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The We’re All About Cats Standard – Rating Smalls On What Matters
We’ve analyzed Smalls and graded it according to the We’re All About Cats 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.
Brand Name: Smalls
- Species-Appropriateness – 9/10
- Ingredient Quality – 10/10
- Product Variety – 9/10
- Price – 5/10
- Customer Experience – 6/10
- Recall History – 6/10
Overall Score: 8/10
We give Smalls fresh cat food a 45 out of 60 rating or a B grade.
The story of Smalls begins with co-founders Matt Michaelson and Calvin Bohn in 2017. After preparing simple, homemade cat food in their East Village apartment in New York, the founders of Smalls decided to share their recipes with the world.
Smalls offers fresh, human-grade cat food made with sustainably sourced ingredients in protein-rich formulas that are free from grains, fillers, and artificial additives. Fill out a questionnaire about your cat to receive custom meal plan suggestions and start your subscription.
While there’s a lot to like about the idea of custom cat food meal plans, top-notch ingredients, and foods that honor cats’ needs as carnivores, Smalls misses the mark in a few areas. In this review, you’ll learn about the good and bad of Smalls and whether or not it’s a good choice for your cat.
Sourcing And Manufacturing
All of Smalls’ recipes are human-grade, which means they are made with USDA-certified ingredients fit for human consumption. These ingredients are sustainably-sourced from the United States and Canada.
Smalls fresh food is cooked in USDA-certified kitchens from recipes that are rich in protein and free of by-products, fillers, and artificial additives.
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.
Smalls’ cat food formulas were developed in partnership with Susan Lauten, PhD, a pet nutrition consultant.
Has Smalls Ever Been Recalled?
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 affects 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 their 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. Customers can check their batch numbers on the Smalls website and request replacement products.
What Kind of Food Does Smalls Offer?
Though Smalls started only a few years ago, the company has gone through a number of significant changes in terms of their product lineup. In the beginning, Smalls was primarily a fresh cat food company (and still is), but now they offer freeze-dried food and kibble.
Each of Smalls’ cat foods comes in several flavors. Their fresh, human-grade cat food comes in four proteins and two textures. Choose from a smooth or ground texture in chicken, turkey, beef, or fish.
Smalls’ freeze-dried raw food is a nutritious alternative to traditional extruded kibble. It comes in three protein options: chicken, turkey, and duck. These foods are freeze-dried to preserve their nutritional integrity and to give the foods a nice crunch.
If your cat prefers a more traditional-style dry food, Smalls now offers kibble made with the same human-grade ingredients as their other formulas.
All Smalls cat foods are formulated with the help of a veterinary nutritionist to meet AAFCO’s nutrient guidelines for all life stages. They’re rich in protein with meat as the main ingredient and made without controversial ingredients like corn, wheat, soy, carrageenan, and artificial colors.
Smalls Cat Food Reviews
|Product Name||Food Type||Price per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Smalls Fresh Bird Recipe||Fresh||$0.78||A-|
|Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey Recipe||Freeze-Dried||$1.83||A+|
|Smalls Fish Kibble Recipe||Dry||$1.75||B|
#1 Smalls Fresh Bird Recipe
This fresh cat food formula features chicken as its primary ingredient and sole source of protein. It contains 92% chicken breast and thigh, 6% chicken liver, and 2% chicken heart.
With chicken as the main ingredient, this formula is packed with animal protein and poultry flavor. Aside from the chicken meat and organs, the food contains green beans, peas, kale, and vegetable oil. Though there are several plant-based ingredients in this formula, they aren’t included in significant amounts. The overall carbohydrate content is under 5%.
Overall, this fresh cat food recipe is a species-appropriate, meat-based recipe with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.
Chicken Thigh, Chicken Breast, Chicken Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Water sufficient for processing, Chicken Heart, Kale, Vegetable Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Choline Bitartrate, Salt, Taurine, Magnesium Gluconate, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Gluconate, Ascorbic Acid, Copper Gluconate, Vitamin E Supplement, Manganese Gluconate, Ferrous Gluconate, Niacin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Selenium, Dried Kelp, Biotin, Vitamin B12
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken Thigh, Chicken Breast, Chicken Liver, Green Beans
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Peas
Common Allergens: Chicken
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
- Rich in animal protein from chicken
- Very low in carbohydrate content
- Cats love the way this food tastes
- High in moisture, good for digestion
- Main source of added fat is plant-based
#2 Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey Recipe
As an alternative to fresh food, Smalls offers an assortment of freeze-dried foods, including this turkey recipe. This formula features fresh turkey as the main ingredient. In addition to turkey meat, it includes ground bone and a variety of turkey organs, delivering a prey-inspired mix of animal-derived nutrients.
Another interesting ingredient in this formula is goat’s milk. Goat’s milk contains probiotics, which can help support your cat’s digestion. You’ll also see some turkey egg and herring oil in this formula.
One point worth noting about this recipe is that while freeze-dried foods are typically meant to be rehydrated, Smalls freeze-dried cat food is meant to be fed as-is. The food simply doesn’t absorb liquid very well, so it doesn’t provide the moisture your cat needs in his diet.
Overall, this freeze-dried recipe is a species-appropriate, high-protein cat food with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.
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
Ingredients We Liked: Turkey, Turkey Heart, Turkey Liver, Turkey Gizzard, Goat’s Milk, Egg, Herring Oil
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None
Common Allergens: None
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
- Packed with high-quality protein from turkey
- Made with an animal-based source of fat
- No by-products, fillers, or artificial additives
- May be a good option for cats with food sensitivities
- Low in moisture, doesn’t rehydrate well
- May be too high in phosphorus for cats with kidney disease
#3 Smalls Fish Kibble Recipe
The most cost-effective meal plan Smalls has to offer is their kibble-only plan. They offer three kibble recipes, including this fish formula.
Smalls’ fish-based dry food features whitefish and whitefish meal as its first two ingredients.
Though this formula is rich in animal protein, it also contains several starches and some plant-based protein. Sweet potatoes and peas are high in carbohydrates and pea protein is a plant-based protein concentrate.
Generally speaking, dry food tends to be much higher in carbohydrates than wet food for cats. While this recipe is a little lower in carbs than the average dry food, the carb content is still higher than recommended, estimated at around 20%.
Overall, this kibble recipe is a fish-based source of nutrition with high protein and fat content and moderate carbohydrate content.
Whitefish, Whitefish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, Peas, Pea Protein, Fish Oil, Cranberry Extract, Chamomile Flower, Rosemary Extract, Smalls’ Kibble Supplement Blend
Ingredients We Liked: Whitefish, Whitefish Meal, Egg Product, Fish Oil
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Pea Protein
Common Allergens: Fish
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
- Rich in real, animal-based protein
- Includes fish oil for omega-3 fatty acids
- Relatively low in carbs compared to average dry food
- Contains several starches and plant-based protein
- May still be too high in carbs for cats
What Do Customers Think Of Smalls Cat Food?
Smalls is a fairly new option in the fresh pet food industry, having only been founded in 2017. The company was originally well-received but has had a few issues over the years, including numerous customer complaints and a recent recall.
The best place to find reviews of Smalls cat food at the moment is Trustpilot, where the company currently has 405 reviews and carries a 3.8 out of 5-star rating. Though 60% of those reviews are 5-star reviews, a full 15% give the brand a 1-star rating.
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 unable to cancel their subscription and had difficulty contacting the support team. Some said that, even after Smalls support said that the subscription had been canceled, charges continued to show up on their card.
Smalls only allows customers to contact them via text or email, which makes it impossible to get an instant reply.
Beginning in February 2021, we saw an uptick in complaints from commenters saying Smalls was failing to respond to emails, didn’t issue refunds, and continued to send food after a subscription has been canceled.
To get to the bottom of these issues, we contacted Smalls. The company representative explained that they had recently migrated their database which left customers with no way to manage their accounts online. Because it also made customer data difficult to access, Smalls was unable to contact customers or fulfill their requests.
While this does seem to explain some of the complaints we’ve seen, it doesn’t explain everything. It doesn’t change the fact that the Smalls site is difficult to navigate, that deliveries are often inconsistent, and that there is no way to contact this company by phone.
“I’ve switched to Smalls because I realized my pet deserves organic human-grade food. The most noticeable difference is my pet’s energy. After he eats Smalls he is ready for action and play. When he used to eat processed store-bought foods (high-end/top shelf), he used to nap afterwards, a long nap.” – Terrell
“I recently ran into some issues with Smalls. Although I was upset, their representatives are outstanding. I was assigned Mel, and this person did such a great job at resolving my problem. Thank you, Mel! My cat is a fan of Smalls, but now I am too because of how nice and accommodating their team is.” – Khoshnoor Paracha
“I have used this food for a very picky kitty and she lives all of it. We had a delivery problem and the minute I contacted Smalls they responded immediately and are reshipping replacement ASAP. Awesome products and really awesome service.” – Judith Wright
“Horrible customer service. Thought I was buying a trial run and they signed me up for repeat service of shipments of food that I didn’t authorize. Now they are charging me over $200.” – Cara
“I’d like to cancel my subscription asap. After eating an unusually watery ground turkey meal, two of my cats ended up in the ER. One had to stay overnight and receive IV fluids and assorted meds to get her eating again, she was diagnosed with gastroenteritis secondary to eating “something bad.” – KD
“At first customer service was ok but my cats hated the food. They tried to work with me and then confirmed the order was canceled. I was then charged and received an order. No phone support and getting no responses via text or email. Tried to go in and manually remove all the items in the reoccurring subscription. I also let my credit card company know. Save yourself the trouble and look elsewhere.” – SL
How Much Does Smalls Cat Food Cost?
Every customer gets a week sample pack containing 5 packages of fresh food – about 23 meals – discounted by 25%. This puts the total price at $33.75, or about $1.50 per meal.
Unlike some other fresh pet food companies, Smalls doesn’t portion out your cat’s meals according to his body weight. Instead, the company sends out a monthly shipment that they deem appropriate for your cat’s needs.
Depending on your cat’s size and calorie requirements, Smalls fresh food will cost between $1.00 and $3.50 per day.
If fresh food isn’t in your budget, Smalls offers plans that include freeze-dried food or kibble. A kibble-only plan is the most affordable, priced at about $1 per day while the most expensive plan contains freeze-dried and fresh food for about $4.90 per day.
Overall, Is Smalls A Good Choice?
Smalls is a relatively new company that offers an excellent variety of foods and meal plans that honor your cat’s needs as a carnivore.
But while this brand seems to be built on good nutritional principles, its customer experience leaves a lot to be desired. We’re told that Smalls is working to correct these issues and to recover from their recent recall, but until those problems are resolved, this is not a brand we can enthusiastically recommend.
How Do You Order Smalls Cat Food?
The process to order Smalls is similar to other fresh pet food companies like Nom Nom. You start by filling out a questionnaire to provide information about your cat. Smalls then uses that information to create a custom meal plan catered to your cat’s calorie requirements and preferences.
In addition to basic information about your cat’s name and age, Smalls asks about his or her spay/neuter status, body composition, and flavor preferences.
After filling out the questionnaire, Smalls directs you to a checkout page where you can purchase their two-week sampler pack which includes all of their fresh food recipes (unless you chose to leave one out). This sampler pack includes five packages of fresh food discounted by 25% which gives you about 23 meals for under $1.50 per meal.
Get 25% off your first order, which includes samples of all the fresh food recipes Smalls has to offer.