Tag Archives: Cat Supply Retailers

Goodbye Drs. Foster And Smith

Drs. Foster and Smith’s website is gone but not forgotten.

 

Is this cat napping on an old Drs. Foster and Smith catalog?

Is this cat napping on an old Drs. Foster and Smith catalog?

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’

Chewy’s New Call Center Opens With 1,000 ‘Kind’ Customer Service Reps

Looking for someone to talk to in the middle of the night. If the topic is cat food, try giving Chewy's new call center a ring.

Looking for someone to talk to in the middle of the night? If the topic is cat food, you could give Chewy.com a ring. Chewy’s new call center opened last month in Hollywood, Fla. with 1,000 “kind” people poised to deliver 24/7 customer service, 365 days a year.

Four hundred more customer service reps are in the process of joining the team now.

Even more than selection and price, it’s customer service that makes Chewy a different breed of retailer. Customer service reps answer phone calls within two rings and respond to emails within half an hour. The retailer sends handwritten Christmas cards to customers and flowers and sympathy cards to Chewy shoppers who have lost their animal companions.

Not happy with your order? The customer service rep might send you a replacement and tell you to donate the one you already have to a local shelter.

Chewy’s New Call Center: Working In A Sea Of Cubicle

The company aims to hire people who are “kind,” goal-driven and love to talk and engage customers. They work in a 100,000-square-feet space that, from the pictures, looks like a sea of cubicles.

Chewy’s new call center used to be home to a Sears and Woolworth’s. If you hear a dog barking in the background when you call, that’s because employees are allowed to bring their small animal companions to work.

But The First Idea Was Hardly Chewy

Chewy founders Ryan Cohen and Michael Day met online. Their first venture was a website where they sold jewelry. They were at a trade show when they realized they had no passion for an industry they knew very little about.

But Cohen did have a passion — his teacup poodle. He’s one of those people who thinks of himself as a pet parent, not a pet owner. It occurred to him that there are lots of people like him, and they’ll spare no expense to keep their four-legged family members healthy and happy. 

Chew On This 

Cohen and Day started Chewy.com in 2011. Last year, they sold the company to PetSmart for $3.35 billion, the largest e-commerce acquisition in history.
Soon after the acquisition, several cat food manufacturers stopped making their brands available on Chewy.com. But the shoppers just keep coming, maybe because of the customer service from what Chewy calls the Wow Team.

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New! Your Cats Can Catch Some Bargains With Amazon Pet Profiles

Your cat can now earn discount and coupons with Amazon Pet Profiles.

Maybe your cats can’t do their own shopping on Amazon… yet. But they can receive their own “purrsonalized”  recommendations and coupons with Amazon Pet Profiles.

The Amazon Pet Profiles are new and could give the retailer an even larger share of the online pet supply market.

According to the most recent American Pet Product Association’s National Pet Owners Survey, Amazon had the lion’s share of online pet supply shoppers with 54 percent. Chewy.com, the retailer I thought was everybody’s favorite, was far behind Amazon, Petsmart.com and Walmart.com with just 18 percent.


How To Do Amazon Pet Profiles

 Your cats can catch some bargains on Amazon if you choose Pet Supplies on Amazon’s list of departments. Then click on Pet Profile in the second horizontal menu.

My cat, Belle, and I just did this, and she was disappointed in the coupons. She eats only wet food, but all the food coupons were for dry. And she thought the one toy that came with a coupon looked boring. She was really hoping for a coupon for a Yeowww Catnip toy or maybe a tub of super potent silvervine. But there weren’t any of those.

Most of the suggestions were based on my past purchases (Belle doesn’t have any past purchases of her own because she doesn’t shop on Amazon).

I live with more cats who want their own Amazon Pet Profiles. What they’re hunting for is catnip coupons. We could use lots of those.


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Time, Inc. Starts PetHero Subscription Program & Goes To The Dogs (And Cats)

Time, Inc. starts subscription program & goes to the dogs (and cats)

Time, Inc. has a treat for your cat, and it’s not a magazine to curl up on while you’re trying to read.

In a departure from its usual business, the company recently launched PetHero, a paid subscription program that offers discounts and other benefits to people on the prowl for lower cat care costs.

While at first glance PetHero and Time may look like a mismatch, the media company is thinking its new venture could be a “purrfect” fit. When it dug through its consumer data, what jumped out was the number of people (about 100 million!) the company reaches who live with cats and dogs.

“PetHero was created to make it easier, more fun and more affordable for families to keep their pets happy and healthy,” executive vice president of consumer marketing and revenue Leslie Dukker Doty told Business Wire.

PetHero offers a 25 percent discount on vet bills; a lost pet concierge service to help recover lost companion animals; discounts on prescriptions, food and supplies and seasonal pet boxes filled with toys, treats and accessories. Of course, most cats would be happy to have just the empty box.

Membership in PetHero is $20 a month for one cat or dog. Add $5 a month for each additional animal.

Blue Buffalo Trades Some Snob Appeal For A New Breed Of Buyers

Next time you’re at Kroeger, Publix, Meijer or Target, don’t be surprised if you see Blue Buffalo in the pet food aisle. The company recently joined the stampede of other premium cat supply manufacturers to the mass market.

For me, Blue lost some of its panache when it starting showing up at PetCo and Petsmart. They’ve always felt like the mass market to me. But now, Blue is stepping down another rung to make its entry-level Life Protection Formula available to a whole new group of shoppers at Target and the supermarkets.

There could be a good reason for this. According to the Packaged Facts blog, Blue acknowledges that its pet supply superstore sales have slowed as more and more people shop for cat food online.

Joining The Superpremium Herd


Iams and Newman’s Own cat food have been available in supermarkets for years. So have The World’s Best Cat Litter and Swheat Scoop. But as pet supply superstore sales decline, other high-end products have joined them on the supermarket shelves.

Among them: Purina Beyond, I and Love and You, Rachel Ray Nutrish and Crave.

Just The Crumbs

In a letter to independent retailers, Modestino Mele, Blue’s senior vice president of North American sales, said the move to mass retailers is part of the company’s go-to-market strategy. But it turns out that only the crumbs will be going to the mass market.

Just Blue’s entry-level Life Protection Formula will be available at the supermarkets. Shoppers will find smaller bag sizes, and more mainstream ingredients, wet food and treats. Blue’s other product lines — Wilderness, Basics, Freedom and Earth’s Essentials — will still be available only at pet specialty stores.

It’s What’s In The Cat Food Can That Counts

Wherever you shop, check the ingredients in your cat’s food before you buy. Even the superpremium foods might contain ingredients you don’t want your cat to eat. For instance, some Beyond wet food flavors contain potato starch, and others contain sweet potatoes or wild rice. And for some reason, I and Love and You adds things like cranberries, carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes to some of its wet food flavors. 
Cats are obligate carnivores and need protein from animal sources. What they don’t need are fruits and veggies. 
I’m the first to admit that I’m a cat food snob. I prefer to give my cats wet food that contains just the protein sources named on the can. But if I’m going to feed something that contains a hodgepodge of stuff, we’ll probably stay with Fancy Feast Classics. At least they’re all meat, with no extras added in. And these species-appropriate foods cost a lot less than the superpremium brands. That matters when you’re feeding six cats! 

Chewy.com – PetSmart Comes; Cat Food Vendors Go

Orijen dry cat food is no longer available on Chewy.com

Looking online for Orijen or Acana cat food? Tell your mouse to skip past Chewy.com. Champion Petfoods, the manufacturer of both brands, is leaving Chewy, citing its acquisition by PetSmart.

Other companies to part ways with the online retailer since the PetSmart acquisition are Fromm Family Foods and Tuffy’s Pet Foods, the makers of Pure Vita and other brands.

In a note to customers on its Facebook page, Fromm says it’s a “fifth generation family owned-and-operated company with a long history of selling our products exclusively to independent pet retailers.

“We believe our products are best sold by retailers who know our product and can offer pet parents what’s right for their specific dog or cat,” the note adds. “As a result of Chewy’s sale to PetSmart, they are no longer an authorized retailer of Fromm Products.”


Champion takes its support of independent retailers a step further by pointing out on its website that PetSmart (add Chewy here), Amazon, Walmart (which owns Jet.com) and eBay are not authorized Orijen or Acana dealers.

But while the websites themselves are not authorized dealers, many of the cat products available on Amazon, Jet.com and, of course, eBay are sold by independent retailers.


Supporting Brick And Mortar Stores?

It seems that independent retailer can mean different things to different people. Despite its size and predatory pricing practices, Fromm, Champion and Tuffy’s considered Chewy an independent retailer until it was acquired by PetSmart. Pet Valu is a large company with brick and mortar stores, but are it franchisees independent retailers?
In it’s blog, Tuffy’s makes no bones about nudging consumers towards locally owned brick and mortar pet supply stores, where you’ll find in-store promotions, free samples and sales associates with in-depth product knowledge. Some offer delivery services, Tuffy’s blog points out, and some have their own e-commerce websites. 
But most don’t. And for many of us, the convenience of shopping online and not having to drag heavy bags full of cat food into the house are more important than all the in-store promotions and coupons in the world.
So while some vendors may be going, I don’t see Chewy’s customers (I’m not one of them) leaving anytime soon. It’s just too easy to let your mouse do the walking and the FedEx driver do the heavy lifting. 
That said, when our local independent retailers offer online shopping and affordable shipping, I’ll be right there. 

Class Action Lawyers See Something Fishy In Prescription Cat Food

Your cat may demand a crystal dish, but she won't want it filled with prescription food.

Class action attorney Mike McGlamry always thought there was something fishy about prescription cat food.

Although you can buy it only from a vet, and it costs a lot more than nonprescription food, some of those nonprescription foods available at pet supply stores seem to have the exact same ingredients.

McGlamry and lawyers in California, North Carolina and Minnesota have filed a class action antitrust complaint in the US District Court for the Northern District of California alleging that prescription pet food is no more than a marketing scheme designed to boost profits.

Prescription Cat Food – One Big Corporate Family


Defendants in the complaint are names you’re sure to recognize: Mars PetCare, Nestle Purina and Hills Pet Nutrition. PetSmart, the nation’s largest pet food retailer, Banfield Pet Hospitals and Blue Pearl emergency and specialty hospitals are also named in the complaint.

Mars PetCare owns the Royal Canin brand and Banfield Pet Hospitals. It also has an ownership stake in Blue Pearl and has plans to acquire VCA later this year. VCA owns animal hospitals, Antech Diagnostics; Sound, a global imaging company; and Camp Bow Wow, dog daycare and boarding facilities.

What’s In That Prescription Cat Food?

Prescription cat food is formulated to address specific conditions, like obesity, kidney disease, diabetes, urinary tract issues, food sensitivities and even hyperthyroidism. The food contains no medicine; it’s the ingredients that are said to be therapeutic. It all comes with the admonishment that the cat has to stay on it for life.

But most prescription foods contain inferior ingredients. And cats, who are notoriously careful eaters, often recognize a bad product when they see it and refuse to eat it. The hunger strike could go on indefinitely, or until “Mom” caves and buys something else.

The cost of the food, along with the stress of trying to get cats to eat something they don’t like can become a real burden for loving humans who are just trying to do what the doctor ordered.

Alternatives To Prescription Cat Food

For most cats, there are alternatives to prescription food that are less expensive and more likely to pass the taste test. For instance, many obese cats will lose weight on an all-wet-food diet, and an all-wet-food diet will help control a diabetic cat’s blood glucose levels.

Several manufacturers make food with novel protein sources, so cats with food sensitivities have no need for prescription diets.

If you have a cat with a medical condition that could benefit from a special diet, talk to your vet about alternatives to prescription cat food. And if there’s no help there, join a disease-specific email list. List members can recommend food that will help your cat’s health while pleasing his palate… and your bank account.

SmartLabel Tells You What’s In That Cat Food

Cat With Magnifying Glass Cressida studio - Fotolia.com

If you’re one of those people who breaks out a magnifying glass so you
can read the ingredients list on your cats’ cans and bags of food, this
should be very good news.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has developed a SmartLabel that
will provide detailed information about the food you’re about to
purchase. All you have to do is scan the product’s bar code with your
phone.

More than 30 companies, including some pet food manufacturers, have
already committed to using SmartLabels on their packaging.

The Grocery
Manufacturers Association expects more than 30,000 products will have
the new labels by the end of 2017.

Scanning the labels will take you to a web page that lists ingredients
and other nutritional information, allergens and more. But the one thing
the page might not list is whether the product contains GMOs. While
many manufacturers will include information about genetically modified
ingredients, others will not until there’s a uniform national standard
for GMOs.

If you don’t feel like scanning labels with your phone, you can also
access each product’s web page on your computer. Of course, you can
always use your phone to go to the manufacturer’s website and check
ingredients while you’re in the store. That’s what I do now because I
got tired of carrying a magnifying glass around with me.

Paleo Diet For Cats

Cat Eating Raw Fish
Dreamstime.com

You’ve heard about the Paleo Diet? Now there’s one for cats!

Following the growing trend to humanize companion animals, PetSmart
plans to open specialty departments where Paleo Pet Parents can buy food
similar to their own for their cats and dogs. The Paleo Diet specialty
shops will open in 133 stores later this month. Some of the products
will also be available on PetSmart’s website.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Paleo Diet mimics the way humans ate
back in the day. That would be waaay back in the day, when we lived in
caves and rubbed sticks together to make a fire to cook our food.

Like our distant, distant ancestors, Paleo Dieters eat only grass-fed
meat, wild-caught fish and lots of veggies, fruits and nuts. ​Cavemen
(and women) didn’t eat grains, sugar and processed foods, and people on
the Paleo Diet don’t eat them either.

The desert wildcats who were our house cats’ distant ancestors lived on
lizards, rodents, small birds, and insects. Since water is hard to find
in a desert, the cats got most of the moisture they needed from their
food. Given a choice, our cats would still eat that way today, although
mine would. and do, pass on the lizards.​ ​

PetSmart’s Paleo Diet for cats and dogs is made by Only Natural Pet, ​an
independent pet supply retailer and manufacturer based in Boulder, Col.

A press release says the food is manufactured “in small, artisanal
facilities” using small-batch production processes. Ingredients include
human-quality chicken, turkey, lamb and beef, as well as sweet potatoes,
garbanzo beans, apples, cranberries, celery, pumpkin, broccoli and
cabbage.

Sounds good, but it looks like a Paleo diet designed more for people
than cats. ​ Cats need meat, not fruits and veggies. And while garbanzo
beans might be good for you, they’re probably not real useful for a cat.
​​