Sunday, March 16, 2014

2014 Global Pet Expo Report

Here's the Latest from Global Pet Expo!

Boy, do my feet hurt, but I've spent three days walking the huge show floor at the 2014 Global Pet Exp, finding the latest and greatest cat products for you! Here's a rundown of some of the things you'll hopefully be seeing on within the coming months:

Trends in Cat Products

Every year at GPE, I meet with my existing suppliers and find new ones. There were a few definite trends I saw at this year's show:
  • More attention being paid to cats' unique needs. Cats are often misunderstood, which leads people to fail to provide for their needs. This leads to the cats exhibiting normal feline behavior that's channeled into the wrong place because they don't have an appropriate outlet for it, and people mistakenly thinking that the cat is being "bad" or is doing something to get "revenge" against them. But when appropriate outlets are provided for a cat to behave like a cat, it makes both cat and owner happier. Several new products addressed this. They include the Kitty Connection modular cat play furniture, where owners can customize their cat's playground by combining different modules.
  • Prettier designs in cat furniture. Gone are the days when all you could get was a carpeted pole to sit in your living room! Now there are artfully created cat trees that will blend seamlessly with your decor, as well as mini-sofas, wooden crates, coordinating storage pieces for toys and other kitty accoutrements, and beautiful scratchers in more furniture-like designs. You'll be seeing more of these on soon.
  • New trends in cat litter. It seemed like every company that makes cat litter was showing a new lightweight line. The one from Tidy Cats is already on the market. Smart Cat and Cats Pride were some more I saw here. Natural litters made from wood and other waste items in the food production industry were also popular, many of these dust-free for cats' respiratory health. Oko Cat, Smart Cat, Plains Hemp, and EcoLife were some of these brands. And litters or litter additives that change color to indicate urinary tract infections were also new. Bramton Simple Solutions had one of the most obvious color-changing litter additives. It's still proving difficult for me to find suppliers who can ship individual orders of litter directly to's customers. Most of them are set up to ship in pallet-loads, not individual containers.
  • More options in walking vests for cats. Most cat clothing has to be adapted from that made for dogs, and it doesn't always fit properly. Cats have longer, narrower bodies and are less barrel chested than dogs. They need clothing that fits tighter to the body so they can't wriggle out of it or get a paw caught in it. And companies that make harnesses are finally realizing that a lot of people would like to walk their cats on leashes, or at least have vests they can wear so they can be tethered into strollers and car seats. Two in particular stood out there: the Kitty Holster from Crazy K Farms and the new line of cat harnesses from Sturdi Products.
  • Alternatives to veterinary care. People who own cats still take their cats to the vet less often than do those with dogs. Many don't even get an annual checkup. Cats are notoriously good at masking their symptoms of illness. It's a survival tactic in the wild, but in a home it can mean the difference between catching an illness early enough to treat it, and its becoming a death sentence for the cat. One company I found at GPE makes kits where people can take a sample and send it off to them for testing, at a much lower price point than a veterinary visit. Some others sell skin healing products that can be used at home to clear problems like mange. These could be a godsend for many rescues taking in cats afflicted with skin problems. While these can't take the place of an ongoing relationship with your veterinarian and a good well-care program, they may help people who have more cats than they can afford to regularly vet.
  • More ways to interact with your cats. Far from being aloof, our cats actually crave interaction with us. Web cams can not only allow you to see what your cats are doing when you're away from home, but some now have devices that allow you to speak to your cats, play with them using a remote-operated toy, or dispense a treat to them! Others can be set on timers to begin operating throughout the day so kitty doesn't get bored while you're away.

The Newest Cat Fashions

One of my main goals at this year's GPE was to find some cat clothing items for an upcoming TV appearance on pet fashion that I'll be making in a couple of weeks. Sadly, I saw no exhibitors showing clothing made exclusively for cats, other than the walking vests and several new knockoffs of the Thundershirt calming garment for them. 

And dog clothing just doesn't always work on cats. Cat have longer, narrower bodies than dogs. They're less barrel-chested. Their legs are longer and thinner than on dogs with a comparable body size. Cats also will tolerate less clothing than will dogs. It needs to fit tighter to the body so they won't get a paw caught in it while squirming to try and escape from it. They don't like noisy clothing that may take away their ability to stealthily creep up on their prey. And most cats just aren't as frou-frou as those little yappy dogs that everyone seems to love dressing up and carrying around under their arms.

I've found that most people who make clothing specifically for cats tend to be cottage industries: just one person working from home. They have to not only know the measurements of different types of cats, but also understand cats to really do it well. Once they get an Etsy store and start selling online, they can no longer still meet the demand of supplying customers of sites like mine along with the orders they're getting from their own stores. Yet, they're not at a point in their growth yet where they can expand to add more sewers. It's a catch-22 situation that results in a dearth of cat fashions available.

What I'm left with are people who make custom clothing for dogs or cats using their actual measurements, or those whose fashions are designed for the thinner breeds of dogs like whippets, so they're made longer and narrower to fit their thinner bodies. There were some of these suppliers at the show, and I'll be following up with them this week to get some items for the TV segment, as well as getting them added to

All in all, it was another great Global Pet Expo! If the show gets any larger, as it seems to every year, they'll need to expand it to four days in order to make it possible to see everything. And I'm not sure my poor old feet will take that! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to soak a nice tub of water. Visit Old Maid Cat Lady's Facebook page to see photos and some video of some of the new products from this year's Global Pet Expo.

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