Ask Smalls: How did Smalls develop their recipes?

While it isn’t hard to see the problems that exist with the current cat food industry, it is hard to develop the right solution. We consulted doctors, like Dr. Susan Lauten, from the beginning of our development to the final product. Working primarily with Dr. Lauten but consulting with other cat experts, we found that our focus should be on these simple, core ideas that most other foods lack: high quality meat (and lots of it) and enough moisture to keep our cats properly hydrated.

Our recipe had to meet the standards set out by Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a group of state and federal officials who regulate pet food products and quality regulation. These standards set baselines for the necessary vitamins and minerals present in the food. We met the standards largely by drawing nutrients from whole foods like meats and vegetables, and added supplements to round out the recipes. Wanting our food to be as delicious as it was healthy for our cats, we created three different recipes: Chicken, Turkey and Beef. We knew each recipe had to have liver because it’s not only highly nutritious, but absolutely delicious to cats as well and one of the things cats eat in the wild. Meat is primarily important for providing protein and fat, but it also contains amino acids like taurine, which supports some of the most vital aspects of a cat’s health: vision and reproduction. It also has arginine, another nutrient that promotes healthy liver function.

After researching how cats metabolize their energy from food, we found that the optimal combination was keeping the protein over 50% of metabolizable energy, the metabolizable energy from fat under 50% and minimizing carbs. Cats thrive on a meat-based diet and have little to no need for carbohydrates, which is why our food is less than 5% carbs in terms of metabolizable energy. It’s critical to cats to maintain a calcium to phosphorous ratio of 1.2 to 1, and we also made sure to keep phosphorous levels under 260 mg per 100 kcal.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, we conducted taste tests with our cats, got their seal of approval, and decided this was something the world deserved to share.

TLDR: We wanted our recipes to be similar to a cat’s natural diet, so we prioritized lots of high quality protein and high levels of moisture. Cats are natural carnivores and have minimal use for carbohydrates, and we cooked accordingly.

Shameless Plug: We’re the Smalls team. We make really good food for cats from human grade ingredients. Check us out at