NEW YORK — Smalls, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) fresh cat food brand, announced March 28 it has raised $19 million in its most recent funding round. The funding round was led by Companion Fund and received participation from Left Lane Capital, Valor Capital, 301 INC  General Mills’ venture capital project —  Founder Collective and Ohio State University’s endowment fund.

Launched in 2017, Smalls seeks to change the way people feed their cats by offering high-protein, human-grade fresh formulas. According to the brand, cats’ health and nutritional needs have long been treated secondary to those of dogs, with many brands tailoring their products to canine needs.

“Cats have been chronically underserved and underinvested in, despite there being cats in 25% of US households,” said Matt Michaelson, co-founder and chief executive officer of Smalls. “Smalls is committed to investing exclusively in cats so we can continue to bring innovation to a customer in dire need of healthier products.”

Smalls formulates its diets using a cat-first approachSource: Smalls

Though the United States has been typically believed to be a dog-centric country, pet ownership trends are demonstrating otherwise. According to David Sprinkle of Packaged Facts, who presented on the firm’s “US Pet Market Outlook 2023” during Global Pet Expo 2023, there has been an incremental but steady decline in dog-owning households, whereas cat and other pet ownership has continued to rise. From 2018 to 2022, the rate of dog-owning households decreased from 42% to 38%, while cat-owning households increased from 23% to 24%. Cat is now representing a growth market for the pet food and pet supplies industry.

The pet industry is expected to surpass more than $277 billion in sales by 2023, according to Smalls, with pet parents continuing to invest in more premium, tailored and functional nutrition. Smalls hopes to capitalize on this movement, which shows no signs of slowing, by providing more personalized nutrition to the more than 45.3 million cat parents throughout the United States.

“What set Smalls apart is their unwavering dedication to improving feline health and wellbeing,” said Cindy Cole, DVM, technical partner at Companion Fund. “Cats are notoriously picky customers, but Smalls has cracked the code on creating fresh, minimally processed meal food plans that cats love, and we are excited to be part of their growth story.”

Smalls plans to use the funds to further its cat-first mission, focusing on more humane and sustainable nutrition. The investment will support the brand as it seeks to make its first foray into in-store retail and increase its product offerings. The brand will also expand its personnel by nearly 25%.

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