It's time to focus on the felines. Historically speaking, the U.S. pet industry has been overtly canine-centric, and not without justification. One reason is that dog ownership rates have been increasing while cat ownership rates have remained flat. Another reason is that dogs tend to be way more lucrative in terms of products and services.
"Traditionally and still too often, pet product manufacturers, retailers, and marketers tend to give cats short shrift, including in the minds of cat owners," says David Sprinkle, research director for market research firm Packaged Facts, 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 is "yes," including for general merchandise stores that sell pet products (with 51% of cat owners agreeing strongly or somewhat that cats sometimes get second-class treatment), companies that make pet food/treats (45%), companies that make non-food products (45%), pet specialty stores (44%), and veterinarians (41%).
Based on an informal survey of new product introductions and email promotions over the past few months, this appears to be changing. 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." 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.