Smalls’ human-grade fresh cat food delivers carnivore-appropriate levels of protein in an assortment of flavors and multiple moisture-rich textures. This homemade-style cat food brand has changed a lot over the course of its relatively short history, but is it a good brand?
In this review, we’ll provide an objective assessment of the Smalls cat food brand along with details from our own experiences to help you decide if Smalls is the right choice for your cat.
The Cats.com Standard – Rating Smalls on What Matters
We’ve analyzed Smalls and graded it according to the Cats.com standard, evaluating the brand on species-appropriateness, ingredient quality, product variety, price, customer experience, and recall history. Here’s how it rates in each of these six key areas.
- Species-Appropriateness – 10/10
- Ingredient Quality – 10/10
- Product Variety – 7/10
- Price – 7/10
- Customer Experience – 6/10
- Recall History – 8/10
Overall Score: 8.0/10
We give Smalls fresh cat food a 48 out of 60 rating or an A- grade.
Why Trust Cats.com
Before testing cat food, we thoroughly research the brand to get a feel for its nutritional philosophy, manufacturing and sourcing practices, and recall history. We also read customer reviews to get a feel for the company’s track record with customer satisfaction.
In addition to performing an in-depth evaluation of Smalls cat food products, our team has tried Smalls numerous times since the brand’s launch in 2017, with multiple reviewers and multiple cats giving their impressions of the product. During testing, we make observations about the products’ appearance, texture, smell, and consistency while relying on our cats to gauge its palatability and general appeal.
We also sent samples of Smalls cat food to an ISO 17025 certified food testing and analysis lab. Analytical testing tells us more than just the exact macronutrient and micronutrient content of the food. These tests also reveal microbial content and the presence of mold, yeast, and heavy metals.
Founded by two New York entrepreneurs in 2017, Smalls offers human-grade cat food in fresh (homemade-style) and freeze-dried varieties shipped to your door according to custom meal plans.
Instead of shopping in their store for the recipe you like, you’ll fill out a questionnaire about your cat to receive custom meal plan suggestions and start your subscription. Each month, the recipes in your meal plan are shipped ice-cold to your doorstep.
While there’s a lot to like about the idea of custom cat food meal plans, top-notch ingredients, and food that honors your cat’s needs as a carnivore, Smalls’ subscription model isn’t going to be for everyone.
In this review, we’ll go over the details to help you decide if this brand is the right choice for you and your cat.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Smalls cat food is developed with the guidance of pet nutrition consultant Dr. Susan Lauten, Ph.D. Whether you choose fresh or freeze-dried raw recipes, all of them are nutritionally complete and balanced according to AAFCO guidelines.
All of Smalls’ recipes are human-grade, which means they are made in a human food facility from USDA-certified ingredients fit for human consumption. These ingredients are sustainably sourced from the United States and Canada.
Their wet food formulas are prepared in Chicago, Illinois, while their freeze-dried foods are prepared in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Smalls’ kibble is produced in Brainerd, Minnesota. Every batch is thoroughly tested for foodborne pathogens. The company also performs regular spot checks to make sure the nutritional content of their recipes is up to snuff.
Has Smalls Ever Been Recalled?
Yes. Smalls cat food products have been voluntarily recalled twice in the brand’s short lifetime.
The first recall was announced in 2019 and affected Smalls’ chicken liver powder—a product the company called Diamond Dust. According to a statement from the company, the recall was prompted by a customer complaint that the powder smelled like cocoa powder.
Following testing, Smalls found that the product had, indeed, been adulterated and was not 100% chicken liver powder. We’ve not yet seen a statement confirming whether or not the adulterant was cocoa powder.
Concerningly, the recall applied to batches of Diamond Dust sent out to customers between October 9th, 2018, and March 25th, 2019. That means that for over 5 months, customers were potentially exposing their cats to an adulterated product, and Smalls seemed to have no knowledge of it. Furthermore, Smalls’ statement indicated that they weren’t changing to a new supplier. Instead, they would “require that our supplier upgrade safety measures for the manufacturing of all our enticements.”
In June 2021, the founder of Smalls posted a statement on the company’s website explaining that several recipes had been voluntarily recalled. This recall affected select Fresh Chicken and Fresh Turkey products labeled as:
- Ground Bird, Chicken Recipe
- Smooth Bird, Chicken Recipe
- Ground Other Bird, Turkey Recipe
- Smooth Other Bird, Turkey Recipe
The recall was issued after Smalls received feedback from several customers who received products that looked spoiled and had an unusual odor.
The company has thoroughly investigated its inventory and sent out samples to an independent lab for testing. As of June 2021, we don’t have specific details on what happened or why—Smalls is still investigating.
As of yet, Smalls hasn’t received any reports of illness related to the products affected by this recall.
What Kind of Food Does Smalls Offer?
Though Smalls started less than a decade ago, the company has gone through a number of significant changes in terms of its product lineup. In the beginning, Smalls was primarily a fresh cat food company (and still is).
For a few years, until mid-2023, Smalls also offered freeze-dried cat food and kibble. Currently, however, they only sell fresh cat food which is available in four proteins and multiple textures.
The following Smalls cat food recipes are currently available:
- Smooth Bird – Chicken pâté
- Ground Bird – Minced chicken
- Smooth Other Bird – Turkey pâté
- Ground Other Bird – Diced turkey
- Smooth Cow – Beef pâté
- Smooth Fish – Fish pâté
Smalls cat food is sold in 5-ounce packages, frozen immediately after cooking. The food is only available for purchase via subscription through the Smalls website. All subscriptions come with free treats for life. That is, Smalls includes a bag of Shameless Pets cat treats with each box.
What Did Our Test Cats Think?
At Cats.com, our experience with Smalls dates back to 2017, when the brand had just launched. Over the years, as they’ve added and removed recipes, changed their branding, and updated the customer portal, our team has kept up with the changes in the Smalls customer experience, ordering and reordering for multiple cats in multiple households.
We haven’t been able to find many other foods on the market that offer the same level of species-appropriate nutrition combined with outstanding ingredient quality and manufacturing standards as Smalls.
Based on both our experience with multiple cats trying this food and reading hundreds of customer reviews, we know that cats like the food, too. The soft, succulent texture of their human-grade fresh foods will appeal to most cats—including picky eaters.
Smalls Cat Food Reviews
|Product Name||Food Type||Main Protein Source||Calories||Price Per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Fresh Ground Bird||Fresh||Chicken||40 kcal/oz.||$0.80 per oz||A-|
|Fresh Ground Other Bird||Fresh||Turkey||40 kcal/oz.||$0.80 per oz||A-|
|Fresh Smooth Fish||Fresh||Fish||36 kcal/oz.||$0.80 per oz||A-|
What Do Customers Think of Smalls Cat Food?
Our team’s cats have consistently loved Smalls cat food. Every time we’ve tried Smalls food, we’ve been impressed by how our cats scarf it down. The food has a soft, meaty consistency similar to the fresh chicken or beef you might serve in your own meals.
While all of our test cats have loved Smalls cat food, the human experience is not as consistently positive.
“Best food ever. My cats are addicted to this healthy food. Even my Siamese cat, who’s very picky. They are active again, play around the most of the time. I use to cook for my cats. But lately I had no time, and I was feeding them dry food, with guilty conscious. The result of feeding them dry food was, they were sleeping all the time. My Bengal cat started gaining weight. Now everything is normal. I’m glad to choose Smalls.” – Kaiser Richter, Trustpilot, on September 28th, 2023
“I have been using Smalls for a couple of months now on my 5-month-old kitten (Milo). He absolutely loves their food! I began with the trial box to find out what he likes/dislikes. He seems to love the Bird and Other-Bird, however leans a little away from the Cow and Fish. I love how Smalls gives you the option to choose the quantity of each type of meal and the flexibility without maxing out one type.” – Maren B, Trustpilot, on July 20th, 2023
Satisfied Smalls customers frequently mention the quality of the ingredients and how much their cats love the food. Many customers enjoy having more control over their cat’s diet and trust that Smalls is a healthy and species-appropriate choice.
There are also a significant number of positive reviews that mention improvements in a cat’s digestion. These customers frequently mention that, while Smalls is pricier than many commercial diets, it’s worth the cost to them.
“We subscribed to Smalls last year and while our cats initially liked this food, I believe they recently changed formulas and our cats are no longer fans. On top of that, the customer service and shipping/packing issues are horrendous. If we order a combination of the different flavors/textures, we never get what we ordered. And then, when reporting that to customer service, we get a unsatisfactory response that just makes excuses for the issue.” – Kristie Kreiser, Trustpilot, on September 17th, 2023
“A few critiques would be the consistent changing of the recipes of the wet food. With almost every order we receive it seems to change and our cats have to readjust to new food, which seems contrary to what they discuss on their website about transitioning your cat to new food.
Another dislike is that the company is not very responsive when I reach out. You cannot call the company, you can only contact them via email or text message and then it does not feel like the person responding is an actual person.” – Melissa Tines, Trustpilot, on November 27th, 2022
Most negative reviews talk about the company’s customer service and recurring payment system. Remember that Smalls automatically starts a subscription when you buy a sample pack, so unless you cancel the subscription before your renewal date, you will be automatically charged.
Many customers are frustrated with this, saying that they were surprised by a recurring shipment, unable to cancel their subscription, or had difficulty contacting the support team. Note that until May 2022, you could only contact Smalls by email or text, and there was no phone support or live chat option.
Some complaints have started to roll in following Smalls’ reformulation. While we applaud the removal of peas as a primary ingredient, it’s inevitable a change in flavor may cause some cats to reject the food.
How Much Does Smalls Cat Food Cost?
Every customer gets a sample pack containing 10 packages of fresh food at signup. The recipes in your sample pack will be determined based on the information you provide about your cat during signup.
Smalls cat food costs $4 per 5-ounce package. The 10-pack sampler is discounted by 20%, bringing your first box down to $32. Free shipping is included.
After you receive your sample pack, you can log into your Smalls account and adjust your cat’s plan by swapping flavors or changing the number of packs you receive. Your subscription will automatically continue unless you cancel it, billed at $4 per pack and shipped every 4 weeks.
Depending on your cat’s size and calorie requirements, Smalls fresh food will cost between $1.00 and $3.50 per day. If you find your cat needs more or less food down the line, you can always log into your account and adjust the plan.
Where is Smalls Cat Food Sold?
Smalls cat food is only available for purchase as a subscription through the Smalls website. All first-time customers start with a 10-pack sampler which automatically rolls into a monthly subscription unless you cancel.
When you sign up for Smalls, you’ll provide information about your cat’s age and health status which Smalls uses to determine their approximate calorie requirements. Your cat’s plan will be developed automatically according to their calorie needs and flavor preferences.