2016 Global Pet Expo Top 10 Cat Products
Global Pet Expo, in Orlando, Florida is the largest pet industry trade show of its kind. With over 1000 brands exhibiting this year, it’s impossible for one person to visit every booth but I made a good dent in the cat-centric category and clocked a marathon of miles beginning with the Skywalk bridge to the Orange County Convention Center.
If you missed it, check out our Global Top 5 Food/Treat list.
This year there were specialized sections including: Natural Pet, The Boutique, Everything Aquatic, What’s New! and the International Pavilion. To narrow down my top 10 cat products selction, I focused on new, eco-friendly products either made in the U.S. or sustainably sourced (with one exception to placate my inner child). Not only did I have to love the product but the people behind the product. I met with CEOs, small business owners, PR and sales reps and my choices were from the heart. You can’t fake passion or a good heart.
None of these brands are past or present sponsors to allow for a completely unbiased opinion. They are numbered in no particular order.
1) The Green Pet Shop KatPak Disposable Litter Box
The KatPak, a disposable litter box (in packs of 4) opens accordion-style and made from strong recycled paper is 100% biodegradable. Ideal for travel, moving, or emergencies. Pregnant women can dispose of the litter without any contact with used litter. The KatPak is a fun hideaway too since we all know cats can’t resist paper bags and boxes.
2) R2P Pets Variety of catnip and other toys.
The R2P brand has a number of pet toy brands. My favorite were from CATegories. This is a tiny sampling of a huge variety not available in stores yet. The large birds and fuzzy coils appealed to me and I’m curious how my cats would like the new toys that light up when pounced on.
3) Sauder Pet Home Collection Interactive Pet Cube
The family-owned Ohio-based company, which for more than 80 years has created stylish and affordable home furnishings for people, is now offering the same for pets. The sophisticated, modern designs are built like furniture for humans. I’m always looking for ways to use furniture the cats can use with turning in crazy cat lady decor. This handy multi-purpose table, perch, stool, scratcher is ideal.
4) Penn-Plax Cat Walk beds
This was the first booth that caught my eye with the Disney Frozen imagery. They do a number of Disney licensed products and while everything is made in China, my inner child liked everything. I snapped a few pics but I was running late and I didn’t have a chance to stop by until running back to catch a flight home. The family-owned firm has been in business since 1958. They sell to major retailers and I could find none selling the new items yet. There were a couple of furniture pieces that looked suspiciously like those from the Hagen Vesper line. I hope not but I’m going to follow-up because my next pick is from Hagen.
5) Hagen Vesper Line cat scratching perches & Catit Magic Blue
The beautifully designed and constructed Vesper line from Hagen, yet another family-owned business, wowed. The man in the photo, likely a buyer is handling the new V-Playstation for kittens. The new Vesper line in red took the #3 spot at the Global Pet Expo New Products awards. Hagen, founded in my hometown of Montreal in 1955 was my first experience with any pet brand. The photo of the new Magic Blue, a new litter box product which naturally absorbs ammonia and litter box odors is where I sat and chatted and brainstormed ideas (it seemed like the most natural place for cat lovers) with Catit brand manager, Lucas De Boeck from Belgium. We got on so well he snuck into a cupboard and gifted me his massive and fabulous coffee table cat photography book Pure. Pure magic.
6) Ökocat Cat Litter
This isn’t new but it’s new to me. I didn’t know they have 5 varieties and I loved experiencing the very different textures. Öko is German for “eco” or ecological, meaning green or organic. Ökocat litter is made from 100% reclaimed wood. It naturally absorbs liquid and inhibits bacterial growth. What sold me is that it weighs 50% to 60% less than clay litters. What interested me the most were the dust-free formula and the Soft Step which so naturally soft for delicate paws of kittens, seniors and poor kitties that are declawed.
7) Mugue Pet Lint Rollers
Mugue is an old family-owned company (are we seeing a trend here) from Italy. I really wish I’d been able to spend more time in the international section. What’s different and amazing about these innovative lint rollers is you can use them on pets safely to remove excess hair but they do more than that. The Pelu Pet Cat formula removes dander, eliminating allergans while releasing a tiny bit of essential oils to repell fleas. Another roller has nourishing argan oil and nourishing neem oil. They even have one for humans that removes 99% of mites and of course, one that does an awesome job removing pet hair. I’m looking forward to seeing this line distributed in U.S. stores soon!
8) Petlinks Hyper Nip
I love all the toys from Petlinks but wowed me was Hyper Nip, their brand new potent blend of catnip with silvervine. Not all cats respond to catnip but mixing in silvervine increases the odds of extra pleasure. Simply purrfect!
9) Oasé BiOrb Feline Environmental Enrichment
Okay, this isn’t exactly a cat product but I was so taken away by this product, I think it could be better than “squirrel TV” for cats. I’ve always loved the idea of aquariums but they’re so much work to clean and upkeep. I thought a goldfish bowl would be fun but cats will be cats and glass breaks. These aquariums are made of acrylic which is ten times stronger than glass and super easy to maintain. Simply replace the filter cartridge every four weeks and change a third of the water. For safety and peace of mind, the lights and pump are low voltage and are backed by a 12-month guarantee. There are a number of models and sizes but I fell for the BiOrb Halo. The one in the photo is the small one. With its hidden waterline, it’s a visually seamless and cat-proof aquarium. It’s fitted with a ring of LED lights which at night automatically switches to the calm moonlight setting. Sounds pretty darn purrfect to me. The company was just acquired and the website does not have the BiORB listed yet.
10) Pet Memorial Products PawPods and Pet Perennials
This is a two-way tie between two pet memorial products that celebrate our love for pets in a natural way. I had the good fortune to speak at length with the owners of PAWPODS and PET Perennials after the show. As many of you know, our 21-year-old cat Merlin is in decline and the inevitable is on my mind. I don’t want to repeat past of scrambling to find a burial container, digging in the nice spot but hitting tree roots, finding out the hole is too small while bawling my eyes out.
There is nothing we can do to prepare for the shock of death but we can prepare how we deal with death. That’s why I’ve decided to prepare in advance and have selected a PawPods casket for Merlin.
Grieving is stressful but knowing there will be one less thing to worry about, is a comfort. PawPods have urns and burial pods made of eco-friendly and biodegradable bamboo and rice husks in different sizes and come with a seeded wildflower leaf for seeding the burial area. The strong but smooth surface but can be painted or decorated with symbols, name, quote or any creative expression to ease the grieving journey.
Pet Perennials is new way to celebrate the natural cycle of life which includes the death of our beloved cats. The idea is about “keep giving” as nature does with seed wafers made with or without cremation remains. The seed wafers are planted in a choice of perennial seeds to bloom year after year in loving memory of our pet. There are kits for family projects like a memorial garden and custom orders for seed wafers in different shapes like hearts or stars. It’s truly a pet loss gift that keeps on giving, naturally.
My biggest takeaway from Global Pet Expo is the concrete evidence of our ever growing passion for pets. We recognize the deep and abiding human-animal bond and want to make their lives happier and healthier. Yes, there were more than top 10 cat products. There were lots of silly or frivolous products our cats could live without, but there were many that will enhance and even save lives.
Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA), announced that overall spending in the pet industry for 2015 came in at a record $60.28 billion, and the APPA estimates that 2016 spending will reach $62.75 billion. I enjoyed chatting with him at a small private event and delighted he won the well deserved Rolf C. Hagan Hall of Fame award.
I anticipate bigger and better things in the world of pet products next year.