Smalls: Real Food For Cats
Human-Grade Fresh, Wet Cat Food
We all want to give our pets the healthiest option when it comes to their diet. This is where Smalls comes in. Smalls delivers fresh, human-grade wet cat food right to your door. As "real food for cats," their wet and raw freeze-dried recipes use fresh, human-grade ingredients, like beef, poultry, duck, and veggies, like green beans, to ensure your cat gets a healthy, protein-rich diet with none of the extra filler present in many conventional cat foods. "Fresh" means that ingredients are cooked – or freeze-dried – for optimal freshness to optimize the health benefits and tastiness for your feline friend (or friends, as the case may be). Plus, subscribers can customize and adjust plans to suit the needs of their cat(s).
If my cats had their way, they'd eat whatever my husband and I are eating at any given time. Baked chicken? Yes please! Tuna? WHERE'S OURS?! Oh, you're peeling a mango? Let me try it! I love them, and I wish I could feed them the gourmet meals they (think they) deserve, but sadly that is not the case. I have neither the time nor the funds to whip up fresh raw dinners for them. If you have a food-motivated cat, you likely feel my pain (and if not, let me describe it to you: it feels like a cat hanging off you, acting as if the very full kibble dish is actually woefully empty and they have mere minutes left to live... oh! The sorrow!). So when given the opportunity to review subscription cat-food service Smalls, I was interested to see if my cats would not only enjoy the "human-grade fresh food" but might become a bit more chilled-out in their, ahem... demands.
Would my formerly feral felines flourish with fresh cat food? Or snub their pampered little noses at this cat food subscription? Read on to find out!
The Subscription: Smalls
The Cost: A trial box costs $54.00 before the 25% fist-box discount. After that, plans start around $4.18 per day per cat. Pricing depends on the number of cats you have, their size, age, and particular needs.
The Products: Fresh and freeze-dried raw cat food. Optional add-ons include kibble, toys, and silica-based litter for an added fee.
Ships to: The continental U.S. only (sorry, Alaska & Hawaii)
Pros & Cons
|Is It Worth It?||
|I’d Recommend Smalls Fresh Cat Food If You||
Meet Our Judges
Before we dive into this review, let's meet our panel of judges, shall we? I introduce to you, The Z's:
Weighing in at 12 pounds, unknown ounces, we have the terrific tabby, the pouncer of Portland, Mr. Baby himself... Zephyr!
Likes: Food, snoozing, parties, sunbeams, running to the top of the back staircase and only coming down when the magic word is said (the magic word is "TREAT" said loudly and with authority)
Dislikes: Fireworks, the doorbell, dogs, the car
Favorite food: Whatever you're eating but especially chicken
Love language: Quality time
Next up, weighing in at a slightly more slender 11 pounds, who-knows-how-many ounces, we have the mouser of Maine, the sharpest claw in the county, the kissiest cat of them alllllll, Zebediah!
Likes: Boxes, baskets, bags, square pieces of paper, Zoom meetings, words of praise, serious discussion
Dislikes: Unexpected visitors, expected visitors, dogs walking by the house, running water
Favorite food: Uhhh, "wild-caught"
Love language: Words of affirmation
If you can't tell, I love these boys a lot. They're brothers, who my mom and I found as kittens abandoned on a dirt road back in 2007 – so yes, as much as I hate to admit it, they're "seniors" (sob!). However, you'd never know it. Zeb still plays like a kitten, and Zephyr is bright and cheerful. My husband and I often say they've ruined all other cats, they're just so friendly and loving. Super snugglers, you might call them. They're both on the side of "plump" but have been deemed within their healthy weight range by their vet. They've been on a diet of high-quality-but-conventional wet cat food (they prefer pate) with a side of indoor formula kibble for the majority of their lives – the brand I purchase could be described as "mid-range" – you can't buy it at a regular grocery store, but you don't have to special order it, either... you feel me? While my two cat companions have always been healthy, I was interested to see how they'd do with a fresh-food diet. Would Smalls deliver? Or would this fresh cat food go the way of last week's toy (snubbed)? Let's see what the judges thought...
How to Sign Up for Smalls
First thing's first: before you can receive your first shipment of fresh cat food from Smalls, you'll need to fill out some questions about your cat(s):
I think the most important aspect of this questionnaire is what your cat does and does not enjoy in terms of flavor. My cats will really eat just about anything (I once watched in horror as Zephyr hoovered up a whole almond – he was fine, don't worry, but yes I panicked), but they seem to respond best to chicken/bird and fish formulas. You'll also have the ability to include add-ons, like freeze-dried morsels, toys, treats, and even silica-based cat litter. Once you make your selections, you'll be brought right to a checkout screen.
Because the questionnaire asks your cat's age and body shape (slender, average, or "extra cuddly"), I was curious to see if the trial package would be different for a cat of a different age and silhouette, so I entered info for my step-mom's kitten, Hoagie. He's about 10 months old and still sleek in his youth – however, the trial seems to be the same cost despite the difference in the size and age of the cat:
The trial box is meant to be a sampler and offers 25% off the first order, a chance to see how your cat responds to fresh food, and an introduction to The Lifestyle (my words). Most cats won't easily switch between cat food brands, so it's best to introduce them slowly – the trial box is meant to do just that. While it's unclear how long the trial box is meant to last, the plan is described as shipping every 4 weeks for about $4.18 per cat per day. Currently, we spend just over $2.00 per cat per day (they each get some wet food in the morning at evening, and a little kibble for grazing).
My First Smalls Delivery
How It's Packaged
Because it's free of preservatives, Smalls fresh cat food needs to be refrigerated, so it's shipped in insulated packages with plenty of dry ice to keep it nice and cold. Our Smalls package arrived on a morning when I wasn't home, and I'm pleased to report that it was still frozen solid several hours later when I got to my doorstep and brought it inside (I should note it arrived on an especially frigid Maine day, so you'll likely want to be hastier in the summer months). I immediately stuck almost everything in the freezer, except the package I planned to give my cats the following day, which I stuck in the fridge to thaw. And that packaging? Totally recyclable! The foam dissolves in water and the plastic can be recycled (most grocery stores have bins for plastic bag recycling). The cardboard box can be placed in your weekly recycling.
Our photo studio also received a duplicate sample box, and in theirs was a booklet that included info on portions, storage, and feeding guidelines. Unfortunately, the box that shipped to my house didn't include this handy guide, which would have been really helpful, especially because of how the food is packaged. Hopefully, your shipment does include this, though! That kitten on the front looks like my boys when they were tiny. 😍
Let's take a closer look at the food, shall we?
A Closer Look at Smalls Cat Food
First off, let me tell you I love Smalls' branding. The cat illustrations remind me of a more refined version of the cats I used to draw as a kid (cat lady for life here). It's all very cute and charming. Included in our box was a package of Fresh Kills (turkey meat and chicken liver), Smooth Bird (chicken recipe), Smooth Other Bird (turkey), Smooth Fish (self-explanatory), Ground Fish, Ground Bird, Freeze-Dried Raw bird, and Freeze-Dried Raw Other Bird. Quite a feast for two tabbies! Each formula is balanced to deliver high-protein, low-carbohydrate, moisture-rich goodness that's free of by-products. Essentially, it's like human food, but for cats!
The freeze-dried food is for cats who love crunch and crave raw food in a convenient dry food package. Kind of like kibble, but probably better (I'm just guessing because I'm not a cat). A 12 oz. package of the freeze-dried raw food costs $22.00. Considering the serving size for a 4 lb. cat is listed as 1/4 cup, this freeze-dried food seems more like a nice topping than something I'd feed my cats a full serving of. But who doesn't enjoy a little crunchy topping? I had my suspicions my boys would like this.
Here's the rest of their feast. Each package is 11.5 oz and costs about $9.00 each. Because the food is fresh, these should be kept frozen and thawed overnight before serving to your cats.
Breakfast in our house is a frenzied time that typically starts at 5 am with a cat-slap to the face. Because cats often have sensitive tummies and picky dispositions, I started by adding a little of the new Smalls food to their regular formula (instead of going all-in). I was expecting fireworks, 5-claw reviews, exuberant purring. Reality? Both Zeb and Zephyr, who I usually have to fight off when the can opens, were a little "meh" towards it. We kept at it, though, and each day I'd mix a little more Smalls into a little less of their regular food, and over time they warmed up. Hey, cats are cats and even the friendly, cuddly ones have to exert their cattiness from time to time.
The Smalls food certainly smelled better than their regular conventional cat food, and it looked better too, but I have to say, the overall reaction wasn't what I was expecting from my food-motivated cats. They did seem to enjoy the freeze-dried kibble, which I used to top their wet food and sprinkled on top of their daily allowance of conventional kibble.
For me, the packaging was a bit of a stumbling block. I appreciate that Smalls uses fewer materials than cans, but the plastic baggie construction was hard to get used to. Smalls does offer a storage container in the add-on section, which I would consider investing in if we switched to Smalls completely. After portioning out their food, I wrapped the remainder, placed it in a storage container, and stored it back in the fridge for the next mealtime.
Smalls delivered! While I didn't notice any of the changes mentioned on the Smalls site – healthier coats, less smelly trips to the litter box, fresher breath, fewer hairballs – this was also a trial run, and the time taken to introduce my cats to the new food didn't allow for enough of a test period to see those results. The food certainly looked healthier and high-quality though, and I really do want to give my cats the best. I love Smalls' branding and the company truly seems invested in giving cats the best-of-the-best. The Smalls plan would be more cost-effective for someone with a single cat, or with, let's be honest, smaller cats (mine are not only "cuddly", but just generally quite large). A one-month supply of Smalls for my two cats rings in at just over $250.00 (I currently pay about $130.00). At nearly twice what I currently pay for cat food, the plan is a bit cost-prohibitive for me, but I would absolutely purchase Smalls as a supplementary mealtime add-in and as I mentioned, it would be a great choice for someone with a single cat or a smaller cat. If you're searching for a fresh cat food delivery service, give Smalls a try – it could be "purr-fect" for your feline friends and there's no risk – Smalls offers a money-back guarantee after the two week trial period and within 30 days of purchase. And if you need help or have questions, the Cat Concierge team is available by text or email.
More questions? Check out the FAQ on the Smalls website!
Interested in more ways to improve your cat's life? Check out our list of the Best Cat Subscription Boxes.