- This post contains affiliate links. Read more here.
- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Fresh food delivery has become a staple in many homes. We’re all busy and it’s such a help to have that magical box show up filled with healthy ingredients and instructions for how to turn them into something delicious.
But fresh food delivery isn’t just for us humans—it’s for our cats, too! There are a variety of fresh cat food delivery services out there and we decided to test a couple of them out on behalf of all the finicky cats of the world.
Why not? The old adage “you are what you eat” applies to our cats as well. While many cat foods are highly processed and contain fillers and unpronounceable ingredients, fresh foods generally contain recognizable and pronounceable ingredients.
The fresh foods we tested contain no added hormones, no added antibiotics, no grains or fillers, and no by-products. They’re just full of the good stuff cats need like meat–which contains taurine, an amino acid that the ASPCA points out “is important for normal heart function, vision, and reproduction.”
In addition, fresh food makers claim benefits for your cat that include healthier (and less stinky) poops, cleaner teeth, and a shiner coat, to name a few.
How fresh are these fresh foods? All of the options arrived frozen or freeze-dried. One option was presented with one portion per pouch, while the other came in 11.5 oz. “logs” with markers on the packaging to measure 50 calorie servings.
Note, the fresh foods our kitties tested are not raw foods. These come pre-cooked or freeze-dried.
The fresh cat food tasters were Lewis, Clark, Beso, and Brillo, who range in age from one to seven and in size from small to large. Overall, they are pretty “average” cats—though surely they would disagree with that term—no one being particularly overweight or suffering from any health issues.
Despite best efforts to feed them a healthy, natural diet, three of the four previously refused the “healthy” food, going on hunger strikes until their bowls once again contained their usual junk food.
We have lately found a happy medium in a food that isn’t super-premium health kibble but it isn’t the bottom-of-the-line brand either. Lewis, Clark, and Beso will not eat wet food (rather, they lick the sauce off and leave the actual food) but Brillo, who is the baby, is a superfan of canned food.
Lewis, who is seven, has a real affection for fresh things like spinach, grass, and grapes. These cats live in a vegetarian household so meaty treats beyond their kibble and a regular supply of Temptations treats are not common.
Though all the fresh foods we tested are human-grade, this human is a vegetarian so did not do any taste testing herself.
Because this taste test was truly a test and not intended as a complete change of diet for its testers, fresh food was given at random times over a three-week period as a supplement to the kitties’ regular diets. This included as treats and as meals.
As noted above, the reviewers are not regular eaters of particularly healthy food or of wet food (with the exception of one year-old Brillo, who is currently weaning off daily wet kitten food) so this was a new experience for all of them.
Both of the fresh food makers we tested point out that introducing new foods to cats can be an exercise in futility because cats are, by nature, neophobic (meaning a dislike for new things.)
Some of their recommendations for introducing fresh foods into your cat’s diet include starting with a small spoonful, placing it in a separate dish, pretending to eat it yourself, and warming it up.
Note: We were sent complimentary cat food packages for this review, but we did not receive any compensation. All opinions are our own.
We reached out to a variety of fresh cat food companies and two agreed to take part in this taste test. Nom Nom, which also makes fresh food for dogs, and Smalls. Both offer foods made of human-grade protein, fruits, and vegetables. In addition to fresh food, Smalls offers treats, toys, and kitty litter.
Price: For those interested in doing a taste test of your own, Nom Nom offers a variety pack of six, 90-gram meals (three chicken/three fish) for $15. Subscriptions for a single cat household (based on an eight-pound cat) range from weekly (14 meals) for $27.52 to monthly (56 meals) for $110.07. The same for a two-cat household runs from $45.43 weekly to $181.73 monthly. Basically, around $3-$4 per day, per cat.
What the human liked about it: The human liked the packaging being by portion, making it easy to serve up without having to worry about overfeeding or trying to store for freshness. The human also liked the fact that she could actually see all of the ingredients in the food.
What the cats liked about it: One-year-old Brillo absolutely loved both Nom Nom flavors. He was particularly fond of the big chunks of fish or chicken that he could run off growling with, like he killed it himself despite the fact that he’s never been outside his catio. This made for a bit of a mess around the house so we were sure to try and break those pieces up a bit before serving.
Lewis and Clark, who normally just lick the sauce off wet food, were surprisingly receptive to both flavors as well, though they rarely finished an entire bowl. Beso just made cat stink face and walked off.
Recipes: The recipes Nom Nom offers for cats include Fish Feast and Chicken Cuisine. The main ingredients of Fish Feast include tilapia, salmon, beef fat, cassava root, and carrots.
The Chicken Cuisine’s main ingredients include chicken thigh, breast, and liver, along with carrot, asparagus, cantaloupe, and spinach. These recipes meet the AAFCO nutritional profiles for all life stages.Discover Nom Nom Here
Price: Smalls boxes are delivered monthly and custom-built for your cats’ needs so prices will vary. For just one cat of average size and age, the costs range from $1.10-$1.69 per day.
What the human liked about it: The variety! In addition to fresh wet food in various flavors, our Smalls box also included freeze-dried kibble in two flavors, chicken and duck, as well as freeze-dried chicken giblet treats.
The texture of Smalls’ fresh food is minced or pâté, making Smalls a bit easier for Brillo, the baby of the bunch, to eat (and therefore, less of a mess for the human to clean up). An added bonus were the hand-crocheted cat toys that came in our delivery—these were a huge hit with all of the cats.
What the cats liked about it: Baby Brillo was not discerning about the many flavors of Smalls to choose from—he liked them all. Lewis and Clark also enjoyed a few bites here and there but again, rarely finished an entire serving. Again, Beso just made cat stink face and walked off.
All four cats were big fans of the Smalls freeze-dried kibble, both the raw duck and chicken, and once they realized there were whole bags of it, commenced a concerted follow-human-around-meowing-until-she-opens-bag-and-gives-us-more campaign.
Recipes: Smalls wet foods come in a wide variety of flavors such as minced fresh chicken with main ingredients including chicken thigh, breast, and liver, green beans, and peas.
The freeze-dried foods contain a variety of meats (the duck flavor includes duck heart, liver, gizzard, egg, and blood) as well as ingredients such as raw goat’s milk, eggshell membrane, and herring oil. Smalls recipes are AAFCO-approved for kitty nutrition in all life stages.Discover Smalls Here
The true favorite for all of these cats, whose tastes may not necessarily reflect those of all the other cats out there, was the Smalls freeze-dried kibble. Perhaps they are fans of the crunch more than the smoosh, so this would definitely be a contender to add into their regular diets.
As for the fresh wet foods, the majority of these taste-testers enjoyed all of the Nom Nom and Smalls options, with some variations in individual enjoyment levels based mostly on the product’s texture.
Because of cats’ infamously finicky eating preferences, who really knows? What these cats would say, if they could speak, would be to give it all a try and see what appeals most to whom. Both Nom Nom and Smalls are available in easy-to-test amounts so trying out a fresh food diet for your cat won’t break the bank.
While neither of the fresh foods tested were raw foods, raw diets for cats are also very popular, and there are several raw food companies on the market that offer home delivery.
As mentioned in Rover’s in-depth analysis of raw food diets for cats, “Cats adapt well to raw food diets that are fresh meat-based with minimal carbs,” says Jim D. Carlson, DVM CVA CVTP, a holistic veterinarian and owner of Riverside Animal Clinic & Holistic Center in McHenry, IL. “A raw food diet reduces the risk of diabetes, obesity, and other inflammatory problems.”
Whether you choose to create your own or go with a commercial raw food maker it’s also a good idea to consult with your veterinarian first. It’s a big change that requires a big commitment on your end, so be sure it’s right for both you and your kitty before taking the leap.
If you do decide you’d like to explore a raw diet for your cat, be aware that it means more than just serving up some quality meat. Cats are obligate carnivores so, while meat is most definitely on the menu, raw diets also need to include specific amounts of proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and taurine–an amino acid critical for a kitty’s good health—and should be handled, prepared, and stored properly to avoid spoiling and contamination of a number of pathogens.
If you’re considering a raw food delivery service for your cat, some popular brands include:
- Bob-Cat Raw Food
- Primal Pet Foods
- Darwin’s Natural Pet Products
- My Pet Carnivore
- Rebel Raw
- Savage Cat Food
While we didn’t get to test them ourselves, here are a few other brands that offer fresh cat food delivery.
Raised Right Pets—Selling custom food plans for both cats and dogs.
Darwin’s Natural Pet Products—In addition to dog food, Darwin’s offers raw cat food, grain-free meals, and prescription meals for cats with health issues.
My Pet Carnivore—Raw pet food delivery service for both cats and dogs, featuring meats like chicken, turkey, and Angus beef.
Milk Pet Foods–All natural fresh cat and dog foods that are never frozen or dehydrated.
Some local pet stores, such as Marty’s Meals in Santa Fe, New Mexico, also offer fresh cat food–though not always for delivery. If you’d like to keep your cats eating local, or you don’t have the fridge or freezer space to store a month’s worth of kitty food, this could also be a good option for you.