The Full Spectrum
Manufacturers offer a variety of textures, consistencies, flavors and proteins to please the palates—and meet the nutritional requirements—of even the pickiest cats.
When it comes to selling cat food, David Bovard has a not-so-secret weapon: shop cats Ivar and Vito.
“People tend to take their recommendations pretty seriously,” said Bovard, owner of Pioneer Pet Feed & Supply in Seattle.
Ivar and Vito, as well as Pioneer Pet’s customers, have quite a selection of cat food to choose from. Bovard stocks what he calls a full spectrum of cat food, offering dry kibble, canned diets, frozen raw foods, freeze-dried raw foods and air-dried foods.
Why such a large selection?
“I’ve had cats and worked with cats long enough to acknowledge that variety is key when it comes to keeping their interest in foods,” he said. “With that in mind, I carry a variety of textures, consistencies and protein sources.”
Manufacturers, too, recognize the often-finicky nature of cats. Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co. in Markham, Ill., offers options to help cat owners find a texture or consistency that will appeal to their pet.
“We run the gamut on styles of food from loaf/pâté to hand-packed, hand-shredded and chunked foods,” said Holly Sher, president. “We accommodate every type of consumer, from the budget-conscious to the most difficult to please.”
Evanger’s, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary, has expanded its line of Super Premium Dinners for Cats with new, exotic formulas. The new recipes, Rabbit & Quail and Duck, are made in the U.S. with all U.S.-sourced ingredients, according to the company.
Nature’s Logic in Lincoln, Neb., also uses a range of protein sources for its dry, canned and raw frozen formulas: chicken, turkey, rabbit, beef, duck, salmon, venison and sardine. The foods are made entirely from all-natural ingredients, said Scott Freeman, owner.
“The most unique feature is that all essential nutrients come from food only, without the use of any added synthetic vitamins, synthetic minerals or synthetic amino acids,” he said.
Cat owners now are more mindful of their pets’ nutritional needs, and this attentiveness drives the decisions they make in stores’ cat food aisles, Freeman said.
“Cat owners [are] learning that cats need carnivore-appropriate diets and more moisture in their diets,” he said. “This means diets with more animal protein and more moisture, which means the cat food category is moving to more canned and raw foods.”
At The Pet Corner in Honolulu, cat-owning customers gravitate to canned foods from Natural Balance Pet Foods and WellPet’s Wellness brand, said sales associate Jaymi Judd.
“Customers say their cats like the taste, and they are high-quality foods,” she said. “Customers seem to prefer higher-quality foods for their cats.”
The Pet Corner stocks dry kibble and raw freeze-dried cat foods, too.
“We also occasionally stock raw food for cats, but it hasn’t caught on like raw food for dogs has,” Judd said.
Raw frozen cat food sells quite well at Natural Pet Food & Supplies in Temecula, Calif. Freezer cases line the back wall of the store, containing formulas for cats and dogs, said Annette Merrifield, assistant manager.
“Raw foods are becoming more popular with our customers,” Merrifield said. “We’ve had to add more freezers to keep up with the demand.”
The store also offers a range of kibble, canned and raw freeze-dried foods.
“Freeze-dried is good for people who are still a little squeamish or hesitant about raw food,” Merrifield said. “Some people crumble it up and sprinkle it on wet food, and others just add water.”
Freeze-dried foods sell well at Pioneer Pet Feed & Supply. Bovard noted that freeze-dried formulas often help customers make the switch to raw diets.
“Raw made convenient and easy is awesome,” he said. “I love the convenience of freeze-dried, shelf-stable raw cat food.”
Starch Is the New Grain
For cat owners seeking a quick, easy way to feed their cats, Waggers in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, offers another mealtime solution.
“Waggers TenderMoist cat food is the first starch-free, high-meat, low-carb, semimoist cat food,” said Jason Bailey, president and CEO. “Picky cats find the food highly palatable, and their owners appreciate the convenience of a kibble with the health benefits and moisture content closer to wet and raw diets.”
Launched in fall 2014, TenderMoist cat food comes in three recipes: Chicken, Chicken & Tuna and Chicken & Salmon.
“Free of both starches and grain, this all-natural, premium cat food contains over 90 percent animal protein ingredients, less than 10 percent carbohydrates and up to 30 percent moisture (three times that of dry kibble),” Bailey said.
Bailey said he expects the current trend toward grain-free cat foods to soon include starch-free foods.
“Starch free is grain free … and beyond,” he said. “[TenderMoist] includes no starchy ingredients that are difficult for carnivores like cats to digest.”
Nootie also avoids starchy ingredients in its Mauri line of canned cat food.
“Our cat formulas are free of grains, gluten, potato and peas,” said Lonnie Schwimmer, president of the Delray Beach, Fla., company. “Our cat line offers four proteins: venison, hoki (New Zealand ocean whitefish), kangaroo and brushtail. We are working on adding four more proteins in the near future, which will be eel, goat, duck and frost fish.”
The novel proteins in the Mauri line can help cats that are experiencing allergy symptoms, Schwimmer said.
“The Mauri line is a great choice for all cats, but an even better choice for cats needing a solution for their allergies, urinary issues, irritable bowel disease or sensitive stomach/skin,” he said. “Every ingredient in our Mauri formulas serves a purpose.”
No matter which type of protein it contains, Bovard appreciates cat food made with high-quality ingredients and said that his customers do, too.
“People are moving away from the foods that are heavily processed using low-quality corn, wheat and soy, and animal byproducts,” he said.
“When [owners] make the discovery of the benefits of feeding healthful, sensible foods from reputable companies, that is always a wonderful thing,” he added.
|Engaging Customers Via Social Media|
Consider uploading photos of your latest cat food to your store’s Instagram account. David Bovard, owner of Pioneer Pet Feed & Supply in Seattle, encourages his customers to follow him on social media, particularly on Instagram and Facebook.
“I am a big fan of engaging my customers via social media,” he said. “Mediums like that give me the opportunity to show people what the products look like or to start a discussion on the benefits of the food.”
Bovard tags the companies that manufacture the products he highlights.
“That way customers can refer to these businesses … and get a feeling for how they represent themselves online,” he said.—SNH
This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Pet Product News.