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An oasis for pets

A dog's life _ or a cat's, for that matter _ might not be so bad after all. They even have their own gourmet water.

The Original Pet Drink Co., based in Fort Lauderdale, offers two brands of its gourmet pet drink, called Thirsty Dog! and Thirsty Cat! They are advertised, respectively, to contain "crispy beef flavor" and "tangy fish flavor."

Original Pet Drink says the beverages are made of triple-filtered water and contain vitamins and minerals pets do not get from ordinary tap water.

The drinks, offered in 33 states, went on sale about two months ago in supermarkets and pet stores. In Florida, statewide distribution began last week at stores that sell pet products, said Paul Kirkman of Southern Original Pet Drink Co., the marketing and sales division of the Original Pet Drink Co.

A liter costs $1.79 to $1.99, said Alan Canfield Jr., sales manager for A.J. Canfield Co., a Chicago-based bottler and manufacturer.

Canfield said that his bottler has sold more than 10,000 cases since the water was introduced nearly two months ago. He said about three times that amount has been sold nationally.

"We're outselling our best expectation," said Canfield, who added that he has personally tasted both beverages. The verdict?

"They're never going to outsell Coke or Pepsi," he said.

An animal world

Americans think pets are the cat's meow.

More than half of all U.S. households, about 53-million of them, own dogs, cats, fish or other animals. Another 22-million households have had a pet at one time, but not currently.

That's according to a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. The trade group says dogs are people's best friends, but smaller animals like hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs are gaining in popularity.

For dog, cat and bird owners, companionship and love are the most important benefits of ownership, while those with fish, small animals and reptiles say their pets are "easy to care for . . . (and) fun to watch."

A delicate touch

A new toilet paper is being touted as the first brand not to disintegrate when it gets wet.

But Quilted Northern Wet or Dry "still has the softness and comfort people expect from a premium toilet paper," said Tony Morakis of James River Corp.'s consumer products office in Norwalk, Conn.

James River has launched sales of the product with a $5.5-million advertising campaign.

The company plans to use its trademark "Northern Girl" on the new item, but dress her in a slicker and a rain coat, Morakis said.

The new tissue comes in six-roll packs with a suggested retail price of $1.79 to $1.99, about 10 percent more than the price on regular Quilted Northern.

The paper products company sells more than $2-billion worth of tissue and towels in the United States and Europe each year.

Quilted Northern is the second-best-selling brand of toilet paper, trailing Procter & Gamble Co.'s Charmin by 10 percent in market share.

A full-baked idea

Hoping waist-watchers won't lay off potato chips, Frito-Lay Inc. is testing a new low-fat chip and plans a nationwide rollout next year.

Baked Lay's Potato Crisps are 94 percent fat-free and have less than 2 grams of fat per ounce, compared with 10 grams of fat for regular potato chips.

It has been tested in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, since April, where Baked Lay's have represented nearly 15 percent of total Lay's chip sales.

A national launch of the chip is expected late next year in original and barbecue flavors, the company said.

The company said it now has a $450-million line of low and no-fat snacks, making up more than 10 percent of its total snack mix.

_ Compiled from reports by the Associated Press.