We Tried Freeze-Dried Food That Actually Improved Our Cats’ Health
Bye-bye smelly poops 👋💩
We independently pick all the products we recommend because we love them and think you will too. If you buy a product from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.
You want to give your cat the absolute best food you can, which is why you might be interested in exploring a raw diet for him.
Since most raw diets can be pretty messy, we wanted to give Smalls freeze-dried raw cat food a try, to see if there’s a raw option that’s actually pretty clean and won’t end up turning our kitchen into a complete disaster — and we were totally impressed.
We actually saw real improvements in our cats’ health during our judging round (like no more smelly poops).
And we love having a dry food option that’s so good for them (and so convenient!) — since Smalls cat food is made of real ingredients, we know exactly what we’re giving them.
Here’s why it earned our enthusiastic Paw of Approval.
What Is Smalls Freeze-Dried Cat Food?
Smalls is a cat food subscription service that focuses on creating high-protein, human-grade cat food. We decided to test their freeze-dried raw option, which claims to combine all the health benefits of a raw diet with the convenience of dry kibble.
Raw food is great for your cat because it’s more natural and the protein content is more filling.
Smalls claims their cat food will positively impact your cat within the first three months. According to Smalls, cats who eat their food may experience:
- Fresher breath
- Less stinky poops
- Shiny coats
- Fewer hairballs
- More energy
- Better sleep
The Smalls freeze-dried raw food is a crunchy, high-protein alternative to kibble. It’s made with raw ingredients and comes in chicken, turkey and duck recipes. The dry food lasts up to 18 months if it hasn’t been opened. But since it’s made with real ingredients (that eventually go bad), it only keeps for about 30 days after you’ve opened it.
When it comes to getting your subscription going, it’s pretty easy.
First, you fill out a survey about your cat, his food preferences, your budget and his health. From there, you’ll be recommended a starter pack, which includes a bunch of different food options that your cat can test out to see what he likes and what he doesn’t.
After the first week of trying things out, your “cat concierge” (aka customer rep) will check in to see what your cat has liked so far. By the second week, your cat concierge will have come up with your pet’s personalized meal plan — including a cost estimate. But you can still make changes to that, or let the company know if you need more time to test everything in the sampler kit.
If your cat is super picky and doesn’t like anything in the sampler, Smalls will offer you a full refund. Since cats can take two full weeks to transition to a new food, you can’t request a refund until after that two-week mark (because your picky cat might actually come around by then).
After the sampler trial, Smalls will send you a box every two, four or eight weeks — whatever works best for you. Once your subscription is in full swing, you can always manage your subscription, make changes to future boxes or cancel.
We picked Dodo cats who would love a little health boost to give Smalls cat food a try. (A couple of them are pretty picky, to make testing even tougher.)
So … Did We See Any Health Benefits?
After transitioning our judges to Smalls cat food — utilizing the full, two-week transition period is very important — the freeze-dried raw food really seemed to be improving our cats’ health and helping with those stinky poops.
“I know she is getting lots of healthy nutrients not only from what's listed on the packaging, but because Cooly’s litter box odor is SO much better! I can't believe it actually improved the litter box scent! The stench is unnoticeable now!” — Kira K.
“Jinx seems to have lost a bit of weight since eating this new food. I do think it may be healthier and more nutritious than the regular food you would find at the supermarket for cats.” — Bethsie M.
Our other cats didn’t really have any issues going into testing — but their parents were still super excited about feeding their pets a dry, raw food option that’s good for them.
“My cat is getting some more nutritional food and that's all good with me. She’s still a kitten, so I thought starting her on raw food would be overall better for her growing body.” — Julia C.
“You could definitely tell just from glancing at the food that it was made of genuine, 100% freeze-dried meat.” — Tiana A.
What Pets Loved: It’s Yummy!
After fully transitioning to their Smalls cat food, our judges really enjoyed eating it. Even one of our most particular cats — who would hardly touch her previous food — became absolutely obsessed with her new raw diet.
“Cooly LOVES this food, and she is the pickiest eater ever. Since we've started using Smalls freeze-dried raw food, she runs to her bowl and finishes her meal in record speed! And then meows for more.” — Kira K.
“I think Jinx was confused by the texture of the food at first. Now he seems to be just as excited (if not more) for mealtime as before!” — Bethsie M.
One of our testers, Laszlo, was just a bit too change-averse for the Smalls to stick, but his sister, Marceline, was hooked. She even developed a weird new eating habit because she liked the freeze-dried raw food so much.
“Marceline decided that she liked the food a lot, but will ONLY eat it if we spill it out of the bag and leave the bag tipped over next to her bowl. She clearly likes it and actually will sit and wait for the raw food to come out to start eating, but with her if there's no food bag, it's no deal.” — Julia C.
Bonus points that it comes in a super fun cardboard box that our judges can play with.
“Jinx was first really intrigued with the box and chewing the tape that was used to hold it together.” — Bethsie M.
“Even the box is durable enough for our Cooly to play in.” — Kira K.
What Parents Loved: The Healthy Ingredients!
Our pet parents felt such a sense of relief knowing they’d finally found a dry food that’s also raw and super healthy for their cats.
“I really like that it’s all-natural and comes in three different flavors. You can tell the people at Smalls really care about the experience of the cat while eating their food!” — Bethsie M.
“The ingredients are amazing! I feel so good feeding these items to Cooly knowing I'm giving her whole, healthy ingredients.” — Kira K.
“It has many different meat options, and it's healthier than normal kibble.” — Julia C.
“The choice to test Smalls felt like a proactive choice — getting ahead of any issues and giving him food that seemed like it would be best for him, his coat and his health.” — Tiana A.
One parent was worried the natural ingredients would make the food smelly, but loved that she was proven wrong.
“I thought it might be a little more pungent, but it was essentially odor-free, which was a big, welcome surprise!” — Tiana A.
Since the transition process is so crucial — but still somewhat involved — our pet parents were hoping for clearer guidelines about what to do.
“I also think it'd be helpful if the benefits of the food and instructions on transitioning were included on a pamphlet with the delivery, or were made more obvious on the packaging.” — Tiana A.
One parent also found the website a little confusing.
“The website is very hard to navigate.” — Kira K.
As far as the actual food goes, they only really had some minor issues with the size and texture of the freeze-dried raw cat food.
“The food pieces are pretty large and not as easy for my cats to chew.” — Julia C.
“The food is really crummy, especially at the bottom, which can be both messy and inconvenient.” — Bethsie M.
And while one parent didn’t notice any sort of smell with Smalls cat food, another human tester thought it was too intense.
“The food smells strong. As someone who eats meat, it’s overwhelming. I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone who is sensitive to the smell.” — Bethsie M.
At $30 per box, our pet parents were torn about the price, but you can save 30% on your first order with our exclusive code DODO30. And while the cost and the two-week transition time period was a bit of a turn-off for one of our human testers, the other three would all gladly recommend Smalls freeze-dried raw food to other pet parents.
Our Takeaway: Healthy Dry Food That Actually Delivers Real Results!
Finding raw cat food that doesn’t make the biggest mess in the world is like finding a needle in a haystack, so we were thrilled to find Smalls’ freeze-dried option.
But the best part is that we could see real results — like a better-smelling litter box.
The transition process is a bit involved, so raw, freeze-dried food might not be for every cat, but it managed to make one of our pickiest judges excited for mealtime for once. Anything that makes our cats healther is a win for us!
And don’t forget to use our exclusive code DODO30 for 30% off your first order.
The Dodo may receive complimentary samples to test in our Paw of Approval program, but all our opinions are 100 percent our own. We only publish endorsements of products we (and our dogs and cats) absolutely love! You can find out more about our testing process here.
If you have a product you love that you want to share with other pet parents, send a tip to email@example.com.