by Nancy Hassel, American Pet Professionals
Is the pet industry the cat’s meow? According to our members who’s pet businesses are all about felines, cats are just not represented as much as dogs in the pet industry.
However the cat area of our pet industry is growing, (and has been), and it is not slowing down anytime soon. From a much bigger selection of cat products compared to years ago, to cat cafes gaining a lot of popularity over the years, and the focus on cat health and wellness, the cat industry has grown. There are even cat-focused events that draw in hundreds if not thousands of cat aficionados, like CatCon hosted in Pasadena annually, cat film festivals across the country and even cat fancy shows to see purebred cats compete for Best in Show. The cat area may not yet be nearly as big as the dog area of our industry, but it is catching up.
There are a few cat specific retail stores like Meow Mini Mart that went from an ecommerce store and pop-up shop to a brand new brick-and-mortar location in Jersey City, NJ.
Sherry Cassin, the founder of Meow Mini Mart commented that, "Cats are very underserved in the traditional pet stores and cat parents are frustrated. We are giving them an upscale cat-focused supply store that they have always wanted for their cats, and the shop the cats truly deserve."
With that said, Cassin went on to say, "I have seen a tremendous change in the last 9 years since I adopted my cat Laszlo. The industry has done a great job over the years with cats specifically in the food, litter and supplements categories. The younger generations want to feed their cats healthy foods like they eat, use more sustainable litters like plant-based litters and recognize the need for supplements to help with a variety of issues that many cat parent deal with like digestive problems and urinary and kidney problems." Cassin stated that many cat parent customers over the years have commented their frustration in pet stores having fewer selections for cats.
Sherry who is a cat parent to three cats, and had an incredible background in the fashion industry in NYC, was inspired by her cat Laszlo to focus on cats for her pet business.
In addition, there are cat-focused rescues across the country, programs focused on cat education, community cat programs, TNR information for the general public and so much more. You can even take a course on cat training on how to be a cat trainer and/or cat behaviorist to help cat parents with their cats.
At the Animal Health Nutrition & Technology summit earlier this June in Boston, there was an entire panel session about the ‘Opportunity in Cats.’ One of the fun facts that came up is that AI face ID was started by identifying cat faces. (Who knew!?).
The session also shed a light on how cats are not getting the proper veterinary care after year 1. Cat parents do not bring their cats in for regular well checks like dog parents do, and many of our veterinarian members agreed when I brought this topic up.
Cat products and businesses get less venture funding according to the session panelists, which was evident when one of the really cool cat tech products that was presented in the pitch session, lost to a pet app.
The panelists also talked about how information that is known about cats is still somewhat limited compared to dogs.
One thing I have noticed at trade shows, is that often pet products that can be used by both cats and dogs, cats are often left off of the marketing. It’s an aside, ‘oh yes, this is ok for cats too’, or ‘we have cat line’ as well. Or the product for cats is not marketed or advertised by the vendor in the same way for dogs. Don’t leave money on the table my pet product-manufacturing friends. If you have cat and dog products, you should be marketing the cat products just as much.
When you think back to when social media first started, cat videos were all the rage. Some of the funniest videos and ‘catoons’ (pet pun!), were hilarious and we all shared those across the early stages of social media.
Today cat influencers like our friends Sterling the TrapKing Davis and NathanTheCatLady are out there educating cat parents, TNR’ing (trap/spay/neuter/release) community feral cats, and bringing much needed awareness to feral cats across the country. And they are having a lot of fun along the way raising that awareness about cats to their hundreds of thousands of fans and followers.
In fact, this month, September is Happy Cat Month – that was created by the Catalyst Council and annual celebration to help educate and inform cat owners in what they can do to ensure their pet is happy and healthy. The CATalyst Council is a non-profit entity that was created to connect three distinct groups: Veterinary Medicine, Shelter/Animal Welfare, and related Industry entities such as Foundations and Cat Fanciers, the Media, and commercial companies.
Cats have often been referred to as self-sufficient pets; I don’t think that is as true as we have been led to believe in the past. Cats need love, affection, training, health care, healthy food and treats, and interaction as much as dogs do. Back in the day, when I did pet sitting – I took care of a lot of cats, and even taught a cat how to sit for a treat on command, just like a dog. Cats are wicked smart, if you have ever owned a cat, you already know this.
So for Happy Cat Month, I hope that you take your cat for a well-check at your vet, if it has not been in a while, head to the pet store and see what cool new cat products are out there that you can purchase, if you are back in the office full time, please consider getting a pet sitter that specifically works with cats (or has a good amount of cat experience). And if you can foster or adopt, our shelters are usually quite full with cats needing homes.
For the pet professionals out there, that are purr-suing a career to work with cats, I believe the sky is the limit. Just like with dogs, the opportunities are endless to have a career focused on your love for cats. Whether it is a cat product, cat-café, retail store, cat grooming, cat specific veterinarian, cat pet sitter, cat focused animal rescue, cat educator for pet parents, the ideas are endless.
Are you a cat business or up and coming pet professional who wants to work specifically in the cat arena? We would love to know, feel free to message us on Instagram @AmericanPetPros.