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The pet food industry has a dirty secret. Most of its biggest players have massively cut corners to make their products cheaper and more shelf-stable. This makes feeding your cat easy and cost-effective, but it doesn’t nourish their body or help prevent health issues as much as healthier food would.
Fortunately, that’s changing.
Smalls (formerly called “Smalls for Smalls”) is a fresh cat food delivery service that cooks wholesome, human-grade meals and ships them fresh to your door on a regular schedule, so you can feed your cat the diet they deserve without any extra work. We’ll unbox Smalls food and take a look at its ingredients and options in this review.
Verdict (if you’re in a hurry). We were impressed not just with the quality of Smalls’ ingredients, but also with the extra thought they put into their products and meal options. In an industry focused on dogs, this is truly a brand that puts cats first.
In this review:
- Unboxing video
- What is Smalls? A quick look at its features
- Our Smalls Cat Food review
- How does Smalls work?
- Smalls food options (fresh, freeze-dried & kibble)
- Treats, toys & other products
- Other Smalls reviews
- How to cancel Smalls cat food
Unboxing Smalls Cat Food
What is Smalls?
- Fresh or Freeze-dried: Choose between Human-grade fresh food or freeze-dried raw, depending on your cat’s diet. And you even get to choose the texture your cat prefers.
- Human-grade ingredients: Both Smalls’ fresh food and freeze-dried raw food are made with human-grade ingredients, like whole chicken or turkey that you’d find at your own grocery store. No more mystery meats.
- High in protein: Smalls offers the ultra-high protein content cats are meant to have in their diet. Three protein options are available.
- No empty carbs & fillers: Cheap kibbles include lots of carbs, grains, and other fillers cat’s don’t need. Not Smalls.
- Steamed, not extruded: Unlike kibble, which is extruded at high temperatures that destroy nutrients, Smalls food is steamed to keep the nutritional value of the ingredients intact.
- Local: All Smalls ingredients come from the U.S. or Canada.
- USDA & AAFCO certified: All Smalls meals provide your cat with a complete and balanced nutrition.
- 100% recyclable packaging: Less plastic, lower landfills.
Our Smalls Cat Food review
As we touched on at the beginning of this article, fresh cat food products blow kibble out of the water in terms of the nutritional value they offer to your pet. Feeding your cat kibble or over-processed canned food is akin to a permanent diet of fast food. It doesn’t make for a healthy pet.
But even among fresh pet food companies, Smalls stands out.
We’ve tested and reviewed a ton of fresh pet food subscriptions services, and we can confidently say that none of them have put as much thought into their fresh cat food as Smalls has. Most other services are mostly focused on dog food, and even if they offer cat food, it’s an afterthought with far fewer options.
Smalls simply gets cats. The brand’s food options and other products are tailor-made for felines who crave the best food possible, and Kepler the Cat (pictured above) loved it. We think your cat will, too. Keep reading to learn why.
- Multiple meal options: Smalls offers multiple protein options. Some other fresh food companies only give you one choice for cats.
- Pick your texture: If ordering fresh food, you can choose between a ground or smooth texture to placate even the pickiest eaters.
- Lots of protein: High in protein, low in fillers. Smalls does include less than 10% fresh vegetable content to mimic what would be present in a cat’s prey in the wild. But they cut out all of the extra grains and fillers cheaper pet foods include.
- Local, high-quality ingredients: All ingredients come from the United States or Canada. The wet food is made in Chicago, Illinois, and the freeze-dried raw food is prepared in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Smalls also offers a healthy kibble, which is made in Brainerd, Minnesota.
- Pantry add-ons: Add other pantry products, like Giblet Niblets, Bird Broth, kibble, cat-nip crochet toys, and odor-eliminating cat litter to your subscription, so you always have what you need.
- Smalls is sustainable: Smalls takes sustainability seriously. All packaging is 100% recyclable, and the insulated lining that keeps your food cold can be composted or dissolved in your sink.
- Shelter partnerships: Smalls partners with rescue organizations to provide fresh, healthy food to rescue cats.
- Money-back guarantee: If your cat won’t eat Smalls, (which we doubt will happen) you can get your money back.
- Price: Fresh food is going to be more expensive than store-bought kibble. But there’s really no way around this. That extra cost is the price of healthy, fresh ingredients. But your cat’s improved diet should pay dividends down the road when they (hopefully!) run into fewer expensive health issues related to nutrition.
- Shipping: You’ll get free shipping on your first box of Smalls, so trying it out is easy. But if you decide to continue with your subscription, you’ll pay a $10 shipping fee per order.
- Kibble is hard to come by: In general, Smalls makes it super easy to order fresh or freeze-dried food. (We’ll show you how below.) But it is a little tricky to order some of their other products, such as their kibble. This isn’t a big deal, though, since fresh food is by far their best product. If you’re interested in some of these other products, you’ll have to go through the same survey and look for these other options after you get your fresh food recommendations.
- One voluntary recall: In June 2021, Smalls voluntarily recalled and replaced certain batches of two of their fresh food options. This was in response to a small number of customers reporting an off-smelling odor, although no known illnesses were caused. This recall was limited to specific batches and does not apply to any food currently being sold by Smalls.
- Smalls support: Smalls’ Cat Concierge team is available by text or email seven days a week. We like the text option, but we don’t love that you can’t get the team on the phone. There were also some past customer complaints about poor customer service, but some of this was due to a one-time issue with the company migrating to a new customer support platform.
How does Smalls for Cats work?
Smalls is an online fresh cat food subscription service. This means you’ll set up your subscription online and Smalls will automatically deliver fresh food to your door on a regular basis. You’ll always have just enough food, and you’ll never have to run to the pet store to restock.
Signing up is easy. Just go to Smalls’ website and click “Start Now” to begin their brief onboarding survey. Smalls will ask you a few basic questions such as the number of cats you own, their names, gender, age, spay/neuter status, body type, and flavor/protein preferences.
The survey takes about 45 seconds, and after you finish it, Smalls will offer a trial box with recommended recipes in both smooth and ground textures. (We’ll break down these meal options in the following section.) Your trial box includes about 28 meals, and it will give you a chance to learn exactly which recipes and texture type your cat prefers.
After learning what your cat likes, you can customize your subscription to include more or fewer options. Smalls will prepare and deliver this meal plan to you on a regular, monthly schedule, so the food is always fresh and you never run out. You can change or pause these selections at any time by logging into your Smalls account.
Smalls food options
Smalls offers a few different types of cat food and a few different recipes. All meals are USDA-certified and meet AAFCO standards for cats of all ages. The recipes and ingredients are also all sustainably sourced, humanely harvested, and made without BPA, preservatives, or grains. We’ll break down the different types of foods below.
Smalls fresh cat food
Smalls’ fresh cat food is our favorite option. It’s hard to beat fresh, human-grade, gently cooked ingredients because this process will retain the most bioavailable nutrients for your cat’s body to absorb. The fact that Smalls took the extra step to offer all three recipes in both smooth and ground textures just makes it even better.
Fresh food is gently cooked, then frozen and shipped shortly after. Each 11.5 oz food pack is measured in 50-calorie increments, so it’s easy to portion out at mealtime.
Fresh Bird (chicken recipe)
Fresh Bird, Ground texture
Smalls’ chicken recipe, “Fresh Bird,” features both muscle and organ meat, which provides a variety of essential nutrients straight from their natural source. And like all other recipes, it includes natural and added taurine, which is essential for a cat’s vision and heart health.
Get it in ground or smooth texture to suit your cat’s taste.
Ingredients by %
- Chicken Thigh Skin on (boneless): 42.55%
- Chicken Breast (no skin): 36.91%
- Chicken Livers: 4.70%
- Green Beans: 3.77%
- Peas: 3.77%
- Water: 2.78%
- Smalls Supplement Mix: 2.24%
- Chicken Hearts: 1.89%
- Kale: 0.94%
- Vegetable Oil: 0.47%
Some cat owners have complained that a small amount of Smalls’ protein content comes from plants (although this isn’t likely any worse than what you’d find in most other options). However, as we explained above, Smalls says this mimics the diet a cat’s prey would eat, which, in turn, a wild cat would consume.
Fresh Other Bird (turkey recipe)
Fresh Other Bird, Smooth texture
“Other Bird” is Smalls’ fresh turkey recipe. A majority of the meal is made up of fresh turkey thigh, but it does also include chicken livers to provide additional protein and necessary nutrients. As we said above, the inclusion of organ meats is crucial for a cat to get the essential vitamins they’d find in the wild. And as above, the meal also includes added taurine.
We like that the chicken recipe also includes chicken hearts, but the turkey recipe includes a greater percentage of organ meat overall, slightly more protein, and a little less fat. Either recipe is great as long as your cat can digest poultry. Get it ground or smooth.
Ingredients by %
- Turkey Thigh Skin On: 74.69%
- Chicken Livers: 7.47%
- Green Beans: 2.80%
- Peas: 2.34%
- Smalls Supplement Mix: 2.23%
- Kale: 0.94%
- Vegetable Oil: 0.46%
Fresh Cow (beef recipe)
Fresh Cow, Ground texture
If your cat can’t digest poultry, Fresh Cow is the answer. This recipe includes roughly the same amount of protein and fat as the chicken recipe, meaning “Other Bird” is the top choice if you want to give your cat as much protein as possible.
Still, this beefy recipe includes both muscle and organ meat, and includes added taurine. Available ground or smooth.
Ingredients by %
- Ground Beef: 73.2%
- Lean: 73.2%
- Beef Liver: 6.4%
- Green Beans: 5.5%
- Beef Heart: 5.0%
- Peas: 0.5%
- Water: 4.6%
- Smalls Supplement Mix: 2.5%
- Spinach: 2.3%
Should I heat up Smalls Cat Food?
You don’t have to heat up Smalls Cat Food. However, heating up the food will draw out the aromas of the ingredients and help lure picky eaters in to take a taste. Just make sure the food is only warm to the touch before feeding it to your cat.
Smalls freeze dried cat food
Some pet parents like to keep their cat on a raw diet, since this is closest to what a cat would consume in the wild. The benefit of raw diets is that there’s no cooking process to destroy any of the ingredients’ nutritional value. The downside is the mess.
Smalls freeze-dried raw cat food gives you the nutritional content of a raw diet with the convenience of dry kibble. It’s made from the same type of human-grade ingredients as the fresh recipes.
These healthy ingredients are gently dehydrated to make the food easy to serve and shelf-stable, and the process doesn’t destroy nutrition like the high temperatures of the kibble-making process does.
We prefer fresh food and only recommend using the freeze-dried food as a topper. But the only real qualm we have with Smalls freeze-dried raw food is that each recipe includes a small amount of goat’s milk, which may not work for cats sensitive to dairy.
Two of the freeze-dried recipes are the same as Smalls’ fresh food, and one is unique.
Raw Bird (chicken recipe)
Smalls freeze-dried raw chicken recipe includes the same organ and muscle meat you’d find in the fresh recipe, plus natural sources of minerals for healthy bones, such as ground chicken bone and eggshells.
Finely ground chicken with bone, chicken heart, chicken liver, chicken gizzard, chicken egg, goat’s milk, water, eggshell membrane, herring oil, mixed tocopherols, d-alpha tocopherol
Raw Other Bird (turkey recipe)
Raw Other Bird is Smalls’ freeze-dried raw turkey recipe. Unlike the fresh turkey recipe, Raw Other Bird doesn’t feature any chicken ingredients, opting for turkey organ meat instead.
Finely Ground Turkey With Bone, Turkey Heart, Turkey Liver, Turkey Gizzard, Goat’s Milk, Turkey Egg, Water, Egg Shell Membrane, Herring Oil, Mixed Tocopherols, D-Alpha Tocopherol
Raw Water Bird (duck recipe)
Raw Water Bird is Smalls’ duck-based recipe. Duck meat includes more fat than turkey or chicken, so this recipe may be better for your cat’s coat and skin. If you want to emphasize protein, however, the turkey recipe is best.
Finely Ground Duck With Bone, Duck Heart, Duck Liver, Duck Gizzard, Duck Egg, Duck Blood, Goat’s Milk, Water, Eggshell Membrane, Herring Oil, Mixed Tocopherols, D-Alpha Tocopherol
Smalls dry cat food
As we explained above, fresh, minimally processed food is far better for your cat than kibble. However, it’s also more expensive and a little less portable if you’re traveling with your cat. If you’d like to find a compromise between cost and quality, you could feed your cat a mixture of fresh food and kibble.
Smalls offers three different kibble recipes, which you can select as an add-on to your subscription, including their only fish-based food.
In general, these kibbles have a better ingredient quality than what you’d find in most mass-produced kibbles. However, we don’t like that each recipe does include meat meals (although not as the first ingredient, which is good). We also don’t like the vague reference to “natural flavor.” You can take a deeper look at the ingredients here.
- Chicken kibble: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Egg product, Pea Protein, Chicken Liver, Natural Flavor, Chicken Fat, Fish Oil, and Smalls’ Kibble Supplement Blend
- Turkey kibble: Turkey, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, Pea Protein, Peas, Natural Flavor, Chicken Fat, Fish Oil, and Smalls’ Kibble Supplement Blend
- Fish kibble: Whitefish, Whitefish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, Peas, Pea Protein, Fish Oil, Natural Flavor, and Smalls’ Kibble Supplement Blend
Treats, toys & other products
In addition to meals, Smalls offers several other products that you can optionally add to your subscription.
Treats & toppers
In addition to their kibble, which we’ve already described above. Smalls offers two other supplemental treats and toppers. These can be added or removed from your regular subscription at any time.
These healthy, freeze-dried cat treats are made from just one ingredient: chicken giblets. They’re a simple, crunchy treat you can give your cat in between meals without exposing them to any suspicious preservatives or fillers.
Bird Broth is simple, clean chicken broth for cats. It’s a great way to add a little moisture, flavor, and nutrition to dry food, or to serve separately in a bowl as a treat. We recommend using Bird Broth while transitioning picky cats to new food types.
These Crochet Prey toys are infused with catnip to send your cat on a trip and satisfy their predatory instincts. Smalls also offers seasonal catnip toys, such as felt toys in the shapes of various sugar cookies during the holidays.
Smalls’ silica litter is an odor-eliminating kitty litter that uses fewer of the harsh chemicals found in other products. Adding this to your subscription means there’s one less thing to lug home from the supermarket.
>> Read more: Open Farm Cat Food Review
Smalls’ fresh food plans start at $1.80 per meal. However, your first box will come with either 25% or $10 off, so you’ll pay around just $1.25 per meal.
Other Smalls products are priced below. However, it’s worth pointing out that when we checked, all products were being offered for 20% to 50% off the prices below. We don’t know if this is a standard discount Smalls offers on your first purchase, or if they just routinely host sales, but it’s worth checking to see if you can get add-ons at a discount.
- Fresh food: $9 per 11.5 oz pack
- Kibble: $18 per bag
- Chicken Giblets: $10 per bag
- Bird Broth: $5 per pack
- Crochet Prey (catnip toys): $7.50 per toy
- Silica litter: $18 per bag
>> Read more: How Much Does Smalls Cat Food Cost?
Is it worth it?
We really like the thought Smalls put into its products and services. I’m not sure if it would make sense to purchase some of their add-ons every single month, but fortunately, these are totally customizable deliveries.
Their fresh food, however, is an awesome option. It may cost more than your cat’s current food, but the whole, human-grade ingredients should come with health benefits that could reduce vet bills down the line.
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself if you think it’s worth upgrading your cat to fresh, human-grade food.
>> Read more: The Farmers Cat: Does The Farmers Dog Make Cat Food?
Other Smalls for cats reviews
Ellissa, Buffy & Bridget
“My Bridget’s GI issues have pretty much cleared up on the food, she’s regained the weight she lost, and I think her patchy fur is starting to fill in a bit, but of course, that’s slower. I am grateful to have found you!”
“He had his first solid poop since we got him. After several doctors visits several blood tests several different kinds of prescription food and several different medications I finally tried you. And it worked! thank you!!!”
Mathew, Pippa & Rufus
“This food is seriously the best thing to happen to them. Both suffer from gastrointestinal issues and your food is the only thing we have found that is easy for them to digest.”
“I can’t even begin to tell you all the positive changes I’ve seen in my cat! Weight loss, better attitude, less bloating, improved coat, more satisfied, less begging, completely lost interest in treats.”
How to cancel Smalls cat food
You can pause or cancel your Smalls subscription at any time either by logging into your Smalls account. If you need help, text their Cat Concierge team at 503-487-4303 or email them at [email protected]