Posted: June 21, 2012, 8:20 p.m. EDT
Fashion and Function
Owners look to retailers to provide safe, quality cat collars in fun and compelling designs.
By Audrey Pavia
Cat collars used to be strictly functional items whose main purpose was to carry an identification tag or a bell. These days, they’re so much more. Manufacturers are offering a plethora of stylish looks for felines this season, making cat collars about fashion as well as functionality.
Taking their cue from the ready-to-wear industry, collar manufacturers are reflecting the looks being seen in women’s apparel. Designed to make a fashion statement, these collars are catching the eyes of cat owners.
Creating an enticing display of collars can encourage cat owners to add different styles to their collections. Sherri L. Collins/BowTie Inc. at Nature Pet Centre
“This spring, Coastal Pet Products expanded the Fashion Safe Cat line along with the Li’l Pals Kitten line,” said Diane Thomas, marketing manager of the Alliance, Ohio-based manufacturer. “In the Fashion Safe Cat line, we added the Jeweled Buckle Collars, which are available in pink, silver, red, black and blue. They feature jeweled buckles on glitter collars.”
The collars have the ability to adjust from 8 inches to 12 inches, and have a breakaway feature to ensure cat safety, according to Thomas, who noted that the Fashion Printed Safe Cat Adjustable Breakaway Collars are now available in five new patterns: Blue Fish, Pink Zebra, Green Dot, Blue Leopard and Wild Flower.
The company’s Li’l Pals Kitten Printed Safe Cat collars also come in new patterns: Green Dot, Wild Flower, Daisy Multi Color and Special Paw Brown. Also new in this line are red and yellow reflective collars. These breakaway buckle collars are the only buckles available with a breaking point low enough to ensure the safety of kittens, according to Thomas.
Bling and bold prints are still popular in the human apparel market, and the trend is alive and well in cat collars, too. Designer and CEO Lucy Medeiros described the latest collection of hand-crafted Swarovski crystal cat collars from Roxy and LuLu Urban Doggie Wear.
Beyond Collars: Harnesses and Leashes
Caring cat owners are opting to allow their cats outdoors only under supervision, creating a market for harnesses and leashes designed specifically for felines.
“Cat owners are looking for comfort and security in a harness,” said Gregg Miller, co-owner of Litterboy.com, an online retailer. “They want to know they can walk their cat safely around their yard or down the street. In leashes, customers want style.”
A unique harness currently on the market is the Kitty Holster, made from 100 percent cotton. The lightweight, patented design secures with Velcro closures, according to manufacturer Crazy K Farm.
“The patterns have been updated for 2012,” said Tobi Kosanke, president of the Hempstead, Texas, company. “We offer it in Red Bandana, Solid Black, Denim Blue, Awareness Pink, Tiger Stripe and Leopard Print. New for 2012 are 6-foot matching leashes.”
Coastal Pet Products in Alliance, Ohio, also offers a wide variety of harnesses for cats.
“The Comfort Soft mesh harness provides comfort and security, and is fully adjustable for the perfect fit,” stated Diane Thomas, marketing manager, who said the product is constructed of breathable, lightweight polyester blend materials.
“Durable heavy-duty stitching and a metal D-ring help to ensure outdoor safety,” she added.
The company’s other product in this category, the Size Right Nylon Adjustable Cat Harness, features snag-proof nylon, a curved back pad for comfort and a nickel-plated swivel O-ring to attach to the leash; the Figure “H” Cat Harnesses features adjustable sides for easy sizing, the company reported.
Known for its retractable dog leashes, West Chester, Ohio-based Flexi USA is now producing a similar product for cats.
“We were seeing more and more retailers with space dedicated to cat harnesses and leashes, so it was only natural to include a retractable leash for cat owners,” said Rick Witte, vice president of sales for Flexi USA. “Cat owners like these leashes mainly for two reasons. First, the leash is always taut so there is no slack where the leash could end up between the cat’s legs. And secondly, they can lock the leash at any length they desire.”—AP
“We have four different collections: Birthstone Glam, which consists of the 12 birthstone months of the year; Urban Jungle, for the feline who wants to make a statement in camouflage and animal motifs; Trendy Posh, for different stylish looks; and Euro Sport, a celebration of flag designs representing the countries scheduled to play this summer in the Euro soccer tournament,” she said.
Cat owners who want to outfit their felines with something special are drawn to collars like this, which emphasize fashion.
The Roxy & LuLu crystal line is popular with customers at Poochie Glam, a luxury pet spa and boutique in Laval, Quebec, Canada.
“They are hands down the most popular cat collars we sell,” said Tania Fournier, president and founder of the spa and boutique. “The dazzling arrangement of Swarovski crystals and appealing design makes this collection very attractive.”
She added that the versatility of the products allows owners to mix and match styles.
Petmate is also offering fashion cat collars as a new addition to its standing collar line.
“This line of collars features a ribbon overlay in four contemporary color palettes, with matching ‘meow’ buckle and bell,” said Courtney Cochrane, product manager for the Arlington, Texas, company. “Each color palette is also available in four fun designs and a coordinating glow in the dark option.”
The inspiration for this line was the current trend toward more sophisticated and fashionable fabrics and colors in pet products, said Cochrane.
“Many pet owners are seeking out products that are not only functional and practical, but can also represent their sense of style,” she said.
Up Country scores on both points. The East Providence, R.I., manufacturer is producing cat collars designed to look good while providing safety for cats that go outdoors.
“Lightweight, flexible nylon webbing collars with signature artist-designed ribbons are fastened with a breakaway clasp,” said Donna Bodell, director of marketing. “This is the safest way for cats to dress. The clasp will release under pressure to assure safe outdoor play, but is durable for daily wear.”
New styles in these collars include Mums, BFF and Sweetie.
Cat collars that are visible in the dark are also in demand, according to Gregg Miller, co-owner of Litterboy.com, an online retailer.
“Our customers are looking for problem solvers in this category, and they want collars that are reflective so cats that go outside can be easily spotted,” he said.
Cat collars designed for both fashion and safety are most popular with customers at Well Bred, a pet boutique in Chester, N.J.
“My customers look for cat safety collars by and large,” owner Patti Storms said. “They also want ‘pretty’ collars that are breakaway for safety.”
Storms noted that collars with a small bell attached do very well, along with velveteen collars with small rhinestones.
She has also found that customers appreciate the different collar designs available in her store.<HOME>
“They don’t see these designs in the big box stores,” she said.
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