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- Smalls is a high-quality, on-demand cat food company that delivers human-grade wet food and kibble to your door.
- Smalls wet cat food and kibble come in multiple flavors and their “enticements,” which include chicken liver powder and bonito flakes, help pickier cats enjoy their meal.
- Smalls offers a discounted, fully customizable two-week sample from nine different plans, with prices ranging from $0.75 to $3.12 per day (normally $1 to $4.29).
- After the sampler, shipments arrive automatically each month — you only have to return to the website if you want to make changes to your order.
Five years ago, after a run-in with a neighborhood raccoon, my sweet, shy cat Phoebe began to spray. A veterinary behaviorist diagnosed her with high anxiety, and to manage her fear, she prescribed a compounded medication to mix nightly with wet food. Ever since that day, I’ve been on the hunt for a cat food that doesn’t just cover the taste of her medication but that she actually enjoys eating, too.
In the beginning, I cycled through every high-quality, grain-free brand I could find. But just when I thought we’d found one she liked, she’d change her mind and refuse to eat it. After a recent dental surgery, desperate to get her medicine down, I headed to the drugstore and picked up the cheapest brands I could find. Kitty “fast food,” I called it. It got Phoebe to eat (and take her meds), but I hated giving her such low-quality nutrition.
Last month, we turned to the internet for something new when my editor asked me to test Smalls, an online real cat food company. The company’s wet and dry foods are made in partnership with animal nutritionists and behaviorists to address specific feline dietary needs using ingredients sourced from the US and Canada. The foods are complete and balanced, which means they are formulated to meet AAFCO nutrient trials and then verified by lab analysis.
Smalls’ two-week sampler box was fully customizable and would last long enough for Phoebe to make up her mind. I was eager to give it a shot.
Picking our Smalls cat food preferences
The Smalls website is extremely user-friendly. They begin with a few basic questions about your cats’ needs, including their weight and build and your preferred price range. Next, you can choose from nine plans, each with a different ratio of wet-to-dry food.
The two-week sampler box comes with a 25% discount, making it $0.75 to $3.12 per cat per day (depending on the plan you choose) versus the regular $1 to $4.29 per cat per day. The sampler also comes with a money-back guarantee for picky cats.
Smalls offers six options for wet food: minced chicken, chicken pate, minced turkey, turkey pate, minced beef, and beef pate. They also have three flavors of freeze-dried raw kibble (chicken, turkey, and duck) and three flavors of “simply cooked” kibble (turkey, chicken, and fish). The ingredients for every recipe are listed online along with their nutritional breakdown.
The website also describes the benefits that cats on a high-quality Smalls diet are likely to experience, including fresher breath and less stinky litter within a month, a shinier coat and fewer hairballs within two months, and more energy within three months.
Once you’ve signed up, Smalls automatically sends new deliveries monthly without you having to return to the website. If you want to make changes to your original order — for instance, if your kitty disliked one of the flavors you initially chose — it’s quick and easy to make adjustments.
The Smalls arrives, and Phoebe (slowly) chows down
Our shipment of Smalls arrived with multiple long packages of frozen pate and minced meat nestled in dissolvable corn insulation. For reviewing purposes, the company sent me a complimentary full month’s sample instead of the typical two-week sample with each of the six wet food options and the chicken and lamb flavored freeze-dried kibble. We also received a bag of freeze-dried chicken giblet treats and a bag of Smalls’ natural millet cat litter. The packaging was bright, simple, and branded adorably.
The most exciting part of the shipment, though, were the “enticements.” Smalls’ enticements are kitty condiments that, when mixed with the wet and dry food, can help a cat to transition from standard cat food brands. My “cat concierge” Alex, who texted to make sure my shipment arrived and my cat was enjoying the food, explained that some cats are skeptical of Smalls at first. The enticements, which include “gold leaf” (bonito flakes), “diamond dust” (chicken liver powder), and “liquid gold” (chicken broth), can encourage them to give it a try. Heating the wet food for 15 seconds with a little water can also appeal to some cats, Alex said.
We started out with the beef pate, medicine-free. Phoebe gave it a taste, ate a few bites, then walked away. I added the chicken liver powder and offered it to her again. She gingerly ate the top layer of the pate covered in the “diamond dust.” Progress. I mixed what was left with the bonito flakes. More success.
The next day I added Phoebe’s anxiety medication to her beef pate mixed with both bonito flakes and chicken liver powder and held my breath. She approached, sniffed and ate…slowly. We tried the minced chicken next, followed by the turkey pate. Her favorite by far was the turkey pate, made with turkey thigh, chicken liver, green beans, peas, kale and vegetable oil along with several added vitamins and supplements. She barely needed any “enticement” to complete her meal.
The kibble, though, was a different story. On our first day, I offered both her and my other cat, Osito, a few pieces of the chicken-style which is a freeze-dried concoction made with ground chicken, chicken heart, liver and gizzard, egg, and goat’s milk. Neither cat would touch it. Assuming they were being picky, I offered a friend some of the kibble to try with her cat. I was right. “Nyx lost her mind over it,” my friend informed me. Nyx was a willing taste-tester for the beef pate that Phoebe was lukewarm about, too. “She loves it,” my friend confirmed.
The freeze-dried raw duck kibble recipe got a better response from my cats. Phoebe turned up her nose, but Osito inhaled the small dish of kibble I’d offered as if they were treats. I texted my cat concierge Alex to see if there was anything besides adding the enticements that might change Phoebe’s mind. Alex told me that sometimes that’s just the way it goes: “The freeze-dried raw food isn’t for every cat.”
The bottom line
I fell for Smalls the moment I landed on their website. The simple user-friendly design, the high-quality nutrition they offer, and the transparent recipes made me excited to try them out. Offering wet and dry foods made from whole ingredients and formulated in partnership with animal nutritionists, this brand is an excellent option made all the better thanks to convenient automatic home delivery.
Phoebe, though not quite as gung-ho as I was, slowly warmed up to Smalls, too, with the help of kitty condiments like chicken liver powder and bonito flakes. She still disapproves of the freeze-dried kibble, but my other cat, Osito, loved the duck recipe. A third cat I tested the food on went crazy for both the beef pate and the freeze-dried chicken kibble. If your cat doesn’t warm up to Smalls, there are other fresh cat food companies to try, too.
Pros: Human-grade wet and dry food delivered to your door, complete and balanced, six flavors of wet food and six flavors of kibble, three kinds of “enticements” to mix with the food, discounted two-week sampler with money-back guarantee, automatic monthly delivery, excellent customer service, easy-to-navigate website, also sells treats and two types of cat litter, nine different plans and price points
Cons: Takes some cats time to transition to the food, picky cats may not enjoy the freeze-dried kibble