Cat owners are increasingly interested in high-quality foods, and manufacturers offer natural diets with the intent of providing cats with the nutrition they need—without unnecessary ingredients and processing.
Many of the current cat food trends are in line with human nutrition trends, said Amelia Birches, director of social media and public relations for Nulo Pet Food, a manufacturing company in Austin, Texas. She added that people avoid highly processed, synthetic and genetically modified ingredients.
“For Nulo, ‘natural’ means that our cat food is compatible with the nutrition required for carnivores and that the ingredients are high-quality sources from reputable suppliers,” Birches explained. This means that most of the protein in a cat’s diet should come from meat, poultry, and fish rather than plants; that carbohydrates should be kept at minimal levels; And that unnecessary ingredients – such as synthetic or controversial additives – should not be used. ”
For a food to be considered “natural,” said Rob Cadenhead, general manager of Gott Pet Products in St. Francis, Wisconsin, which is the parent company of the Hound & Gatos pet food brand, the food must be sourced from whole food ingredients, prepared without additives or additives. synthetic preservative and to be minimally processed.
Consumers are looking for a brand they can trust and food with recognizable ingredients, said Dan Markinson, president of retail at Dr. Marty’s Bites, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer.
“They look for an easy-to-understand combination of ingredients and a food that their cats will naturally love,” Markinson added. They are also looking for a high protein diet. Cats are omnivores, so they need a diet rich in real meat to thrive.”
With more options available, many cat owners are doing their research.
“Cat parents today are much more enlightened than they ever were,” Cadenhead said. Besides looking for a diet that contains real animal protein, they are looking for diets that contain ingredients that serve a functional purpose, such as sweet potatoes, broccoli, berries, and whole eggs. They steer clear of wet recipes that contain controversial ingredients like animal fats, carrageenan or guar gum, and they avoid dry recipes prepared from cured and processed poultry meals. Every Hound & Gatos recipe is specifically designed with these requirements in mind.”
Shoppers are taking a closer look at what’s in their pet’s food, agreed Sherry Redwine, owner of Odyssey Pets, a Dallas retailer.
“When customers come in and say they want ‘natural food,’ what they really want is healthy food with quality ingredients,” said Redwine. “But it’s not enough for them to see ‘natural’ on the bag. They still want to look at the ingredients — as they should.”
Items such as high-quality protein, life-stage and breed-specific formulations, and superfood ingredients are important to cat owners, Birches said.
“But most impactful are the associated health benefits such as unique formulas for indoor and adult kittens and senior cats — as well as solutions for special needs like weight management and hairballs,” Birches added. Discerning cat food consumers expect the same solutions as conventional products with the added confidence that what they put in their pets bowl is truly the best choice for long-term health.
According to Cadenhead, cat owners who want the best for their pets are willing to pay a little more.
“Freeze-dried diets are gaining popularity, despite their relatively high price,” he said. “I would attribute this to the perceived quality and purity of the ingredients. Wet diets also remain the top choice for pet parents.”
The natural cat food category continues to expand with new varieties, and many manufacturers are turning their attention to offering more water to cats.
“Current market trends show an increased focus on cats’ fluid needs,” said Birchis. “Cats evolved from ancestors that had very little access to free water, so our cats have reduced thirst and are metabolically oriented to obtain water from their food sources. Providing moisture while eating through canned food or toppings Or the broth will increase the cat’s water intake in a way that is consistent with its natural behaviour.”
Birches said Nulo is innovating in the cat hydration space with a variety of wet foods and toppers including Hydrate water boosters as well as three recently introduced product lines for cats: Nulo FreeStyle Signature Stews, Nulo FreeStyle Pâté Cans and Nulo FreeStyle Chunky Broths.
“Nolo’s new recipes for cats include irresistible options like silky-soft pancakes, rich and hearty stews, and tender morsels in flavorful gravy,” Birches said. “In addition to providing cats with high-quality animal protein, these new recipes also feature high levels of moisture to help cats get their daily hydration.”
Markinson noted that cat owners are looking for newer forms, including raw food or gently cooked food suitable for humans.
“They are beginning to understand the potential problems with food that is cooked at high temperatures and then covered in plush foods,” Markinson added.
Last year Dr. Marty Bates launched Dr. Marty Nature’s Essential Feast, which sold well, he reported. The freeze-dried raw cat food line includes three formulas with different protein blends: Poultry. fish and poultry; And beef, salmon and poultry.
“Each formula is made with premium meats for protein and omega-3s to support healthy teeth and skin, easy digestion, balanced energy and vital organs – and antioxidants and prebiotics from real seeds, vegetables and fruits to support lasting health,” Markinson said.
Cat food upgrade
Cats are notoriously picky eaters, so even pet owners who want to switch to a high-quality, natural food may face an uphill battle. But independent pet specialty retailers are perfectly suited to help.
Caitlin McGrath, owner of Belmont Pet Store in Belmont, Massachusetts, said many of her clients need some guidance. This includes education about why switching to healthier food is worth the effort.
“Temperature, taste and texture are three of the most important factors for cats,” she said. “If the cat is already eating pie, stick with it, but find a healthier option. If they really like shredded meat, go for the cut-up portions. We can help transition a cat by keeping it similar to what they used to eat.”
Mark Tencher, manager at The Pet Bowl, a retailer in Delaware, Ohio, agreed and said cat owners usually need some guidance.
“We only carry high-quality brands here, but about half of cat food sales are cause-driven,” Tencher said. “The cat is having a problem, so they make a change. The other half are customers who realize there are better options out there but need some help. We’re very selective about what we carry, so any choice here is a quality one.”
Because cats are such picky eaters, trial sizes, free samples, and/or a money-back guarantee can be excellent tools to encourage cat owners to eat, said Amelia Birches, director of social media and public relations for Nulo Pet Food, a manufacturer in Austin, Texas. to do that. Try something new.
Additionally, the addition of clip strips and end caps with trial-size packets within primary kibble aisles can help suggest a mixed feeding approach, while clip strips in sections such as nutritional supplements can suggest a tailored solution for those looking to solve a common problem such as dry skin. Perches continued. “For those owners who aren’t ready to commit to a diet reform, placing small packages around the store can be an interesting invitation to try.”