We might not even be at Halloween yet, but the thoughts of the world’s biggest retail giants are already turning to that most consistent money-spinner of all- Christmas. Every year seems to bring a fresh line up of festive “essentials” to the shelves, all designed to make the holidays go with a bang and bring a smile to the faces of shop owners throughout the land. This year’s must-have essential? An advent calendar for cats. Building on the success of last year’s dog advent calendar, Trader Joe’s have announced plans to release a special version just for felines. In case you missed the memo, the announcement came during the seventeenth episode of the grocery chain’s podcast, Inside Trader Joe’s, featuring host Tara Miller, Matt Sloan (vice president of product marketing), and special guest, Colin Fields (Vice President of Merchandising). We’re sure you’re all avid listeners, but on the off chance you’ve not tuned in before, the podcast is essentially an opportunity for “insiders” at Trader Joe’s to give listeners the low down on what’s going on at the store that week. It’s exciting stuff at the best of times, but the September 16th edition was particularly enthralling thanks to its description of all the new products due to hit the shelves over the coming few weeks. Of all the upcoming launches, the new kitty calendar is unquestionably the highlight… at least if the enthusiasm of the show’s panelists is anything to go by.
“Last year we came out with the dog Advent calendar (Salmon and Sweet Potato Dog Treats), which seemed a pretty odd idea until we got out in the stores and there turned out to be quite a following for it,” said Vice President of Merchandising Colin Fields. “And we heard from our feline-loving customers that we should have something for their cats…. so, we found it, we developed it, and it’s pretty cool.” Pretty cool indeed, especially when you learn what’s behind each festive window on the calendar. While the dog variety may have been full of meaty treats, cats will be delighted to know the main ingredient in their “magical treats” is seaweed. Yep, because we all know how much cats love a good nosh on some delicious seaweed (although, in fairness, it turns out they kind of do… plus, it’s apparently full of all kinds of health-giving benefits we’re sure they’ll be delighted to learn about). Along with the seaweed, the treats are jam-packed with the much more cat friendly-sounding salmon- guaranteed to go down a treat, even if the seaweed does raise the odd whisker or two.
If your household runs to pets of both the feline and the canine variety, don’t worry too much about sparking any jealously… the doggy calendar that generated such a buzz last year is expected to be available again this festive season and is sure to be just as well-received second time around. Packed with 24 days’ worth of sweet potato and salmon treats (the salmon is, of course, raised without the use of antibiotics in the rivers of northern Scotland, while the sweet potato is “smoked over natural hardwood” to create (and we quote) “ a treat that dogs go crazy for”), the cute as a button calendar was one of last year’s biggest sellers.. and as we all know, Trader Joe’s is a sucker for bringing back fan favorites. Which isn’t to say it isn’t up for creating some brand-new favorites along the way. According to the Podcast, the cat calendar isn’t the only new product we can expect to fall in love with this festive season- and fortunately, the other products are designed for gourmets of the two-legged variety. The Chocolate Lava Gnocchi sounds a positive dream, while the Kung Pao Chicken Mochi Balls are sure to satisfy lovers of that addictive sweet/ savory magic combo. An Organic Chickpea and Lentil Rizon and s $4.99 Impossible Burger competitor complete the lineup of new additions you can expect to see hitting the stores in November.
Leaving the delectable human treats aside and retuning to kitty centric delights for a moment, you’ll be happy to know you can still get a piece of the pie even if you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s outlet. The retailer is far from the only one capitalizing on the cat dollar, as Town & Country outlines in no uncertain terms. For cat lovers, the chance to treat your pet to a festive calendar is almost endless, with everyone from Wilko to Lily’s Kitchen getting in on the action. Wilko’s calendar (which comes in at a very reasonable $2.62) is filled with 24 celebratory catnip treats. Battersea Dog and Cat’s Home version, meanwhile, contains 2 dozen delicious nibbles packed with healthy nutrients along with vitamins A and D3. Lily’s Kitchen have created a version with human-grade quality cat food (so feel free to tuck in even if your cats doesn’t); Rosewood has made both a special variety for senior cats that comes with soft treats for sensitive mouths, and a “deluxe” edition priced at $7.50 with real turkey, chicken, duck, or salmon; Trixie is another brand cashing in on the senior market, while Hatchwell’s yogurt treats are designed with the sweet-toothed feline in mind.
While they may all sound delicious, you may be better of sticking with the chocolates in your own calendar than stealing a few of your cat’s treats… at least if VP Matt Sloan’s reaction to the Trader Joe’s version is anything to go by. “You know what? That’s not good,” he complained after sampling one of the treats (although he was quick to qualify his reaction with the fairly obvious “But I’m not a cat.”). Field was also quick to reassure listeners with, “But if you’re a cat, you’ll really like that. And after eating 24 of them, your twenty-fifth one will be a gigantic one, shaped like a fish.” Guess there’s only one way to find out for sure…