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These days food delivery—of everything from meal kits to healthy local produce—is commonplace. We’re all busy and it’s such a help to have that magical box show up filled with healthy ingredients and even recipes for how to turn them into something delicious. But convenient delivery of healthy foods isn’t just for us humans—it’s for our cats, too! There are a variety of cat food delivery services out there, and more turning up every day.
We decided to test a few of them and see if our finicky cats had some opinions.
Why Food Delivery for Cats?
Why not? The old adage “you are what you eat” applies to our cats as well. Cat foods designed to sit on supermarket or warehouse shelves for months are often are highly processed and laced with preservatives. Many have grain or vegetable fillers, and important vitamins, minerals, and amino acids (such as taurine) are added as supplements.
In fresh foods, and foods sent out for weekly or monthly delivery, there’s less need for preservatives and often the amino acids come directly from the meat that makes up most of the food. The delivery companies claim benefits for your cat that include healthier (and less stinky) poops, cleaner teeth, and a shiner coat, to name a few.
Our kitties tested food from four very different delivery services. Our first group of cats tested:
- Smalls—freeze-dried in 11.5 oz. “logs” with markers on the packaging that allow you to measure 50-calorie servings
- Nom Nom—frozen in portion-size pouches
Our second group of cats tested:
- Cat Person—wet food (in 2.75-ounce plastic cups) and dry kibble (in 2-pound bags)
- Milk Pet—wet food shipped chilled in 10-ounce containers intended for immediate consumption or freezing
Note that none of the foods our kitties tested were raw foods. The ones we reviewed are pre-cooked or freeze-dried.
Our Reviewing Process
Meet the Tasters: Group One
The first group of 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 “healthy” foods, going on hunger strikes until their bowls once again contained their usual junk food.
We have lately found a happy medium in a dry food that isn’t super-premium health kibble but it isn’t the bottom-of-the-line 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 has a real affection for fresh things like spinach, grass, and grapes. [Ed. Note: Grapes are known to be toxic to cats. Read about that here.] These cats live in a vegetarian household so the only meat they get is their kibble and a regular supply of Temptations treats.
Meet the Tasters: Group Two
The second group of taste testers are all fans of one of the most popular supermarket cat foods: Fancy Feast pâtés. Perdita, Tink, and Mr. Tippy came from an abandonment situation six years ago and are missing some of their teeth, so they usually prefer wet food to kibble. Max and Toby are healthy neighborhood cats we adopted as seniors. Zoe is a spoiled tabby raised in our household from six weeks of age. All six are seniors, ranging in age from 11 to 23 and in size from tiny Tink to massive Max. In addition to being served wet food for their meals, they are allowed to graze on a high-protein dry food. Four of them eat the dry food, and two of them ignore it.
The Review Process
Though most of the foods we tested were human-grade, our humans did not do any taste testing themselves. We left it up to the cats.
Because this taste test was truly a test and not intended as a complete change of diet for its testers, the new food was given to both groups of cats at random times over a three-week period as a supplement to their regular diets. This included as treats and as meals. None of the feline reviewers in either group eat much high-protein healthy food (with the exception of one-year-old Brillo, who was weaning off daily wet kitten food) so this was a new experience for all of them. With Group Two, we gave each cat two small bowls. One bowl held a half-portion of their usual Fancy Feast and the other bowl held a half-portion of the new food. This made it easy to see their preferences.
All of the food delivery companies we tested pointed out that introducing new foods to cats can be a challenge because cats are, by nature, neophobic (meaning they dislike new things). They offered several recommendations for introducing fresh foods into your cat’s diet. These include starting with a small spoonful placed in a separate dish, pretending to eat the food yourself, and slightly warming the new food.
About Smalls Real Food for Cats
Recipes: Smalls wet foods come in a wide variety of flavors including minced fresh chicken with main ingredients including chicken thigh, breast, and liver, plus 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.
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.
Our experience: We liked 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, which made 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 a 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.
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About Nom Nom’s Fresh Cat Food
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.
Price: If you’re 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.
Our experience: The human liked that the packaging for this cat food delivery brand is done 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 tried to 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.
Easy-to-serve, high-protein wet food and dry food.
About Cat Person Cat Food
Recipes: The wet foods we tried from Cat Person cat food delivery included three shredded foods in broth (tuna, chicken, and turkey & chicken) and five pâtés (duck & chicken, chicken pate, tuna, mackerel & bream, and beef recipe). They offer several additional wet foods, so there’s plenty of choice. The dry foods from Cat Person were salmon & tuna recipe with salmon bites and chicken & turkey recipe with chicken bites. Note that while Cat Person food is not technically a “fresh” cat food, it has minimal preservatives and is not designed to sit for months on a supermarket shelf or your pantry—be sure to check the “use by” dates on the packaging.
The Tuna Shreds in Broth ingredients include tuna, fish broth, tapioca (for texture), sunflower oil, tricalcium phosphate, natural flavor, taurine, choline chloride, magnesium sulfate, celery powder (for flavoring), zinc oxide, Vitamin E supplement, reduced iron, salt, niacin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin A supplement, manganese sulfate, Vitamin B12 supplement, copper amino acid complex, pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, biotin, Vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, potassium iodide, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (FDA-approved source of Vitamin K activity).. This and other Cat Person recipes meet or exceed the AAFCO nutritional profiles for all life stages.
Note that the Cat Person kibbles are not as high-protein (or as expensive) as the Cat Person wet foods.
Price: The $20 Starter Box includes two flavors of wet food (each box contains five 2.75-ounce cups) and one 2-pound bag of kibble. This is probably enough food to feed the average cat for two weeks. If your cat enjoys the Starter Box, you then can craft a monthly meal plan with four or five packs of wet food (your choice of recipes) and two or three bags of kibble—at a cost of about $2 a day or a bit more.
Our experience: With six cats, mealtime can be a bit chaotic. What we loved about Cat Person was the convenience! It was so simple to open the plastic cups with the wet food (no splashing). The starter pack included soft, flexible plastic lids for the cups so it was easy to keep any leftovers fresh for the next meal without making a mess of the fridge. All the packaging is attractive, from the shipping box that converts into a cat playhouse (or in our case, toy storage) to the boxes that contain the sleek cups of food. If Apple sold cat food, we think it would look like Cat Person food.
What the cats liked about it: Tuna! All six testers went wild over the tuna shreds in broth and the tuna pâté. I could barely get Max’s head out of the bowl long enough to get a photo. Opinions were split on the beef and poultry recipes, and none of the six would even sniff the mackerel varieties. Based on their reactions, I’d definitely consider getting the tuna recipes to add a high-protein, healthier wet food component to their diets. They also loved the kibble—so much so that I could not use it to free feed them but had to portion it out, much like a treat, so they wouldn’t eat it all right away.
Milk Cat Food
High-protein homemade cat food with no preservatives.
About Milk Cat Food Delivery
Recipes: Milk has just two cat food recipes: Chicken and salmon recipe and turkey recipe—both made with human-grade ingredients. The containers of wet food are shipped cold and must be kept frozen. Once you thaw and open a container, it must be refrigerated and used within three days.
The chicken and salmon recipe includes USDA-certified chicken thighs, USDA-certified salmon, chicken broth, pumpkin, chicken liver, dried shaved bonito, and Milk Nutrient Blend (calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, taurine, sea salt, choline, kelp, vitamin E, vitamin D3 supplement, iron, zinc gluconate, thiamine, copper, manganese, and biotin).
Price: The meal plan for cats starts at $15 per week or $60 a month. Orders in Boulder, Colorado, are delivered by courier. UPS shipping outside of the courier delivery area is free if your order comes to $50 or more.
Our experience: The humans liked the quality of the food. Milk combines healthy human-grade meats with the correct amounts of key vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that cats need in order to be healthy. In short, it’s a veterinarian-approved recipe and meets or exceeds the AAFCO nutritional profiles for cats of all life stages. That said, the human did not like trying to calculate little cat-sized portions while serving from a big 10-ounce container.
What the cats liked about it: Sadly, the cats didn’t like either recipe. It may be because the Group Two tasters have always preferred tuna and salmon to poultry. It’s also possible that the coarse texture of the shredded meat (which reminded us of homemade dog food) was just too much work for lazy cats accustomed to easy-to-eat pates or finer shreds.
The Cat Food Delivery Winners
The favorite cat food delivery brand for our first group 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. The first group also enjoyed all of the Nom Nom and Smalls options, with some variations in individual enjoyment levels based mostly on the product’s texture.
For the second group of cats, the Cat Person tuna shreds in broth was a unanimous “yes!” They also dug into the Cat Person kibble.
However, given cats’ notoriously finicky eating preferences, who really knows? If you want to get your own cat’s opinion, the good news is that all of these foods are available for delivery in small amounts for testing, so you can see if any of them catch on with your cat.
What About Fresh Raw Food for Cats?
While none of the fresh foods tested were raw foods, raw diets for cats are also very popular, and there are several raw cat 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:
More Food Delivery Services for Cats
While we didn’t get to test them ourselves, here are a few other brands that offer 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.
Some local pet stores, such as Marty’s Meals in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Natural Pet Pantry in the greater Seattle area, 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, these could also be a good option for you.