Why drink alone when you can drink with your pet?
The question comes from two competing start-ups in the unlikely product category of faux wine
for cats (and, to a lesser extent, dogs) that comes in miniature bottles with cutesy names. No alcohol
is involved (think liquid catnip). But already the company that brought its products to market first, Apollo Peak
— which calls itself “the original cat
winery” — is accusing its newer competitor, Pet
Winery, of being a copycat.
Both ran discount promotions for Valentine’s Day. Both have come up with clever names for their products: For $11.95, people can buy Fluffy an 8-ounce bottle of Catbernet or Pinot Meow from Apollo Peak, which is based in Denver.
Or for $14.95, they can pour 12 ounces of Meow & Chandon from Pet
Winery of Fort Myers, Florida.
can harm cats, these products are essentially catnip water, which can make a cat
loopy and an owner happy.
But based on a wine
tasting I conducted at a local cat
cafe-slash-adoption centre, the products are primarily catnip for the owners: The shelter cats did not like wines from either company — only two of them indulged — but the people visiting the tastings loved the concept.
“That’s the greatest thing ever,” said Savannah Thrasher, 23, a medical biller who was at the Cat
Town Café here. “It would be good if my cat
can enjoy wine
with me,” she said.
It all started two years ago when Brandon Zavala, the chief executive of Apollo Peak, “spawned the idea of wine
for cats out of nowhere”, he said. “A pet
is more like a friend, a roommate or a family member,”
he said. “Why are we just feeding them water?”
Zavala, 32, used to sell pet
food products and has been learning more about the business through his start-up. Initially he called his product a “snack beverage”. If he had not changed it to cat
wines, he said, “it wouldn’t have gone viral”.
He named his business for his cat, Apollo, and for the mountains of Denver.
Organic beets from California provide the colouring. The catnip comes from the higher elevations of Colorado. His small wine
bottles are sold online and in 200 stores, including T. J. Maxx and Marshalls. Zavala imbues his products with sayings like “Making Cats Great Again” and #whydrinkalone.
wines are the latest manifestation of a growing trend of pet
owners treating them like people.
Over the past 15 years, “the pet
market has been transformed by humanisation of pets”, said David Sprinkle, the research director at marketresearch.com. A survey his organisation conducted last year found that 62 per cent of cat
owners (and 64 per cent of dog owners) consider their pet
to be part of the family.
“The term ‘pet
parent’ has increasingly replaced ‘pet
owner’,” Sprinkle said. Cat
products and supplies make up 30 per cent of the $40-billion United States pet
market, excluding services, he said.
© 2017 New York Times News Service