The Cat Litter Study

Last week on poker night, I mentioned to the guys that I had signed up for a cat litter study. I’d go to a marketing firm’s testing facility, smell and look at some cat litter, and get paid $40 for half an hour of time. Easy money.

One of the guys joked that it would be hilarious if the marketing firm made us smell used cat litter. Funny idea, but I assured him that no company would possibly make us smell cat litter with actual cat urine in it.

Well, apparently there’s one company that will.

That’s how I found myself smelling little tupperware containers of used cat litter on Thursday morning. None of them were offensive in the least, but the ones without urine definitely were easier to smell. A few thoughts:

  • I wish I had brought some cereal and munched on it while telling the woman running the study that I liked the taste of sample 14 more than 15.
  • I was the only guy in a room full of cat ladies. I should probably get used to that.
  • What if the real study had nothing to do with variations of cat litter–it was actually about what the company could get random people to smell if money was involved. I can see the sociologists behind the two-way mirror, giving each other high-fives and hugs as we put our noses in cat urine. “They did it! They really did it!”
  • Where did the cat urine come from? Obviously a cat, but whose cat? I picture a lone Siamese in a cubicle down the hall from the room where the study was held. She spends most of her time reading cat magazines and watching cat soaps, but every once in a while her supervisor drops by and says, “Yeah, Pixy? We’re going to need a sample tomorrow morning around 9:00-ish. No nip tonight, mmkay?” Oh, the life of a professional urinator.

9 thoughts on “The Cat Litter Study”

  1. Next time you should also find a study conductor after about sample number 8…unzip your pants, untuck your shirt…and exclaim, “I just don’t think I have any pee left. I’m sorry, but I think I’m going to have to drop out of this study.”

  2. As a member of the Pet Care industry, I’ll share these few statistics with you (which I just found online).

    1) The 71.4 million households with pets account for ~62% of US households. Of those, 38.2M have at least 1 cat (or 53.5% of all pet-owning homes).
    2) Pet Care is an estimated $47.7 BILLION industry. Lots of pets, lots of dollars. Pet Care Supplies & OTC medecines (all non-food items, including Litter) were ~$11.01B in 2010.

    We thank you for the opprotunity to prevent your house from smelling like excrement.

    • Did you read my entry a few weeks ago on the Pet Tweet system? After seeing these mind-boggling numbers, I really think Pet Tweets could be huge!

  3. I did see it. While the Pet Care industry is sizable, you’d have to do some interviews to see for how many people this would be appealing. I suspect that while most people love their pets, they have a lot more going on for this information to be a successful market. But I could be wrong.

  4. oooh, I’m so glad you did this! I love market research studies – how do you think I get all those free movie tickets? Did they give you any cat litter? I wonder if they employ cats for preference tests.


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