1920 : Ed Lowe Born, Creator of Kitty Litter/Tidy Cat

July 10, 2018 all-day

Tidy Cat Box

Ed Lowe was born July 10, 1920 in St. Paul, Minnesota to Lulu and Henry E. Lowe. His family later moved near Cassopolis, Michigan, where Ed spent his youth before serving in the U.S. Navy from 1941 to 1945. After his Navy duty, Ed joined his father’s company in Cassopolis, which sold industrial absorbents, including sawdust and an absorbent clay called Fuller’s Earth. One day in 1947, Ed was approached by a neighbor who was tired of using ashes in her cat’s box and dealing with sooty paw prints.

She asked for some sand, and Ed suggested clay instead. Soon the neighbor would use nothing else, noting that the clay was much more absorbent than sand and didn’t track all over the house. Ed had a hunch that other cat owners would love his new cat box filler, too, so he filled 10 brown bags with clay, wrote the name “Kitty Litter” on them, and called on the local pet store. With sand available for next-to-nothing, the shop owner doubted anyone would pay 65 cents for a five-pound bag of Kitty Litter Brand. “So give it away,” Ed told him. Soon customers were asking for more–and were quite willing to pay for it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Kitty in Cat Box

Ed started visiting cat shows, where he cleaned hundreds of cat boxes each day in exchange for a booth to display his new product. Crossing the country and visiting local pet shops, Ed continued to sell Kitty Litter Brand from the back of his 1943 Chevy Coupe. Cat owners all over America soon fell in love with this product’s odor control and absorbency.

In 1964, Lowe created Tidy Cat brand and it was sold in grocery stores. Ed’s devotion to customer service and satisfaction has never changed since that day in 1947, when he offered help to a neighbor. Every bag of Ed’s cat box filler contained a personal money-back promise of satisfaction. He firmly believed that’s the only way to do business.

In 1990, prior to the divestiture of its clay mining and consumer product businesses, Edward Lowe Industries, Inc. was the nation’s largest producer of cat box filler with retail sales of more than $210 million annually. His product, once sold in simple brown paper bags, had improved too–thanks to Ed’s innovative approach to business. Kitty Litter Brand, which was 99 percent dust free, was sanitized with Healthguard and provided a better environment for cats and their owners by controlling growth of odor-causing bacteria.

Quality has always been a priority with Ed, and his products set the standards for the industry. Edward Lowe Industries was the only company of its kind with complete innovation and product development centers. Company scientists at a modern Research and Development Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, continually worked to upgrade existing products and spawn new ones. There was even a “cattery” at Big Rock Valley which was home to 120 felines who “worked” to assist in the development of new products. The Cattery also boasted a fully staffed cat care clinic, as well as an animal behavior facility which permitted 24-hour television monitoring of resident cats.

Source : Ed Lowe Biography from the Great Ideas Finder.

For another, see Paul Ford, “The Birth of Kitty Litter”, Bloomberg News, December 4, 2014.

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