cat and owner.

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For cat owners, giving treats is one of the many ways they show their pets how much they care about them.

It’s not surprising, then, that owners are shopping for treats that not only taste good, but also are healthful. Manufacturers of cat treats are heeding the call and offering treats with wholesome, nutritious ingredients.

Bette Schubert, co-founder and senior vice president of sales, new product development and education for Bravo Pet Foods in Manchester, Conn., is seeing more cat owners moving into this space for treats. 

“As has been the case for dog owners, cat parents are finding their feline friends are developing health issues,” Schubert said. “They are looking for foods and treats to help alleviate or not exacerbate those issues. As a result, there’s a strong customer need for species-specific treats pets will enjoy and that will also provide good nutrients. If we were to make the comparison to the human side, they’re looking for the feline treat version of fresh fruit and veggies as opposed to cakes and candy bars.”

Retailers also are seeing a strong interest in the healthful treat category.

“Organic and healthy has been a trend for a number of years, and that’s what we’re still seeing out there,” said Joanne Buchanan, manager of Teca Tu—A Paws-worthy Emporium & Deli in Santa Fe, N.M. “Our freeze-dried treat sales have been growing steadily. I can’t imagine there will be any decrease there.”

Successful Selling
Manufacturers have a variety of suggestions for displaying and marketing cat treats.

Bette Schubert, co-founder and senior vice president of sales, new product development and education for Bravo Pet Foods in Manchester, Conn., recommends merchandising all natural treats together.

“This invites customer questions and allows customers to compare across several brands,” she said. “Retailers have lots of merchandising options for treats, so if a retailer finds customers are looking for a certain type of treat or protein, the treats can be displayed prominently on an endcap or with a floor display to drive sales.” 

Schubert added that displays near the register also work because treats can be an impulse buy. 

Glenn A. Novotny, vice president of sales and marketing for Emerald Pet Products in Walnut Creek, Calif., said cat owners are starting to follow the same trends he’s been seeing in the dog category for years such as grain free, gluten free and soy free. 

“These same cat customers now pay attention to ingredient listings on the back of the bag, where traditionally they just purchased whatever had the lowest cost on the shelf regardless of what ingredients were being used or where it was produced,” he said. “There is plenty of opportunity to upsell cat owners at the time of the purchase to premium treats that are much more healthful for their pets.”

New to the Category
Cat treats formulated to help keep cats’ teeth clean and healthy are gaining consumer attention, and, as a result, manufacturers are broadening their efforts in this subcategory.

Greenies, a brand of Mars Petcare US, in Franklin, Tenn., now is offering larger product packaging created specifically for pet owners who frequently treat their cats, as well as for families and households with multiple cats.

“This past summer 2015, we began to offer a new package size of our popular Feline Greenies Dental Treats: the Jumbo Pack,” said Danika Roj-Wiedman, brand manager.  “The new Jumbo Pack is available in Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor and Tempting Tuna Flavor.”

Emerald Pet Products in Walnut Creek, Calif., recently introduced new packaging and flavors for its dental treat products.

“We have a large group of loyal customers that specifically requested for us to expand our cat dental line and add a couple more formulas for them to rotate through,” said Glenn A. Novotny, vice president of sales and marketing. “As more consumers pay attention to their cat’s oral health, we continue to experience increasing demand for additional healthful formulas.”


This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Pet Product News.

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