Heinz will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Morris the Cat next year. The star of the 9 Lives commercials is actually Morris II. The first cat, saved moments before he was to be killed in an animal shelter, died in 1977 at age 17. The current 9-year-old orange-striped tabby was also adopted from a shelter. He is about a foot tall, weighs 14 pounds and is 19 inches long. Believed to be a Leo, the amber-eyed feline is single and, according to his publicist, "has no romantic attachment at the present time."
Edward Lowe Industries of Indianapolis is the undisputed king of kitty litter. The company's founder, Ed Lowe of Cassopolis, Mich., invented the business 40 years ago and owns the Kitty Litter name. That brand, along with Tidy Cat 3, gives Lowe about a third of the market.
The product is a special clay mined from certain areas of the country. Cats Pride and Fresh Step comes from clay mined by Oil-Dri Corp. in Ochlocknee, Ga. Johnny Cat, made by Excel-Mineral Co. of Goleta, Calif., is mined in the California mountains. Excel holds about 10% of the national market and about 43% of the Western market.
There really are too many cats in the world, according to local humane societies that highly recommend birth control. The growing popularity of cats as pets hasn't had much effect on the problem of abandoned cats. Earl Cubrda, executive director of the Los Angeles SPCA, said the number of cats brought into the shelter so far this year has grown to 3,100 from 2,900 last year. More worrisome, he said, is that there is a growing population of abandoned cats that have become wild. Those cats are breeding, he said, with estimates of some 4,800 in the group's 19-city jurisdiction, compared to 4,500 last year.