Many cat owners have come off as foolish when claiming they know what their kitties desire. But litigation is usually avoided.
That's not the case with Oakland-based Clorox, maker of Fresh Step kitty litter. Commercials in which the company implied that cats actually prefer their product, which was allegedly superior to a competing Arm & Hammer line of litter, spurred a class-action lawsuit.
This gets better: An experiment cooked up by the plaintiffs in order to disprove Clorox's claims of odor superiority involved a "10-day sensory study involving a panel of persons trained in odor evaluation." Yes, professional cat-shit-sniffers were employed -- a whole panel of them. And they found, in a study commissioned by Clorox's competitor, Church & Dwight, that Clorox actually reeked worse than the product made by the people signing the checks. Another study by C&D revealed that cats don't seem to demonstrate a preference for carbon- or baking soda-based litter.
How ya like them (road) apples?
San Francisco District Court Judge Samuel Conti -- who must have been wondering how his career path led to a case involving the olfactory attributes of soiled kitty litter (with experts to weigh in, no less) -- last week ruled largely in favor of Clorox. But not entirely.
Clorox's representation that "Fresh Step . . . is better at eliminating litter box odors than Arm & Hammer Super Scoop" is likely to be considered a statement of fact by a reasonable consumer. Contrary to Clorox's argument, the statement is neither "vague" nor "highly subjective." Clorox identifies both a point of comparison -- Arm & Hammer Super Scoop -- and a metric for comparison -- elimination of cat odors.The judge allowed the plaintiffs 30 days to append and refile their claim. Perhaps, in that time, they can scare up some more cat-shit-sniffing experts and bolster their case.
Further, the beaker comparison depicted in the Second Commercials gives the impression that this representation is based on the results of a scientific study. Clorox's apparent representation that this beaker test is "[b]ased on [a] sensory lab test" furthers this impression.