Nutrition

Smalls Cat Food Review

Wondering about switching to fresh cat food? We reviewed the subscription-based cat food company Smalls. Learn more about this cat first company, what they offer, and why they might be a great nutritional choice for your feline family members.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: January 19, 2023 | 9 min read

Smalls cat food bag with cat behind it and bowl of food

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The pet food industry is a constantly growing market, and new options are always being added. This can make it confusing and intimidating for pet owners to pick the best food for their pets. In the cat food arena, a growing number of companies offer fresh, human-grade food and top-quality nutrition for our purr babies.

One of these companies is Smalls cat food. Smalls makes fresh cat food available through subscription. They offer both fresh and freeze-dried recipes. Smalls has been around since 2017 and is proudly presented to the world by a team of “cat folks.”

We know it is challenging and not necessarily convenient or affordable to try a whole bunch of different cat foods before picking one. To help make the process easier, we have completed a review of Smalls and their cat food products. Let’s dig in and learn all there is to know about this human-grade subscription cat food service.

Key Features

  1. Fresh cat meals are made from human-grade ingredients.
  2. Species-specific nutrition.
  3. This is a feline-focused company, only cat products.
  4. Human grade USDA certified facilities.
  5. Made in the USA.
  6. Uses sustainably sourced ingredients.
  7. A growing number of options, including treats.
  8. Fresh and freeze-dried foods.
  9. Subscription delivery service.

Company History

Smalls was founded in 2017 by two cat-inspired entrepreneurs from New York. These two friends and cat enthusiasts aimed to improve the world of feline nutrition. They understood that the pet food industry was structured primarily around canine nutritional needs and offered very few high-quality, biology-based options for felines. Hoping to close the gap and provide cats with the same plethora of high-quality, fresh nutrition options, they created an exclusive subscription-only meal plan tailored to meet each cat’s needs. The owners started by cooking the first batches in their own kitchens. They would then hand deliver the cat food to their friends around New York City. Eventually, the brand grew large enough to move to a commercial kitchen with professional cooks. Now they serve cats all over the country.

One thing that makes Smalls stand out from other companies on the market is that they specifically focus on high-quality cat nutrition. Most other companies that offer fresh, human-grade pet meals started by creating dog food first and then offering feline food later. Smalls has always been about cats and their nutrition, from the very first test batch cooked in that tiny kitchen.

Smalls continues to introduce new recipes based on the feedback they receive from customers. All food options are made with high nutritional and unprocessed ingredients. They aim to provide cats with the top-quality nutrition they need while offering a more convenient option than the pet store. Meals are shipped directly to customers. The company makes fresh meals and freeze-dried kibble. The cost varies depending on a kitty’s specific needs, and subscriptions range from about $90 to $150 a month.

Recipes are developed with the help of a pet nutrition expert named Dr. Susan Lauten, Ph.D. Recipes are always formulated to meet AAFCO guidelines. Ingredients are human-grade and sustainably sourced from both the United States and Canada.

Where Is It Made?

All manufacturing happens right here in the United States. Kibble is made in Brainerd, Minnesota. Fresh, wet meals are cooked in Chicago, Illinois, and freeze-dried products are made in Green Bay, Wisconsin. All ingredients are USDA certified and cooked in human-grade kitchens.

Recalls & Lawsuits

Recalls happen for different reasons. Smalls has had two recalls in its history. The first was in March 2019 and involved chicken liver powder, sold as Diamond Dust. This product was reported by a customer concerned that the product contained cocoa powder. The product was recalled and tested. Testing found the powder to have been altered, but what that alteration was, was not released. They found that the product was affected for about five months, from October 2018 to March 2019.

The company recalled the affected product and required their supplier to upgrade safety measures, though they did not change suppliers. Additionally, they worked to enhance manufacturing and packaging safety measures, including adding an airtight seal to the Diamond Dust shaker bottle and increasing product testing.

The second recall occurred in June 2021. This was a limited recall issued voluntarily after customer concerns about products being spoiled due to smelling and looking odd. The company investigated their refrigeration and storage and had products sent to an independent lab for testing. They communicated this with customers and replaced affected products. The recall impacted only four products:

  1. Ground Bird, Chicken Recipe
  2. Smooth Bird, Chicken Recipe
  3. Ground Other Bird, Turkey Recipe
  4. Smooth Other Bird, Turkey Recipe

There were no reports of any illness associated with this recall. The company has not had this issue again. They have never been the subject of a lawsuit or other significant customer concern issues.

How It Works

Open box of Smalls cat food sampler with treats in frozen packaging
Customers then try the sample pack and pick and choose their favorites for their next order.

Pet parents must first navigate the website and complete a questionnaire about their cat’s needs. Once owners answer questions, they are provided with a suggested product list. This includes a sampler pack to start with. This is very affordable. For three kitties, the proposed sampler box cost estimate is $32. Additionally, this package includes free Catnip N Chill Treats from Shameless Pets for life.

Subscriptions bill and ship every two weeks. This is important to remember, as it is an automatic charge and shipment. Owners will need to make sure they cancel or reschedule deliveries if required. Fresh meals ship frozen and come packed in dry ice.

Owners should remember that although they enter information about each specific cat, Smalls does not offer pre-portioned meals or customizable recipes. Additionally, customers can only change products once they have purchased the suggested sampler pack. Once they have the sampler order, they can choose what they want to be included in their subscription box.

Is Smalls Cat Food Raw?

Fresh recipes are steam-cooked and freshly frozen. Freeze-dried takes raw proteins and removes the water through the freeze-drying process, retaining top taste and nutritional value.

Smalls Cat Food Ingredients

Smalls uses all human-grade, ethically sourced ingredients. This means that every single ingredient in these meals is safe for human consumption. Recipes are very high in animal meat protein. Chicken options contain 86% chicken (including organs), about 85% beef (including organs), and even the fish recipe is 81% fish. Recipes are very low in fiber, making them easy to digest.

Proteins

Smalls uses natural meat proteins, including chicken, chicken thighs, chicken breast, chicken liver, duck, turkey thighs, 90% lean beef, beef liver, beef hearts, cod, whitefish, and salmon among their proteins.

Vegetables

Fresh vegetables are part of each recipe. These include pumpkin, peas, green beans, kale, and spinach.

Other Ingredients

Other ingredients include nutritional yeast, canola oil, cod liver oil, taurine, dried parsley, folic acid, and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Smalls Recipes

The company has three product lines at this time. These include human-grade fresh food, freeze-dried, and treats which include giblet niblets and bird broth.

Smalls Human Grade Fresh Cat Food

Currently, Smalls offers nine different varieties of fresh meals. They offer four proteins: chicken, turkey, beef, and fish. They come in three textures offering kitties much sought-after variety. These are ground, smooth, and pulled.

Fresh options are:

  1. Smooth Cow
  2. Smooth Fish
  3. Ground Bird
  4. Other Bird
  5. Smooth Bird
  6. Pulled Bird
  7. Ground Other Bird (Turkey)
  8. Smooth Other Bird (Turkey)
  9. Pulled Other Bird (Turkey

Fresh Smooth Cow

Smalls Cat Food Fresh Smooth Cow
  • Beef
  • Beef liver.
  • Green beans.
  • Water.
  • Crude protein 16.5%.
  • Crude fat 12%.
  • Crude fiber 1.5%.
  • 4.1 oz = 200 calories
VISIT SMALLS.COM

Fresh Smooth Fish

  • Cod.
  • Salmon.
  • Pumpkin, peas, green beans.
  • Crude protein 14.5%
  • Crude fat 7%.
  • Crude fiber 1.5%.
  • 5.5 oz = 200 calories.
VISIT SMALLS.COM

Fresh Ground Bird

  • Chicken.
  • Chicken liver.
  • Green beans, peas, kale.
  • Crude protein 15.5%.
  • Crude fat 8.5%.
  • Crude fiber 1.5%.
  • 5 oz = 200 calories.
VISIT SMALLS.COM

Freeze Dried Food

This dry kibble alternative dehydrates raw meat and ground bone through a freeze-drying process. Freeze-dried foods are incredibly high in protein. Animal protein is often the main or only ingredient. Currently, Smalls offers three flavors of freeze-dried cat chow:

  1. Bird
  2. Other Bird
  3. Water Bird (Duck)

Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey

  • Fresh ground turkey with bone.
  • Turkey heart, liver, and gizzard.
  • Goat milk.
  • Turkey egg.
  • Herring oil.
  • Crude protein 49%.
  • Crude fat 17%.
  • Crude fiber 3%.
VISIT SMALLS.COM

Treats

The company offers two options for treats. These include Bird Broth and Giblet Niblets. Bird broth is a chicken broth that is a tasty topper for meals or served as a standalone treat. The Giblet Niblets are single protein, single ingredient, bite-sized freeze-dried chicken giblets.

Bird Broth

  • Chicken bone broth.
  • Supplement, snack, or addition to food.
  • 2.31% protein.
  • 0.10% fat
  • 0.20% fiber.
VISIT SMALLS.COM

Giblet Niblets

Smalls Cat Food Giblet Niblets
  • Single protein.
  • Single-ingredient.
  • Bite-sized.
  • Freeze-dried chicken giblets.
  • Simple, healthy, and delicious.
VISIT SMALLS.COM

Is Smalls Cat Food Good?

Yes, this food is very good. There are several things we like. We appreciate that they solely focus on healthy cat nutrition. This is and always has been developed especially for felines. Many other companies add cats as an afterthought, and we love that the company commits 100% to feline nutrition.

We appreciate the high-quality, human-grade ingredients. Additionally, we like that all products are made in specific facilities within the United States. Each facility produces its own unique product.

Using human-grade ingredients provides felines with the best possible nutrition. The ingredients are all sustainably sourced and are of very high quality. This means our purr babies are getting great nutrition.

We also appreciate the convenience that Smalls offers. Having meals delivered right to your door takes much of the stress and hassle pet owners face trying to find good quality foods on the pet store shelf. This is a great option for cats that have food allergies or breed with digestive sensitivities like the Sphynx.

Overall, this is a top-quality, great choice for feline nutrition. With their expanding product lines, owners have more options to choose from. We appreciate that they are now offering treats to go along with their fresh and freeze-dried meals. Subscriptions are customizable in that owners can pick and choose what meals and treats they want in their subscriptions. Subscriptions are not restrictive, so owners can get a different product if something is not working out.

How Does Smalls Compare?

When it comes to human-grade feline meals, Smalls is one of the best on the market. They are not the only player in the fresh cat food arena but are one of the few that explicitly focus on cats. A fresh diet is one of the most, if not the most, expensive options when it comes to feline nutrition. This option is affordable, but costs vary depending on your specific subscription and the number of animals eating.

Nutritionally speaking, this is a wonderful choice for your kitty. It is suitable for all breeds and all ages. Additionally, the company is constantly working to improve its products and offer new cat options.

Customer reviews for this company are glowing. Purr babies love the taste. Additionally, owners report that after their feline friends have transitioned, they have better gut health, more energy, and glossier coats. Another benefit some owners report is that it has dramatically improved their cat’s breath and helped regulate their pet’s bowels. This includes better-smelling poops, which every feline owner is happy to hear.

How Much Is Smalls Cat Food? Is it Worth The Price?

If you can afford it, Smalls is well worth the price. Though it is more expensive than retail brands, the nutritional quality and benefits felines get from this option are far superior. If money were not a concern, every feline owner would pick fresh or freeze-dried diets for their pets. This company offers a convenient subscription that owners can customize to meet their needs. Though it is not feasible for everyone, for those that can afford it, this option is well worth the expense.

Costs vary. A sample pack costs around $30. After that, the price depends on the specific products picked and add-ons like treats. Exact costs vary depending on the type of food, quantity, and how often it is delivered. We have calculated a minimum monthly estimate below. Shipping and taxes are not part of the listed price.

  • Fresh can cost $110 per month at minimum.
  • Dry & Fresh $125 to $150 includes fresh meals and kibble.
  • Freeze-Dried, only about $75 to $150 per month.

Pros & Cons Chart

ProsCons
Complete nutritionSubscription only
Variety Ships only to continental US states
Recyclable packagingHas had two recalls
Resealable pouchesCan be expensive
High moisture contentNot feasible for all
Delicious flavorCannot see all products unless you sign up
Simple recipesSome complaints about customer service
Human-grade ingredientsNo customizable recipes
USDA certified human quality kitchensNot pre-portioned servings
Species appropriate nutrition
All ages and life stages
For all breeds
Cat first company
Treat and meal choices
Convenient delivery

Personal Experience With Smalls

two cats eating smalls cat food from a plate in front of the smalls shipping bo
This has proven to be an effective mix, and the cat is very happy with his new gourmet meals.

We tried a sample pack for two cats. Smalls sent a wide variety of food, which was delivered to the door in a well-packed box. The box contained dry ice and a frozen gel pack, which kept all products frozen solid. This food was tried with two cats, both aged about 10 years.

My cats took to the Freeze-Dried Raw Bird right away. In fact, they like it so much that I have to hide it, as they keep trying to get the bag open. Both cats come running immediately as soon as they hear the bag open and cannot seem to get enough of the freeze-dried morsels. This is a fast favorite.

Smalls human-grade fresh food is also proving to be a happy pairing. The cats do seem to prefer the chicken and beef recipes. They are eager at mealtimes and finish almost all the food. I have noticed a significant improvement in their litter box odor just after a week of being on the new food. Both cats seem very satisfied after mealtimes and are full of energy.

Additionally, the tote bag that comes with the package is great. The cats also appreciate the cat nip toys which accompanied the food. Overall, they are very satisfied with the new food, are eager to eat, full of energy, and are likely to do well with this food. We also mix a little in with some dry kibble, as one cat prefers dry food to wet.

Final Thoughts

Smalls is a relatively new pet nutrition company that has only been around since 2017. This homegrown company started out of a household kitchen in New York city’s East Village and has grown impressively since then. From two friends cooking and delivering tasty feline meals in their local area to a company that serves thousands of cats all around the continental United States. This company works hard to provide top-quality, species-specific nutrition just for cats. We love that this company started in someone’s kitchen and focuses only on cat products. Their products are quite tasty. Cats enjoy the flavor and reap many physical benefits from eating meals of this quality. We also appreciate that a pet nutrition expert is a part of creating every recipe. All in all, Smalls is a wonderful choice for your sweet kitty.

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