♥ No recalls.
Smalls, a cat food subscription service based in New York City, features “healthy, real food recipes carefully formulated for your cat.”
Close friends since childhood, Matt Michaelson and Calvin Bohn started Smalls in Michaelson’s own kitchen in NYC’s East Village in 2017, when they were both in their early 20s.
Smalls cat food is now produced in a human-grade commercial facility, using recipes perfected over time with the guidance of a veterinary nutritionist.
The co-founders say no corners have been cut with Smalls cat food: no fillers or grains, no preservatives or artificial flavors, and only the highest-quality, responsibly sourced meats are used. There is never, ever any sort of “mystery meat derived from a process a human would never feel comfortable with,” they say.
Below, we share much more about the history of Smalls cat food — plus up-to-date recall information.
Smalls Quick Facts
Brand line includes: Smalls Fresh Kills (wet food): Fresh Chicken Minced, Fresh Chicken Pate, Fresh Turkey Minced, Fresh Turkey Pate, Fresh Beef Minced, Fresh Beef Pate; Smalls Dry Kills (dry kibble): Simply Cooked Chicken, Freeze-Dried Raw Chicken, Simply Cooked Turkey, Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey, Simply Cooked Fish, Freeze-Dried Raw Duck
Company: True Pet Food Project, Inc.
Headquarters: 49 Elizabeth Street 4th Floor New York, NY 10013
Contact info: 503-487-4303, email, website
“The first batch we cooked, we cooked in my kitchen at home,” Matt Michaelson, CEO of Smalls, told Petful in a fall 2017 interview. “We thought it would be like a small thing.”
Small thing it wasn’t. “We spent like 14 hours cooking that first batch,” he said.
“It was 3 a.m. by the time we were done!” added Calvin Bohn, Smalls co-founder and chief operating officer.
At first, the pair would rent a Zipcar and drive to various friends’ apartments all over New York City to hand-deliver their freshly made cat food.
The operation quickly outgrew their small kitchen, so they moved on to a commercial kitchen — and hired cooks.
Carefully Crafted Recipes
The recipes are formulated with the guidance of feline nutrition experts, who “can make sure we’re on the right track,” said Michaelson.
The co-founders say it took them about 6 months to get the vitamin mix right and ensure they had the right nutritional profile. The recipes include a small amount of vegetables to naturally incorporate important vitamins and minerals.
“If you’re going to feed your cat the same thing every day, and have a complete and balanced diet, it’s very tricky,” said Michaelson. “You have to be careful about it.”
And now? “We feel pretty good about our recipes,” he said. “They’re very meat-based, which really is what cats need. I think it’s the most expensive ingredient, so in a world where you can mislead people and you can hide your ingredient sourcing and what the ingredients actually are, you avoid the most expensive ingredient, and we’re not doing that — unfortunately for us, but fortunately for cats.”
Bohn told Petful in 2017 that he himself used to constantly sample the product. “I take a spoonful out of every batch,” he said. “It’s a little livery for my taste — cats like that livery taste more than I do — but it’s more than edible and totally good.”
These days, Smalls is produced with a co-manufacturer near Chicago, in a human-grade, USDA-certified facility.
“Cats Are Tricky”
On a crisp fall day in October 2017, the co-founders were in the midst of tweaking one of the recipes to give it more of a “gooey” gravy consistency.
“We’re going to puree our organ meat today,” Bohn explained. “Previously we’d just been grinding it whole, and now we’re going to make it into a little bit more of a slurry. It’s tricky because to a human it looks and smells grosser, but to a cat it’s infinitely more desirable.”
Michaelson added: “We’re still trying to get it just right. We might increase the amount of the organ meat. That’s a little bit more flavorful and more pungent, which cats like.”
“For the most part, it goes over quite well. But cats are tricky,” he said. “They don’t give the most detailed feedback.”
According to an interview by Pet Food Processing, the top-selling Smalls cat food recipe is Fresh Chicken Minced, one of the company’s original formulas.
In addition to the original minced wet food, the company’s product lineup has expanded to include dry kibble and freeze-dried raw recipes — plus treats, sustainable cat litter and even hand-crocheted toys.
Smalls Success Story
In direct contrast to competitors that start first with dog food — like The Farmer’s Dog, for example — and then later expand to cats, Smalls takes a cat-first approach to everything it does.
“We pride ourselves on being a company of cat people who are very serious about putting cats’ needs first,” Michaelson explained to Business Insider.
Their business formula has been paying off. In the short time from its launch in October 2017 through the end of 2019, Smalls experienced 5 times year-over-year growth in revenue.
In 2019, Smalls was one of a handful of companies chosen for the Leap Venture Studio, a 12-week startup accelerator program sponsored in part by Mars Petcare, the pet food behemoth behind big brands like Pedigree, Eukanuba, Nutro, Whiskas and Sheba.
As of early 2020, Smalls had raised about $5 million in funding from investors.
What’s in a Name
Originally, Smalls was going to be named “Cedric,” with the branding centered around a fussy and rotund cat named Cedric.
However, that name was quickly scratched upon realization that a chubby kitty wouldn’t be the best marketing direction for a healthy cat food.
And the name “Smalls”? Well, it has something to do with both rapper Biggie Smalls, who grew up near where this pet food was first produced, and the fact that cats are small animals.
Has Smalls Cat Food Ever Been Recalled?
No. This brand has never been recalled, according to our research.
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