Back in the day, my cats and I loved finding a Drs. Foster and Smith catalog in our mailbox.
We thought there was way too much dog stuff, but we always found a few cat items to buy. Our first floor-to-ceiling cat tree came in a huge box from Drs. Foster and Smith.
That was before there was an Internet and online retailers. And more important to Drs. Foster and Smith, it was before there was a giant pet supply company called Petco.
Petco purchased Drs. Foster and Smith in 2015. It shut the company down last winter and moved its online services to Petco’s website.
Changing Times, Changing ‘Pet Parents’
“We believe this will enable us to streamline operations and better focus on our core business and customer,” the statement adds.
But as the company dumbs itself down to meet what it believes are the needs of its core customers, we’ve suddenly become “pet parents,” a term my elderly cats would find offensive and disrespectful. In cat years, some of the cats who live with me are older than I am.
Back In The Day With Drs. Foster and Smith
Veterinarians Martin Smith and Rory Foster started Drs. Foster and Smith in the early 1980s, when one of Smith’s clients asked how to give the vaccines he’d purchased from a mail order company. Seeing an opportunity, the two added a sheet of mail order medications to their existing newsletter.
By 1983, Foster’s brother, Race, had joined the business, and the three produced their first 16-page, two-color mail order catalog. The first year, the catalog generated $30,000 in sales.
Within a few years, the Drs. Foster and Smith catalog included dog, cat and horse supplies, toys and accessories in addition to the medications. It was the nation’s first full-color pet catalog.
But the catalog was always almost as much about education as selling products. In 1997, the company launched Peteducation.com, one of the best cat care sites on the web.
If you go to Peteducation.com now, you get Petco’s not-very-useful PetCoach. All the helpful articles thoughtfully written by veterinarians are gone.
When the Drs. Foster and Smith website went offline, its private label cat food became available “for the foreseeable future” on Petco.com, a Petco spokesperson said. Autoship orders and prescriptions transferred to Petco.com, and customers can use their existing credentials to log in.