One of the best things about living in the internet era is the ability to buy everything you need without ever leaving your couch (or putting on pants).
Until recently, however, it was difficult to find everything that you needed for your cat online. However, several online retailers have sprung up to make in-person trips to the store a thing of the past — and many established brick-and-mortar companies are ramping up their online presence as well.
While you have more options for buying pet supplies online than ever before, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to pick the best retailer. In the guide below, we’ll go over the top places to buy cat food and other supplies, so you can find everything your cat needs without having to leave their side.
Chewy is a relative newcomer to the pet supply business, as it’s only been around since 2011. However, it’s wasted no time in establishing itself as the most reliable and competitive pet supply store on the internet.
It has just about everything that you could need to take care of your companion animal, and its dog and cat divisions are especially robust. Recently, it’s even begun filling prescriptions as well.
Its selection is top-notch, and its prices are in line with those we’ve found anywhere else on the internet. Plus, since it has fulfillment centers all across the country, it can reliably ship you your order in two days or less. It also has extremely helpful customer service representatives ready to assist you 24/7.
It’s not perfect, of course. It rarely offers coupons of any kind, and much of its business model seems based on steering you toward subscription-based items. Also, since it only has pet supplies, it may be a tad bit less convenient than other websites on this list.
If all you care about is finding the best food and accessories for your cat, though, Chewy is hard to beat.
It’s no surprise that the biggest retailer on the internet would rank highly on this list. Until the rise of Chewy, it was our go-to for pet supplies of any kind. It’s still a great place to shop, of course; the fact that it’s been overtaken by Chewy says more about Chewy than it does about Amazon.
The best thing about Amazon is the fact that it has everything. You can find whatever you need for your cat in one place, and you can take care of your own shopping at the same time. Its prices are usually competitive too.
Since it has such a massive customer base, virtually every product will have reviews available, and Amazon does its best to police those reviews to remove frauds. Its recommendation algorithm is usually on the money as well, so you may discover all sorts of new treats for your cat by shopping there.
Amazon doesn’t sell anything directly, however; instead, it’s a marketplace for other vendors to hawk their wares. As a result, you can’t always trust whom you’re buying from, and prices for the same items can vary wildly. Many people also have moral qualms about shopping via Amazon due to its alleged mistreatment of employees.
If you ever shop on the internet, then you already know that Amazon is unavoidable. It’s also quite good — but not quite good enough to earn the top spot on this list.
Although primarily known as an in-person pet store, Petco has beefed up its online presence in recent years. Its current iteration is extremely competitive with dedicated online retailers like the previous two ones on this list.
Its website is especially good for placing orders that you plan on picking up yourself at your local branch. This allows you to enjoy all the immediate gratification that shopping in person provides, with none of the checking-out hassle.
Petco has just about everything online that it does in stores (plus a bit more), so you should have no problem finding the brands that you already know and love. Its prices are competitive with Chewy’s and Amazon’s, but it’s often a bit more expensive.
Its online business model is clearly designed to drive you into its stores, however. The site isn’t as easy to navigate as the two above, and it lacks the same number of trustworthy reviews and recommendations that our top picks offer.
Also, if you buy from Petco online, you can’t go into its stores and see all the pets that other people have brought in.
PetSmart is almost identical to Petco in many ways; in fact, your preference for one over the other may simply come down to which rewards program you’re already signed up for.
Our primary reasoning behind ranking PetSmart behind Petco comes down to the site layout. PetSmart’s design is clunky and feels antiquated, so unless you know exactly what you’re buying, you could easily get lost while shopping.
However, it offers a curbside pickup service that’s quite convenient. It allows you to order online and then drive to the store; once there, you simply call the staff there and let them know that you’re waiting, and they’ll bring the order to your car. It’s as painless as in-person shopping can possibly be.
PetSmart Has a helpful mobile app that allows you to keep all your previous orders in one place, as well as to see any discounts it offers, so shopping from your phone is often easier than shopping from a computer.
Ultimately, though, it does little to distinguish itself from the competition, right down to its good-but-not-great pricing.
It’s not nearly as well-known as the other sites on this list, but PetFlow is similar to Chewy. However, as you might expect, it can’t shine that brightly due to the enormous shadow cast by its competition.
PetFlow only offers food and accessories for dogs and cats, so you’ll need to find another retailer if you have other pets that you’re shopping for at the same time. Its offerings skew toward high-end foods, so it’s a good place to shop if your cat lives a luxurious lifestyle.
Its layout is confusing, though, so if you’re shopping for a new food for your cat, you can easily get lost. It’s also clearly designed to encourage you to buy immediately, rather than trying to educate you on your decision.
It does have an impressive selection of prescription foods, though, so it may be a worthwhile outlet to explore if your cat needs a specialty diet.
As the name suggests, OnlyNaturalPet is geared toward natural and holistic pet food options. As a result, it won’t have all the brands that you’re accustomed to, but you may find new options if you’re trying to transition your cat to a new diet.
Many of its products are also geared toward promoting environmental sustainability, which should make you feel good about your purchases.
OnlyNaturalPet is actually a division of PetSmart, which means you can potentially buy online and pick up your order in person if you live near one of the retail outlets.
All its food is on the pricey side, which you’d expect given the natural ingredients. The site is also hard to navigate and filled with pop-ups.
If you’re committed to feeding your cat natural, high-end food, then OnlyNaturalPet.com is a convenient place to shop. Otherwise, though, you’re unlikely to find what you’re looking for here.
Why Buy Your Cat Food and Accessories Online?
If you’ve always popped into the pet store every time that your kitty ran out of kibble, you may not understand why anyone would bother shopping on the internet for pet food. However, shopping online has a few advantages that buying in-person can’t match.
For one thing, it’s usually cheaper. Online retailers have less overhead to deal with, and they can pass the savings on to you.
Since they don’t have to pay for a physical location, just a few massive warehouses, online retailers can offer more brands than brick-and-mortar stores. You’ll likely find products that you never knew existed when shopping online.
It’s unbelievably convenient as well. All you have to do is fill your cart and pay for your order, and they’ll do the rest. You can either get your gear shipped directly to your house or if you buy from a website that’s attached to a physical chain, you can drive to the store and pick it up without having to fight the crowds.
All of this adds up to an incredibly budget- and time-friendly shopping experience. If you don’t like the hassle of shopping in person — with fighting traffic, finding parking, and jostling with other consumers — then buying online can take all the stress out of your shopping experience.
Are There Any Downsides to Shopping Online?
There are a few, yes. For one thing, unless you’re picking up your order in person, you lack the immediate gratification that comes with visiting a physical location. Your cat won’t get to enjoy their new food right away, and you’ll have to wait a few days to watch them play with that amazing toy you bought them.
You also lose the ability to physically inspect what you’re buying before you pay for it. If you shop online exclusively, you’ll eventually buy a toy or accessory that looked good on the internet but is actually a cheap piece of junk in real life. These incidents can be avoided if you have the opportunity to see what you’re buying beforehand.
Returning items can be a pain as well. Most retailers make it as easy as possible, but you may have to pack up your order yourself and drive it to your nearest post office or UPS/FedEx store. That’s not always the case, as sometimes you can simply print out a label and have the mail carrier pick it up directly from your house, but be prepared for the possibility that you’ll have more errands to run.
All the reviews online can be confusing as well. Many shady companies pay people to post fake reviews on websites like Amazon and Chewy; while these sites work hard to combat these practices, they’re not always successful. You can easily be led astray by what you read from other supposed customers like you.
Do Online Retailers Ever Offer Discounts?
Sometimes, yes, but they can be hard to find unless you join a variety of mailing lists.
However, we’ve recently found a deal where you can get 30% off your first order and free shipping with Chewy. It’s one of the best deals for pet food and accessories that we’ve found, but we can’t guarantee that it will last forever. To take advantage of this deal, click here.
Find the Right Online Retailer for You
For many people, shopping for cat food and accessories online is a great way to augment their in-person shopping, but they’re not ready to abandon physical pet stores just yet. That’s fine — no one says that you have to shop online for pet supplies exclusively.
If you completely ignore what the internet has to offer, though, you’ll miss out on a great deal of value for both you and your cat. The retailers listed above all have their own charms, and they can help you find products that can enrich both of your lives.
Featured Image Credit: RATT_ANARACH, Shutterstock