Humans worshipped cats in pharaonic times and have been their servants, oneway or another, almost ever since then. But until recently, the felines havenot been getting that kind of deference in the modern-day United States from apet products industry more focused on their canine counterparts.

It’s easy to see why doggos get so much attention from pet stores andmanufacturers. Among U.S. pet owners, spending per dog last year was $1,381,while for cats it was $908, according to the American Pet Products Association(APPA). Most cats are much smaller than most dogs, so they consume less food.Cats are much more difficult to coax into a visit to the vet. And there arefewer cat owners to cater to: 43 million U.S households have a cat, but thereare 63 million with a doggie.

Still, industry players, from big-box retailers to foodmakers to SiliconValley entrepreneurs, are hopeful that they can eventually get pet owners tospend on their cats like they spend on their dogs—and thus expand anunderexplored market. Those folks are seeing promising signs in some productlines: An AlixPartners analysis of APPA’s data found that expenditures onvitamins, treats, toys, and grooming aids are all seeing significant growthamong cat owners. (For more, see “It’s a dogfight at America’s pet stores asCOVID-19 upends the $96 billion industry.”)

Right now, cats account for only about 7% of the $7 billion spent annually onpet treats. Food makers think they can shake that up—not least because, in theera of Instagram and sheltering in place, teaching old cats new tricks is morerewarding for their owners. “You have cat parents who want to reward andengage their cats in new and different ways,” says Rob Ferguson, interim SVPfor pet food, pet snacks, and supply chain at J.M. Smucker, which earlier thisyear launched cat treats under its Rachael Ray Nutrish brand. It remains to beseen whether cats feel the same way, but the industry is prepared to feed thebeast, so to speak. “The cat treats market has been ‘doggified,’” says DavidSprinkle, an analyst with research firm Packaged Facts.

Source: Phil Wahba Fortune

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