By Saquib Pathan*
Covid pandemic has hit almost all the sectors globally creating either a huge demand for some goods or drastic decline in some goods. The pet industry somehow remained immune to the effects of pandemic, showing growth for many companies.
India is witnessing a change in the Cat sector owing to its young demography, urbanization, and the rising middle class with more disposable income. There is an increased inclination of people towards keeping cats, especially given the urban scenario of nuclear family where a pet is seen as completing the family or making the house a home. The cats are a great way to destress in today’s hectic work schedules.
As our cities grow, cats have become an ideal pet. As space is a concern in big cities, cats are convenient to keep as they require less space. In comparison to bigger animals like dogs, cats don’t need walks and human attention. Cats are much suited for a flat than dogs.
There are around 5.5 million domestic cats in India. FCI has a database of more than a lakh cats registered across India.
The pandemic saw a huge growth in pet adoption, be it dogs, cats, birds or exotic pets. The lockdown saw demands for pets increasing all across the country, be it urban or rural.
The increase in cat population has brought a change in the market as well, with increasing number of products catering to cats well being introduced to Indian market that is dominated by dog products. The cat food market alone was worth INR 663 million in 2013, which has risen to INR 1320 million in 2019, with a record growth of 95.8%. This segment is estimated to rise to INR 2590 million by 2024.
We also saw many new brands of cat food launched in the market and even the established brands bringing in new variants specific to breeds, age, and health condition of cats.
People are also getting aware of cat care, which is evident from the increased demand for cat products like litterbox, litter sand, cat toys etc.
Cat litter has a clear potential of increasing in use amongst the urban consumers. However, this is still primarily price-driven – consumers tend to be on the lookout for brands that offer large quantities of cat litter at lower prices. Many cat owners in India still recycle and reuse cat litter, restricting sales. But the potential for greater penetration and usage is high. The cat litter segment is dominated by bentonite, although we do see other cat litter being introduced even in the premium range. Automated cat litter box is another popular item in the market.
Beauty products and cat accessories such as toys and clothes are gaining significance. Many SMEs are involved in making these accessories, teasers, toys etc.
The rise in demand of cat grooming gives a huge scope to manufacturers to explore new opportunities. Many pet spas and salons have opened across India in response to growing interest in pet grooming among pet owners. International grooming brands are now available in Indian markets and even more cat specific shampoos and grooming products are being introduced in the market. Overall, cat products are expected to continue performing well during the forecast period as cat owners are likely to be increasingly influenced by western culture.
However, the sudden boom in pets during the pandemic is also showing a dark side that of abandonment of many of these pets as they were brought into their home to get rid of the boredom of lockdown. Having a pet is a commitment and one cannot be half prepared for it. When they fill our life with so much joy, it is only apt to give them the life they deserve.
*President, The Feline Club of India.