Pixabay, cat playing with toy

Dog owners seem to typically get all the attention, particularly when it comes to marketing and production for pet food, pet products and pet services, but cat owners want to see that change, according to a new report by market research firm Packaged Facts. One reason for the focus on dogs is that dog ownership rates have been increasing, while cat ownership rates have remained flat, officials said. Another reason is that dogs tend to be much more lucrative in terms of products and services, officials added.

“Traditionally, and still too often, pet product manufacturers, retailers and marketers tend to give cats short shrift, including in the minds of cat owners,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts in Rockville, Md., which recently published the report Durable Dog and Cat Petcare Products, 3rd Edition.

In Packaged Facts’ Survey of Pet Owners, cat owners were asked whether they perceive that cats are “sometimes treated as second class” compared to dogs by various types of players in the pet industry. Across the board to varying degrees, the answer was “yes,” including for general merchandise stores that sell pet products (with 51 percent of cat owners agreeing strongly or somewhat that cats sometimes get second-class treatment), companies that make pet food/treats (45 percent), companies that make non-food products (45 percent), pet specialty stores (44 percent) and veterinarians (41 percent).

Based on an informal survey of new product introductions and email promotions over the past few months, this appears to be changing, officials noted.

“Last year, many of the new products introduced at Global Pet Expo 2020 were cat-focused, including New Product Showcase winners Moody Pet’s Fling-Ama-String and Four Paws’ Kitty Kat Circus, and during 2020 Petco unleashed a slew of promotional emails with feline-focused headlines including ‘You had me at Meow,’ ‘Kitty 101’ and ‘Kitty’s first shopping list,’” officials said. “More and better durable products for cats (and more marketing attention) stand to encourage cat owners to invest more heavily in the health and happiness of their fur children and—most important of all—attract more Americans into the feline fold.”

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