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Despite the fact that my two cats are ingrates who don’t appreciate a single thing I do (sound familiar, fellow cat parents?), I’d love for them to stick around, well, forever. Sadly, the average lifespan of our feline friends is far too short, ranging anywhere from 10-15 years if they’re strictly indoor animals. As a concerned cat mom, I’m always on the lookout for how to improve their health and wellbeing—and much of that starts with what they eat every day. Fortunately, I recently discovered Smalls, a whole new breed of cat food that offers perfectly nourishing, paw-licking meals for our pets, along with the ease and convenience of a recurring subscription for busy owners. Thanks to Smalls, I suspect my cats now eat better than I do—and I couldn’t be happier about it. Keep reading for my honest review, which includes some major input (think: licked-clean bowls!) from my favorite felines Benedict and Aspen.
What’s Inside Commercial Pet Food? Not-So-Purrfect Ingredients
Let’s start with the basics. Why Smalls, when there are dozens of commercial companies that have been producing cat food for years? The truth is that plenty of these mass-market corporations use highly questionable ingredients: chemical preservatives (like the suspected cancer-causing agent butylated hydroxytoluene), meat byproducts (considered an inferior form of the protein that cats actually need in their diets), and carbohydrate fillers and grains (which cats definitely do not ever need). While we’ve been trained to decipher nutrition labels when it comes to our own diets, many of us (guilty as charged!) neglect to do the same for our cuddly companions—despite the fact that we consider them family.
The world of pet food safety in general remains somewhat nebulous. Feed-grade products aren’t required to abide by U.S. federal food safety laws, which means you don’t really know what your four-legged friend is eating unless you do your due diligence. Since feed-grade only requires manufacturing with the same standards used for cattle or chicken feed, your cat’s food may be made with low-quality byproducts. The same disparity goes for the “human-grade” classification—a loose term that some companies may use to mislead you into thinking their food is better than it really is.
Why Smalls Is On A Giant Mission To Feed Our Felines Well
So what’s an anxious cat parent to do? For starters, assess each brand individually or simply find one—like Smalls—that does all the homework for you. Smalls was founded by two entrepreneurial friends who noticed felines had been left out of the fresh pet food conversation. In response, they started experimenting with cooking cat food at home—doling out small-batch portions to their feline-owning pals. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and Smalls was born.
The team at Smalls is absolutely fanatical about crafting fresh, healthy, human-grade cat food. While that human-grade label might mean something different elsewhere, at Smalls, it means USDA-certified, humanely harvested, and sustainably sourced ingredients you’d find at your local grocery store. Developed with input from animal nutritionists, Smalls’ high quality formulas are cooked gently in order to preserve nutrients and moisture. Every batch is tested for e.coli, salmonella, listeria, and mold, with regular spot checks performed to ensure nutritional content is on track.
If you own a cat, chances are you know they’re obligate carnivores, meaning they depend on animal protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals in order to survive. That’s why Smalls’ wholesome formulas are rich in protein—with a sprinkling of veggies, like green beans or peas, in the mix too. What’s not included? BPAs, preservatives, fillers, byproducts, unnecessary grains, and mystery ingredients.
Inside Smalls’ Simple, Straightforward Subscription
So the food’s great for cats, but how is the user experience for us humans? It’s easy. Start with a short quiz that asks about your cat’s weight, age, and needs to determine a customizable combo of wet and dry food (starting at $1.93 per meal) that’s best for your furball. Smalls’ subscription service costs the average single-cat household about $3 per day, but the brand will work with you to customize a plan that suits your budget.
An initial trial box gives you and your cat time to figure out their preference for flavor and texture—which includes three proteins (chicken, turkey, and beef) and two textures (smooth and ground). After the trial period, Smalls automatically ships you a box every two to eight weeks based on your schedule, although you can easily change recipes, edit quantities, or pause deliveries at any time. While shipping for the trial sampler is free, all subsequent orders have a $10 shipping fee.
The wet food packets arrive frozen in packaging that displays the food in 50-calorie increments. Smalls instructs you to stick everything in the freezer—thawing only one tube at a time in the fridge and serving it from a perfectly sized, specially designed container provided by them for this very purpose. The entire process is fairly straightforward, requiring only an additional step or two more versus simply cracking open a can of wet food.
Eating Well, Feline Better
Speaking of canned wet food, the only thing my cats seem to miss about it is the sound of the can opening—which signals mealtime. But I figure it’s only a matter of weeks before they associate the sound of the fridge door opening with their twice-daily feeding frenzy. While Benedict took to Smalls instantly (he’s especially partial to the smooth chicken formula, which is composed of 92% breast and thigh, 6% liver, and 2% heart), the other, Aspen, needed time to warm up to a new diet. After sniffing it suspiciously for several days, he hesitantly gave it a go—and ended up scarfing it down in a race to finish his bowl before Benedict. Cats are well-known for their picky eating habits, so if yours happens to fall into that category, have no fear: Smalls can advise on how to help with the transition.
Of course, if your cats start eating healthier, they’ll also start feeling better. Among the benefits that Smalls promises: fresher breath, a less smelly litter box, a shinier coat, fewer hairballs, and increased energy. The latter is what I’ve noticed most. While my two four-year-olds enjoy bursts of energy throughout the day, chasing each other and causing havoc in the house, it’s often short-lived and followed by very long sedentary periods. Since switching to Smalls, Benedict and Aspen have sustained longer intervals of activity—and although I’m not a fan of the disarray that follows in their chaotic wake, I’m delighted to see them more active and spry than ever. I’m eager to see what other positive changes I’ll observe in both of them over the next few months. (Fingers crossed that a better-smelling stool is in the cards!)
It’s A Smalls World After All
What I love most about Smalls is knowing there’s somebody else out there I trust who cares about my cats as much as I do. At the risk of sounding like a crazy cat lady, Benedict and Aspen are my world—so if I can do anything at all to improve their health and prolong their time with me, I will. After all, my cats may have nine lives, but I need every single one of them.
5 More Reasons to Try Smalls Right Meow:
- We all know cats have a mind of their own. If your kitty turns up their nose at all of the flavors and textures in Smalls’ two-week trial package, despite all efforts to convince them otherwise, the brand offers a money-back guarantee.
- As a Smalls customer, you have access to a Cat Concierge. Yes, you read that right. The team is available via text and email if you have any questions or simply need tips to help your feline make the switch to a new food.
- The brand cares about sustainability as much as it cares about our fur babies: the boxes they ship in are 100% recyclable, and the insulation used to keep the food cold is made of biodegradable, corn-based styrofoam.
- Smalls offers even more than two textures of wet pates—they also make freeze-dried raw food in chicken, turkey, and duck, which, unlike kibble, retains its nutritional benefits. (And they're cooking up some new textures for 2022.) Although the brand strongly suggests supplementing your cat’s diet with moisture-packed wet food, its freeze-dried option is a nutrient-dense alternative if your pet prefers dry.
- If all of the above isn’t enough to convince you, check out all the glowing reviews from verified Smalls customers—who’ve cited improvements in weight, gastrointestinal issues, and even cattitude!