Feline-Friendly Living Spaces
The latest trend in cat beds and furniture is high-quality pieces that enhance décor and offer a comfy retreat for pets.
P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You)
Pet owners love to pamper their cats. They want to keep their pets cozy, so it is important to offer comfortable beds and furniture that cat owners can enjoy viewing in their living spaces.
Mark Strayer, principal designer at Sauder Woodworking Co. in Archbold, Ohio, said that industry trends show pet owners are looking for the best, highest-quality products. The company’s consumer research shows that nearly 80 percent of millennial pet owners regard their pets as family members, and 76 percent would buy certain items for their pets before buying something for themselves, Strayer said.
“Today’s pet owners believe their pets should be pampered, resulting in owners buying products that demonstrate a sense of sophistication and style,” he said. “Owners prefer products that fit their lifestyle and have clean lines, modern designs and soft fabrics.”
Consumers are looking for products for their cats that fit with their décor, not something that they feel they have to hide away if guests come over, said Kate Benjamin, an e-tailer and the founder of Hauspanther, an online magazine for design-conscious cat owners.
“The idea of designing your home with your cats in mind and still in keeping with your own aesthetic sense is really taking hold,” she said. “I’m also seeing increased popularity of natural fabrics that are both attractive and durable, like hemp and organic cotton. These materials appeal to cat owners looking for quality products for their cats that are also eco-conscious.”
|Finding the greater feline aesthetic|
It wasn’t too long ago when stylish cat furniture was hard to find, but manufacturers recently began realizing that the market for these products is strong.
“I think the increase is due to the trend toward an understanding of a cat’s needs of enrichment as well as the goals of the pet parents to create those environments without letting the home ‘go to the cats,’” said Bill Parsons, sales manager at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) in San Francisco.
Brad Kriser, founder and CEO of Kriser’s Natural Pet, which has stores in Southern California and the Denver, Houston and Chicago areas, said unique cat bed designs that cater to the preferences of cats are starting to gain popularity due to more and more cat owners paying attention to their cats’ individual personalities and then purchasing products that suit those preferences. That has led to an increase in sales at the stores, he said.—KL
Damian Hall, senior marketing manager of Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. in Mansfield, Mass., said the company has noticed a trend for high-quality, meaningful and good-looking cat furniture, and it launched a new line at Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., this year.
“Traditionally, cat owners were limited in their options, with many ‘cat trees’ made of cardboard posts and tubes and a carpet base,” he said. “We designed something different—the Vesper V-line—that provides materials that will last, as well as a look that fits well into the décor of today’s modern homes.”
The furniture offers a combination of cubes, platforms and tunnels as well as strategically placed scratching areas to provide comfort and playtime for cats of all ages and sizes, he said.
Getting Some Zzzs
Pet owners consider their pets part of the family, and prefer to integrate their pets’ supplies and sleeping quarters into family common areas. At the same time, consumers have high expectations and are seeking stylish, durable, environmentally friendly products for their pets.
The most prevalent trend in the industry is toward cat beds that are not just stylish, but also functional, said Bill Parsons, sales manager at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) in San Francisco.
“Cats have unique ways of sleeping that differ from dogs in the quality of the surface they are sleeping on, the ability in some cases to hide or be well enclosed in the environment of the bed, or the desire to be high up in the room,” he said.
Earlier this year, the company introduced its Purr & Pounce Tunnel, which is lined with snuggle fabric and has a crinkle internal element as well as a toy mouse attachment that can be filled with catnip.
Some of the latest trends in pet beds include crochet or natural material, such as felt or wool, Strayer said.
“We’re seeing pieces with great hiding places for snoozing, including small clam shell styles,” he said. “Also, humorous themed cat beds, like ones with a shark motif, are gaining popularity.”
A Place in the Home
One of the biggest trends in this category involves multifunctional cat beds and furniture, said Heather Cappel, creative coordinator at Ware Manufacturing in Phoenix. Following this trend, the company recently introduced Kitty Comfort cat furniture, which adds supersoft plush hammocks to traditional carpeted cat furniture to offer a luxury sleeping area along with the scratch benefits of carpet.
Parsons said most cat owners are developing spaces in their homes that give cats interactivity, high places to go, areas to scratch and play, and warm places to sleep.
“It is not enough anymore to just have food bowls and a litterbox; the trend is headed in the direction of the understanding that cats need as much enrichment as humans and dogs,” he said. “This does not, however, mean that a home gets overrun with cat elements. So many cat products today have style and functionality and can add nicely to a home environment’s style.”
This past spring, Sauder introduced sophisticated, modern designs of pet furniture in its Sauder Pet Home Collection, which integrates beautifully into home décor, Strayer said.
So Many Choices
Each month it seems new cat furniture is introduced to the marketplace, giving the retailer a lot to choose from.
“We are seeing some really interesting innovation in the cat realm, appealing to the folks who love their cats like kids,” said Brad Kriser, founder and CEO of Kriser’s Natural Pet, which has stores in Southern California and the Denver, Houston and Chicago areas. “A great example is the P.L.A.Y. Leeloo Cat Scratcher, which we like because of its dual use for cats who both love to scratch but who also want a lounging nook.”
Providing warmth is one of the primary reasons that customers seek out cat beds, especially during the cold winter months, said Jusak Yang Bernhard, co-owner of TailsSpin Pet Food & Accessories, which has stores in Georgia.
“We need to understand that cat owners, as well as their felines, are often very picky and rather easily amused,” he said. “Because of cats’ independence, selling cat beds can be difficult. Cats can and will use the sofa, owner’s bed, etc., to rest their heads. What we’ve found is that a bed that can provide a safe haven for a cat to rest, including padded walls that allow some seclusion, sell well.”
Ann Shevin, president of Mickey’s Pet Supplies in Sarasota, Fla., said durability and washability are important features that most customers are looking for when shopping for cat beds, especially with higher-priced items.
“Customers want something that will withstand wear and tear and still look great after years of washing,” she said.
Many cat beds and furniture pieces are uniquely designed, so it’s important for shoppers to see and experience the products, whether with assembled in-store samples or through visual point-of-purchase displays showcasing the multiple functions and setup options of each piece.
Have cat furniture out on display so that consumers can see and feel the products.
Hagen’s Hall said the best way to market cat furniture is through live, interactive demos.
“We encourage retailers to set up the product on the store floor so consumers can see it and touch it themselves,” he said. “We’re also proponents of having consumers try out the in-store sample with their pets or with the store’s adoptable pets.”
With new product launches, Hagen also reaches out to influencers, bloggers and the media, offering product samples to test and review.
“Receiving feedback from pet owners and industry experts about our products is helpful to make any necessary tweaks and in developing new pet items,” Hall said.
At TailsSpin, Bernhard said he likes to hang the cat beds to get them noticed and display a selection of colors and patterns.
Parsons said retailers should have a discussion with their customers about their home’s style.
“Remind them that all the cat products can be included in a wonderful way in their home because of the visual impact and modern style that the products have,” he said. “Instead of displaying these products on a normal shelf, transform a corner or nook of your store into a cat’s paradise with similar stylish products and add a playful touch such as a cat stuffed animal to easily show your customers they are feline friendly.”
For smaller retail spaces, he recommends retail stores go vertical and choose a few lifestyle photos of products to showcase and help their customers visualize the cat products in their homes.
Ware Manufacturing’s Cappel said space is always a challenge for displaying cat beds and furniture, but having the items out where customers can feel and touch them is a big sales booster.
“Having some models on display as well as some available in a catalog or website where they can be drop-shipped to customers works well for a lot of retailers without enough space,” she said.
In the words of Jackson Galaxy, star of Animal Planet’s hit television series “My Cat From Hell,” “Cats need their own space,” and with products like these, cat owners everywhere can make their homes both cat friendly and chic.