ROCKVILLE, MD. — With dogs so long in the limelight, cat owners and brands catering to their feline companions are looking to pay more attention to this sizeable segment of the market.

According to Packaged Facts, most cat owners surveyed said they agree that felines are “sometimes treated as second-class” in the pet industry compared to their canine counterparts. Today’s increasingly involved cat owners present an opportunity for manufacturers of pet food to expand or fine-tune their cat-specific products to meet evolving demand.

Cat food sales represent $13.1 billion (30%) of total pet food sales, according to the market research firm. Non-food pet supply sales for cat products account for 31% of that category, and 28% of sales in the veterinary space are attributed to cats.

The humanization of cats is in line with that of dogs, with nine out of ten cat owners considering their companions as part of the family, and a majority believing their feline companions positively impact their own physical and emotional health.

Historically, the sheer variety of cat products has been limited compared to dog products, but a rise in cat treat purchases is signaling this lack of choice may become a thing of the past.

According to Packaged Facts, cat treat usage rates are up from 39% in 2007 to 60% in 2021, and wet cat food purchase rates are up from 49% to 60% over the same period. The firm noted that historical purchasing rates for wet cat food are continuing at a higher rate than that of wet dog food, even as wet dog food usage rates continue to climb. The same is true for dog and cat treats – cat treat purchases have surged, but dog treats still have the leg up.

With an aging pet population, owners are becoming more interested in functional supplements targeting age-related needs. More than half of all cat-owning households in the United States currently have a cat that is at least 7 years old or older, according to Packaged Facts. Already, roughly 13% of cat owners are purchasing more personalized products to cater to these specific needs.

This trend carries over to other health concerns, including anxiety and stress and immunity. Packaged Facts reported 24% of cat owners are “especially concerned” about their pets’ anxiety and stress, and another 21% are concerned about their immunity. The growing market for solutions-based foods and functional supplements could grow to become more inclusive to cats.

Packaged Facts shared these findings as part of its latest report, “Cats: US Pet Market Trends and Opportunities”.

Keep up with the latest pet food trends on our Trends page.