Smalls is a subscription-based company that creates real food for cats and ships it straight to your home according to a custom delivery schedule.
Each of the company’s three ultra-simple recipes features fresh human grade ingredients, is hand-prepared in small batches, and is gently cooked in a kitchen designed for human food preparation. These foods are free from preservatives, fillers, grains, and artificial flavors.
To make it easy to get started, Smalls offers new customers 50% off of the first week of food and you can cancel at any time.
In This Article...
- Q&A With Smalls Co-Founder, Matt Michaelson
- When was Smalls founded and what inspired you to create this company?
- Do your foods meet AAFCO nutritional guidelines?
- How do you personalize the food for cats’ individual needs?
- How do you ensure that your homemade cat foods arrive fresh?
- Tell me a little bit about your sourcing. Where do your ingredients come from and how do you ensure that you are getting quality ingredients?
- You say that your foods are homemade. What type of facility are they prepared in, and what type of quality control measures do you have in place?
- Can you tell me a little bit more about your pricing?
- How do your delivery schedules work?
- If I live outside of the US, can I still order from Smalls? What is your home delivery range?
- Smalls Cat Food Review – Our Personal Experience
- In Summary – What Makes Smalls Great
- What Wasn’t So Great
- The Final Verdict
Q&A With Smalls Co-Founder, Matt Michaelson
I had the opportunity to talk about Smalls with company co-founder, Matt Michaelson. He was excited to share more information about the company’s background and vision for how it could change the way that people feed their cats.
Let’s learn a little more about Smalls from Matt himself.
When was Smalls founded and what inspired you to create this company?
Smalls was founded because the pet food industry needs a wake up call and cats (and their owners) deserve better food! If you were going to eat one thing for months at a time (or even your whole life), you’d want to make sure that food was REALLY good for you! The problem is, a few multi-billion dollar companies control 80% of the pet food industry and they seem to be more interested in making money than making the best food possible.
Kibble was invented during WW2, when there was a ration on certain metals used to make cans. So pet food companies had to find a way to make pet food without using cans – they came up with kibble. Turned out, kibble was more profitable and they could hide all sorts of ingredients in it, so they never went back. Without being too harsh, kibble really isn’t good for cats. Cats on kibble diets tend to be chronically dehydrated and a lifetime of being dehydrated is not a good life! Renal failure (kidney disease) is one of the biggest causes of death for cats and is directly tied to dehydration.
The other problem is that ingredient quality is lacking in almost all traditional foods! Not only do many pet food companies use some pretty terrible quality proteins (think rendered meats, by-products, things like that) but they also use extremely high temperatures to cook them. This over-processing destroys the nutritional quality of the food.
We wanted to make something better! Call us crazy, but we think cats that eat gently cooked, high protein, fresh food will live happier, healthier lives!
Do your foods meet AAFCO nutritional guidelines?
Yes! Our food is AAFCO compliant and is a complete and balanced diet for all life stages.
How do you personalize the food for cats’ individual needs?
When you sign up, we ask you a bunch of questions about your cat! Age, body type, weight, health issues, neutered/spayed, etc. We really push back against this one size fits all idea for food. Every cat is different.
From there, we recommend some recipes and tell you exactly how many calories your cat needs per day. You can choose if you want to feed your cat all Smalls or if you want to mix it with other food, too!
How do you ensure that your homemade cat foods arrive fresh?
We buy all of our ingredients the same day we cook and then freeze it right away. We also cook on a weekly basis so the food coming to you is never too old. And, I think the biggest thing is that unlike food that’s been heavily processed, our food doesn’t have 25 year shelf lives!
Tell me a little bit about your sourcing. Where do your ingredients come from and how do you ensure that you are getting quality ingredients?
Sourcing! Yes! We LOVE this question. So all of our ingredients are sourced from 100% USDA certified human grade suppliers. Our meat comes from London Meat Co., which is local to us in Manhattan. They source everything as locally as possible, most of the time within 100 miles of New York. Our vegetables come from the grocery store and our vitamins and minerals come from GNC.
As we get bigger, we’ll be working directly with farms to ensure as much traceability in our supply chain as humanly possible. Sourcing is such an opaque topic in the pet food industry and we want to be different. Ask us any time where we are buying our ingredients and we’ll happily share. If anyone wants, shoot us an email and we’ll even give you a kitchen tour. We have nothing to hide!
You say that your foods are homemade. What type of facility are they prepared in, and what type of quality control measures do you have in place?
Our food is prepared in Brooklyn Foodworks and to be fair, we don’t technically live there…although sometimes it feels like it. We call it homemade because besides the fact that we don’t live there, it’s the same idea. We use only equipment that you would find at home and our recipes would be easy to follow as a home cook!
In terms of safety measures, since we are in a human food facility, we adhere to all strict policies for human food production. Foodworks is strict about this and the facility is inspected by the USDA on a regular basis.
Can you tell me a little bit more about your pricing?
Cool – so, our price point is similar to your high quality canned food with a range of prices depending on your cat’s needs, which recipes you want, and how often you’d like it delivered, of about $2.00 to $3.50 per day per cat. Given that our food is made with 100% human grade ingredients, arrives fresh/frozen, we think that being in a similar price point as canned food it pretty great!
How do your delivery schedules work?
Our shipments are sent out each Tuesday and arrive within 1 to 2 days of shipment. Since we ship just once a week, your package will arrive consistently on either Wednesdays or Thursdays, depending on where you live. Shipping is always free and you can choose how frequently you’d like to receive delivery ranging from every week to every 6 weeks depending on how much freezer space and how many cats you have.
If I live outside of the US, can I still order from Smalls? What is your home delivery range?
Unfortunately, we are US only BUT we can deliver to every state except for Hawaii and Alaska…no Puerto Rico, either.
Smalls Cat Food Review – Our Personal Experience
I received a sample of Smalls food for cats in exchange for an unbiased review. Here’s how that went:
The Ordering Process
Because Smalls is as much a customized cat food subscription as it is a maker of food for cats, the first step in the ordering process was filling out a form with information about my cats.
You can add up to five cats to the plan – I chose to add my nine-year-old male cat, Wessie.
I was asked to provide information about my cat’s weight, activity level, current diet, and whether or not he was neutered. Another interesting feature is the ability to mention any health issues. The website allows you to choose from a list of health issues including kidney disease, obesity, diabetes, urinary tract issues, allergies, or dental issues. If your cat has any other health concerns, you can also describe their unique needs in your own words.
After entering your cat’s information, the site will direct you to create a rotational diet from any combination of their three recipes and a meal plan. Depending on how committed you are to feeding your cat a Smalls diet, you can select either “All Smalls”, “Mostly Smalls”, or “Half Smalls.”
I ordered “All Smalls” and selected the Beef & Spinach recipe along with the Chicken & Kale formula.
A shipping delay gave the Smalls customer service team an opportunity to show what they were made of. When I notified them that the shipment was delayed, the team quickly leapt into action and sent out a second shipment. This second shipment of food arrived right on schedule. It was packed in dry ice and surrounded by corn-based biodegradable insulation.
The box contained three 16 oz packages of cat food and a small bag of chicken liver powder – an enticement for more reluctant cats. The package also included a brief guide that outlined the company’s mission, followed by tips to help your cat transition to eating Smalls food.
After allowing the first pouch to thaw for about 24 hours, it was time to try out the Smalls.
A Real Cat’s Opinion
The Beef and Spinach recipe was the first to undergo the cat taste-test.
The food was straightforward in appearance and smell. Unlike some cat foods that have been processed to the point of being unrecognizable, this was obviously crumbly ground meat, mixed with a small amount of greens and packed into a 16oz pouch.
Wessie eats a varied diet and has never had a problem with jumping into a new food. Instead of a gradual transition, I broke off a chunk of the crumbly patty and placed the food in his dish. Wessie, by no means a finicky eater, wasn’t very interested.
I sprinkled on some of the chicken liver powder, which promised to entice him to try the new food. Still, not much enthusiasm there. He sniffed, nibbled, and walked away. Following the addition of warm water to improve the texture and temperature of the food, Wessie at last finished the meal.
He loves it! The Chicken and Kale formula was a hit.
This recipe was considerably different both in texture and the taste tester’s reaction. The chicken and kale formula was very soft and pliable with the appearance and smell of chicken salad without mayonnaise.
Wessie was in love with it – preparation time was overseen by a quivering, purring, meowing mess of hungry excitement. He devoured the food and begged for more after cleaning the bowl.
Our week-long experiment with Smalls wasn’t long enough to show any definite health changes. Wessie was just as energetic as ever – perhaps slightly more, especially at mealtimes. Did I mention that he loved the chicken recipe? Other than that, his already good digestive health, skin condition, and the appearance of his coat remained unchanged.
In Summary – What Makes Smalls Great
- Because the company sends out regular shipments of frozen food according to a predetermined schedule, you’ll always have enough food to satisfy your cat – no need to ever leave the house.
- These foods are distinctly meat-based. Every recipe centers around fresh muscle meat and organs, followed by small amounts of low-glycemic vegetables like kale, spinach, and peas. Each recipe includes at least 48% metabolizable energy from protein.
- Because their recipes are so simple, Smalls is a great choice for cats with food sensitivities and allergies.
What Wasn’t So Great
- There aren’t ingredient lists on the food pouches or anywhere in the box. You’ll have to turn to their website to get that information.
- The company doesn’t explicitly state what supplements are included in their “Smalls blend of nutritional supplements”, so we don’t exactly know what’s going into our cats’ bodies.
- Their website currently doesn’t have a customer portal. While the team is ultra-accessible and is responsive to texts, calls, and emails, you don’t always want to send an email to someone before making changes to your customer account. It would be nice to be able to edit your subscription independently.
The Final Verdict
Overall, Smalls food for cats is a good choice for people who want to feed their cats a fresh, healthy cooked diet, but don’t have the time to prepare their cat’s food at home. Thanks to their customizable home delivery schedule and simple, meat-based recipes, Smalls combines quality with convenience in ways that we haven’t seen before.