Cat Grooming Products are a Growing Category
Building interest in the cat grooming products category might just be a matter of education.
A lot of cat owners admit that they’ve never considered grooming their companion. Yet some retailers reported that cat grooming is a product category that is growing as more owners become educated. Keeping a well-rounded selection of grooming products on hand will help stores become a go-to resource for cat grooming products customers, both old and new.
Manufacturers and cat owners alike are beginning to recognize the importance of grooming, said Rikki Mor, founder and owner of Groom Genie in Denver.
“Many people are under the mistaken impression that because they are such meticulous self-groomers, cats don’t need to be groomed,” Mor said. “But grooming a cat is beneficial for the cat in so many ways—removing excess hair, distributing oils, stimulating the skin and more. Enrichment is another big trend, and grooming can provide great bonding time between owner and cat.”
A lot of cat owners still prefer to leave grooming in the hands of professionals, but that doesn’t mean they should be entirely counted out for grooming product purchases.
“A lot of people don’t want to deal with their cat freaking out, so they wouldn’t even consider grooming at home,” said Janet Carhuayano, store manager at The Salty Paw in New York. “We definitely have quite a big cat grooming clientele base. While we don’t carry a ton of cat grooming products, it’s important to have some in line with what our groomers are using. Customers do end up buying some of the products used by their professional groomer.”
Products already being used by the groomer are an easier sell, Carhuayano added.
“There’s no explanation needed as to why it’s better,” Carhuayano said. “We simply say, ‘It’s what your groomer uses,’ and no more questions are asked.”
Carhuayano said that hands down, slicker brushes are the leading seller among The Salty Paw’s cat grooming products.
Darrell Perkins, co-owner of Fin & Feather Pet Center in Richmond, Va., agreed.
“Slicker brushes are our biggest seller in cat grooming products,” he said. “Cats can be funny about being groomed, but most of them do like—or at least need—a good brushing at home.”
Groom Genie recently released its product of the same name, a handle-less detangling brush that users have reported works well on cats that are finicky about being groomed, Mor said.
“We launched Groom Genie because we learned many people were using our human detangling brush, the Knot Genie, on their pets,” Mor said. “They would tell us that it worked great to remove tangles and keep fur soft and silky, and that their pets loved the feel of the bristles. After conducting our own research, we discovered a need in the market for an effective grooming brush that pets enjoyed.”
A Natural Preference
Howard Bearz, owner of The Cheshire Cat and Dog, Too! in Cheshire, Conn., said that his customers who do groom their cats specifically ask for natural products.
“Most cat owners never think about grooming their feline friends, but the ones who do always go natural,” Bearz said.
Kelly Parsons, manager of Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash., agreed, and said she puts up signs to point customers toward natural products, because Denny’s Pet World is a big store. However, the challenge is often whether the products work well.
“There’s no doubt customers ask for ‘natural,’ but it also has to work,” Parsons said.
Cat grooming customers often look for problem-solving products that also are “natural with quality ingredients,” said Bobbi Panter, founder of Bobbi Panter Pet Products in Chicago. If a product can meet both of these qualities, it’s a winner.
“I think the recent interest in natural cat grooming is driven by educated consumers who know the benefit of using natural products,” said Katie Rogers, marketing manager for PL360, a manufacturer of plant-based products in Westbury, N.Y. “They want a product that is safe and appropriate for use on their cat—but is also going to work. In the natural market, especially, efficacy is key.”
Some people feel that as self-groomers, cats do not need help from their owners, yet brushing can remove excess hair, distribute oils and stimulate the skin.
For owners who don’t want to struggle with the hassle they associate with bathing cats at home, wipes might provide a solution.
“Grooming supplies that sell the best for cats are grooming wipes,” Bearz said. “Customers would rather wipe their cats down instead of bathing them.”
PL360 recently introduced PL360 Grooming Wipes.
“Unlike many other wipes on the market, PL360 Grooming Wipes contain a natural, cold-pressed seed oil blend to help nourish the skin and coat after dander messes have been wiped away,” Rogers said. “They are quick, convenient and safe for daily use on all areas of your cat. Our grooming wipes are ideal for cats who hate bath time and for owners looking for an easier alternative.”
Though bathing a cat might not be at the top of an owner’s to-do list, there are some owners who are giving it a shot. Panter said that more cat owners are learning it’s important to wash their cats—and that, contrary to popular belief, cats can love it.
“Cat owners are realizing it is an old wives’ tale that cats do not love water,” Panter said. “The trend is that cat owners are pampering their cats as much as dog owners are. People want products that will make their cat’s bath experience and the bather’s experience easier and enjoyable for both of them.”
Bobbi Panter Pet Products recently introduced new packaging and labels for all of its cat shampoos. The updated bottles and labels now call out product benefits such as “salt free” and “tear free,” making them an easier sell, Panter said.
The smell of a shampoo also is important. In fact, Parsons of Denny’s Pet World said she needs to let customers experience it themselves if she wants to make a sale.
“People want it to smell good, but they won’t just trust it does just by looking at the bottle,” she said. “I almost never sell a bottle of shampoo without first opening it for them to smell it themselves.”
A Regular Routine
Whether it’s as simple as using a wipe or brush, or a more complex effort such as an entire bath, keeping up with grooming can provide many benefits, and it can become part of a regular routine.
“If the cat likes the feeling of the grooming session, and actually looks forward to it, then it’s easy to make a habit of it,” Groom Genie’s Mor said. “Grooming sessions are a great opportunity for bonding between an owner and his or her cat.”
“There are so many products out there that it can be hard to explain why one is better than another. We make a point to carry products that our professional groomers use and trust. It’s always easy to say ‘This is what our groomers use’ and make the sale with that simple fact as opposed to giving a whole bunch of reasons why it’s better.”—Janet Carhuayano, store manager at The Salty Paw in New York
“With cat products, we’ve found that cat owners rarely try something new. Cats are finicky creatures that don’t like change, and cat owners know that. We don’t try to push new products on them but keep what does sell well stocked up. One exception to that rule is when they hear about it from a friend. If a friend raves about a new product, they might be more willing to give it a try.”—Darrell Perkins, co-owner of Fin & Feather Pet Center in Richmond, Va.
“If the product doesn’t say ‘cat’ on it, they don’t want it. You can tell them it works really great on cats, too, but if it says ‘dog’ or doesn’t specify cats, they don’t like it. That’s true of shampoos, brushes and other grooming tools. We try to carry products that are specifically for cats since cat owners do tend to be particular about that.”—Kelly Parsons, manager of Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash.