Food Entrepreneur NEW YORK — Smalls, a direct-to-consumer cat food brand, has raised $19 million in its most recent funding round.

Launched in 2017, Smalls seeks to change the way people feed their cats by offering high-protein, human-grade fresh formulas. Per the company, 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.”

Though the United States has been typically believed to be a dog-centric country, pet ownership trends are demonstrating otherwise. David Sprinkle of Packaged Facts, who presented on the firm’s “US Pet Market Outlook 2023” during Global Pet Expo 2023, said 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 aims 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.

The funding round was led by Companion Fund and received participation from Left Lane Capital, Valor Capital, 301 INC, Founder Collective, General Mills’ venture capital project and Ohio State University’s endowment fund.

Smalls plans to use the funds to support its first foray into in-store retail and increase its product offerings. The company will also expand its personnel team.

“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.”

Enjoying this content? Learn about more disruptive startups on the Food Entrepreneur page.