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Cat Marketplace: Shed Control Awareness on the Rise

Posted: August 20, 2012, 7 p.m. EDT

With the proper tools, cat owners are more willing than ever to help their pets keep excessive loose hair at bay.

Retailers can help owners deal with the issue of cat shedding thanks to the many tools and products currently on the market. However, until recently, many cat owners did not often view deshedding products as both a way to decrease the hair found around their homes and help promote a cat’s healthy coat, retailers reported.

“Shedding control is pretty new in the last few years,” said Ray Liskowski, owner of Happy Tails, a groomer in Chicago. “People groom their cats a lot more now, and the more you do it, the more [the cats] get used to it.”

Along with coming in more often for cat grooming services, Liskowski said, he’s seeing more cat owners use brushes and combs to keep their pets’ shedding under control, and he also recommends shampooing and blow drying to remove unwanted loose hair.

The perception that cats can take care of themselves is starting to wane, and owners are reaping the benefits of cat deshedding tools that promote less dander, less pet hair and less hairballs in their homes and on their furniture, noted both retailers and manufacturers.

Cat hair shedding control products
Brushing is one of the easiest shed control methods retailers can recommend. Katie Ingmire/Bowtie Inc. at Pet Supply
“One of the biggest things we’re seeing is that the pet industry has really pushed the importance of cat grooming,” said Christina Pawlosky, national training manager and certified master groomer at Jarden Animal Solutions in Boca Raton, Fla. “For years there was this concept that cats groomed themselves, but they really do need to be groomed and maintained to prevent matting and hairballs. And, just like grooming their dogs, more people are starting to groom their cats.”

Unfortunately, many customers don’t come in searching for cat deshedding tools until it is too late, retailers stated. So many stores find it beneficial to talk about deshedding products as part of a larger conversation for a healthier pet, including diet and supplements.
“I would say most people come in here when their cat is already severely matted,” said Laura Bednarczyk, owner of LuLu & Luigi, which has three grooming boutiques in the Twin Cities, Minn., area. “While it’s true cats are able to take care of themselves, a little help doesn’t hurt. After people learn to help take care of their cats’ coats, we do see them again.”

Bednarczyk has found success selling combs, brushes and a deshedding shampoo for cats called Shaggy Cat from Bobbi Panter, which she also uses in the grooming salon.

“We really had to search for a good cat shampoo, because there isn’t much out there,” she added.

Liquid Help
As cat grooming and bathing becomes more common for pet owners, consumable cat shedding control products such as shampoos and supplements are viable alternatives or additions to traditional grooming tools.

“There are better shampoos out there now than when I first started,” said Jean McCoy, owner of To Wag For, a boutique and spa in Santa Monica, Calif. “People have become more aware in what they want and are more willing to bathe their pets. If you get the right shampoos without salt, it really does help with the dander and it loosens up the hair, and I do find that cat owners are more willing to buy shampoos and other products now and do these things themselves.”

To Wag For’s most popular deshedding products include Shaggy Cat shampoo and conditioner and Furminator combs, McCoy said.

The Shaggy Cat combined shampoo and conditioner came about after frequent customer feedback for a cat shedding control shampoo product similar to the company’s dog product, reported Bobbi Panter, owner and creator of Bobbi Panter Natural Pet Products in Chicago. The shampoo, which uses all-natural ingredients and is thickened with conditioning ingredients, loosens a cat’s undercoat to help keep shedding problems at bay, Panter said.

Fur Removal for the Home
Hair removal products can be bought at big-box stores, pharmacies and many other places; however, pet retailers can still find success with such products at checkout points and in grooming aisles near deshedding tools and shampoos.

Manufacturers also are helping pet retailers with products that have extra features or multiple uses to distinguish themselves from more traditional products on the market.

Bissell manufactures several products for pet hair removal, including the Fur Get It handheld sweeper, Furr & Fuzz Multi-surface Brush, and 2 in 1 Ruff Roller Lint Remover, which is a combination sticky roller and hair-lifter fabric that aims to pick up more hair with fewer sheets.

“Pet hair removal is one of the greatest pain points for pet owners, and we wanted to create a line of differentiated tools that produced an added value,” said Matt Conran, brand manager at Bissell Homecare Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Pets On Broadway carries sticky rollers and a sponge product from Four Paws Products called the Magic Pet Hair Remover that is reusable for furniture, carpets and other hard-to-get-to places.

“People don’t ask for a hair remover, but that’s something we might suggest as we’re walking around the store talking about shedding control,” said Joe Morton, general manager at the Portland, Ore., store. “We don’t look at anything as add-ons. It’s all a part of the conversation; we want to show people things that make their lives easier.”  —MMS

Cat hair removal product for the home
Hair removal products can be promoted as a hassle-free solution to cat owners. Courtesy of Bissell Homecare Inc.

“All our products are safe for cats, but I kept hearing from cat owners that they wanted their own specific products, and that’s why it came about,” Panter noted. “It’s important to cat owners to buy products targeted for them.”

To meet cat owner demand for specific products for their feline companions, Lambert Kay, a division of PBI/Gordon Corp. in Kansas City, Mo., released its Linatone Shed Relief product for cats.

“From data of our pet panel and research, the No. 1 or 2 complaint from cat owners is shedding,” said Alyssa Mazur, communications manager of animal health products at Lambert Kay. “In addition, cat owners, as a whole, feel like there isn’t as much emphasis on cats as on dogs, so we really wanted to give retailers an exclusive product offering just for them. Oftentimes, cat owners will try something just because it’s cat specific.”

Linatone Shed Relief for Cats, which sports a newly updated label for 2012, is a daily liquid supplement that can be given directly to the cat or added to food. Its formula of omega fatty acids helps strengthen hair follicles and promote a healthy skin and coat without excessive shedding, Mazur said.

Top Tools
While shampoos and supplements are favorites for groomers, retailers and customers whose cats will tolerate the products, tools such as brushes and combs still remain the most popular deshedding tools for cats, according to retailers. In recent years, manufacturers have expanded their lines of deshedding tools with different sizes and breed-specific products to make the most of their effectiveness.

“We always start the conversation by recommending a good diet, but if people are open to it, defurring tools like the Furminator and Shed Magic are great sellers and really do help with shedding,” said Joe Morton, general manager of Pets On Broadway in Portland, Ore.

This past February, Jarden Animal Solutions launched a cat version of its popular ShedMonster grooming brush based on retailer and customer feedback.

“It’s a little more compact than the dog versions and it’s easier for grooming cats,” said Mike Braun, senior product manager at the company. “It’s also very gentle, which is important for cat owners. Because of the way it’s designed, no sharp edges go against the skin.”

After launching its dog deShedding Tool, Furminator, a brand of United Pet Group, quickly added to it with a cat-specific offering in four SKUs based on hair length and body size.
“We are noticing cat parents becoming more engaged, and people are getting this message that deshedding them can be a great opportunity for bonding,” said Cathy Heimberger, corporate marketing director at the St. Louis company.
As part of its 2012 strategy, Furminator is updating its cat deShedding Tool packaging to clearly distinguish between its sizes and types of products.

“Consumers want to be able to easily see which products make the most sense for their pet,” Heimberger added.

Some pet owners want to groom their cats but find that bathing or traditional deshedding tools won’t be tolerated by their pets. To reach this market of cat owners, TruFeet launched Kitty Tongue the Glove last year. The Kitty Tongue glove is a machine-washable, flexible five-fingered glove that has hundreds of soft mini hooks that are meant to mimic a cat’s grooming licks while grabbing loose fur and dirt along the way, according to the company.

“A lot of consumers are looking for different types of products to use in addition to traditional grooming products,” said Esin Salter, owner of TruFeet in Sunnyvale, Calif. “Some cats may not like those traditional products, and for others, it’s a nice, social interaction with the cat parents to provide that bonding experience.”

Demonstrated Success
Regardless of the product, retailers and manufacturers recommended demonstrations, images or videos whenever possible to show off the results of shedding control tools. It can be difficult for consumers to imagine that any product can make a noticeable difference in their pet’s shedding.

“There really is such a wow factor when people witness the process of deshedding a cat and how successful that can be,” Heimberger said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for retailers to allow consumers to witness the process with a video or demonstration.” <HOME>

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