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Both here and elsewhere in the big bad cat food world, I’ve heard people asking why there’s such a deficit of smaller-sized cat food samples. I mean, our cats are picky, finicky eaters; what suits one disgusts another. Why not buy smaller bags, test them out, and then dole out wads of cash for that premium bag of noms?
Fortunately, these cat food samples exist. Unfortunately, they’re kind of hard to find out in the real world.
What do I mean?
Well, you *can* find free, high quality cat food samples out there, but it’s rare. In my research, many people posted that they get free samples in excess at pet shows. I found some once at a very small pet food store, and the owner was kind enough to provide me with quite a large assortment of freebies. They were big too, definitely enough for a couple of servings.
Online, however, this can be quite a bit more challenging. There are some companies that sell their samples for super cheap prices, like $1 a pack. There are many others that offer smaller, multiple pound bags for reduced rates. Since some of these companies normally price for hefty sums, I still find smaller bags (up to 4 pounds in some cases) to count as somewhat trial-sized servings.
Yes, I understand that 4 lbs of cat food means there could be plenty of waste when/if Fluffy turns her nose up, but I still think that 4 lbs is a better introductory amount than 15 lbs, 20, or more.
So, here we go! After extensive, eye-burning research, these are the companies I found that supply cat food samples, of varying size, around the web.
All prices are accurate as of 7/27/2013. If they change, please post a comment below!
A note on pricing: these foods are all provided through different pet food retailers. Although some offer discounted shipping and handling for sample orders and others offer discounts for over a certain price, be sure to check the S&H before ordering. I wish it was easier to try these foods without paying exorbitant shipping prices, but it isn’t always possible!
I have, however, added images and links to all of these products on Amazon, when applicable. Amazon does not always sell the cat food sample sizes, but it is a great place to read reviews!
This is one of the most popular grain-free cat food brands on the market, and has some of the highest customer reviews on Amazon. Unfortunately, Felidae is also rather expensive. Before dropping loads of cash, I suggest acquiring a smaller bag, like their 4 lb bag of grain-free salmon. It’s for sale on Amazon at $12.98.
What’s so special about this brand? Not only is it grain-free, but this is one of the few human-grade cat food companies out there. Felidae buyers are die-hard devotees; try this stuff whenever you get the chance!
2. Iams Premium Protection
Although I personally try to avoid major supermarket-quality cat foods, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth a shot for your cat. Honestly, Iams is one of the most sample-friendly brands out there. You can even find their sample packs in big box stores like Target and sometimes Walmart.
3. Purina Pro Plan
Again, Purina is a brand I tend to avoid. When Henry and I find ourselves in dire financial straits, we do occasionally use this brand, but it’s not the norm.
However, Purina does offer smaller sized packages, like their 3.5 lb bag, for $10.00 and up. Plus, many of these are specific to your pet’s needs, including sensitive skin and stomachs, weight management, urinary tract health, long coats, and a naturals line.
4. Newman’s Own
One of the few organic pet food brands that sell sample packs, Newman’s Own doesn’t offer too much variation. I found their Chicken and Rice in 1 lb bags for $4.56. That’s definitely a hefty price-per-pound, and is around double the price at which they sell their 4.75 lbs bag ($14.69).
Still, $7 lost is less than $15, and it’s a very popular, highly adored brand.
5. Hill’s Ideal Balance
Alright, so this might not be the all-time best cat food ever, but it is very popular, highly reviewed, and even my vet-tech sister-in-law feeds this brand to her pooptacular pups. Hill’s is a trusted brand, and they’re pretty stringent about food quality. For example, there’s no corn, wheat, or soy, and no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives. Plus, you can snag 3.5 lbs for $9.99.
Want to go grain-free? Try Hill’s Ideal Balance Grain-Free line. Get the 5-star rated 2 lb bag for $14.46 on Amazon!
6. Addiction Pet Foods Viva la Venison
So, Viva La Venison is a totally new brand for me. I found it while scrounging up smaller sized cat food bags out there, and was shocked by the RAVE reviews. Apparently, this food is great for cats with allergies to poultry, seafood, or grains. Plus, kitties with tummy troubles seem to fare extremely well with this brand. Multiple reviewers tell of finicky cats who’ve gone through brand after brand only to fall in love with this one.
Those reviews are enough for me! Even though the smallest package available for sale is 4 lbs, it’s a huge discount off the over $76 price tag for the 20 lb bag.
I highly recommend trying this food for sensitive kitties. Start with 4 lbs, see how it goes, and let us know!
7. Flint River Ranch Cat Food Sample
This is an interesting, smaller-run cat food company than many of the other ones listed here. There aren’t too many reviews on Amazon, except one that said the cat was picky about transitioning off of corn-based cat foods. But, as we all know, cats are picky.
This is another human-grade cat food, and they’re serious about quality. From free-roaming chickens to mercury-free trout, you can feel confident about your kitty’s kibbles.
Plus, they’re selling ALL of their samples for half-off with free shipping on their website! That means, at least for the time being, that you can snag 7 3-oz packages of their grain-free cat food for $6. Otherwise, you’re looking at $9.99 on Amazon!
By The Way: There is also a mixed pet food sample, which very oddly adds one cat food sample to an otherwise dog food-only bag. It is only $4.49 though, and would be a great way to try out these foods in a multi-species household!
8. Evolution Vegan Cat Food
Hey, I’m not the one to judge anyone else’s ethical choices. Well, I might do it privately, but the final decision rests in the hands of the individual.
Many people believe that vegan cat food goes against the animal’s specific dietary and health needs. Others find that vegan cat food works well for their pet, especially females.
If you’re someone interested in providing a vegan cat food for your pet, Evolution does sell 1 lb sample bags for the reasonable price of $3.49.
Plus, they do come in fun flavors, like Veggie Cheezburger and Gourmet Pasta, and you know for sure that there are no animal products in those bags whatsoever!
Like Felidae, Orijen is one of those super well-loved grain-free dry cat food brands out there that normally run at pretty high retail costs. They call it “biologically appropriate,” as each ingredient is added specifically for the unique needs of our fantastic feline friends.
That definitely beats their next smallest bag, 5 lbs for $27. Just be careful to watch for high shipping costs with this one!
UPDATE 10/27/2015: Amazon does now carry 12 oz bags of Orijen samples!
Personally, I’ve never used Acana, and I hadn’t even heard about it before I started doing research for this post. But, I really like what I saw.
“I bought Acana Pacifica cat and dog food for our cat and dog. They were both raised on Science Diet. I thought SD was a good brand. I’ve noticed my cat eats substantially less with Acana, not because he doesn’t like it, which he does, but because Acana seems to keep him satisfied longer. Also, his kitty litter doesn’t smell anywhere near as bad as it did with SD.”
Better nutrition requires less food and results in healthier poops. That review alone’s convinced me to try it out on Henry, notoriously poopy, the next time I get a chance!
Plus, you can buy real samples for this one: 0.88 lb for $3.99 on Amazon (plus shipping through PawNaturals.com). Check it out!
11. Dr. Harvey’s Oracle
So, this food is certainly different from the other ones here. Like many it is grain-free, but unlike others it is a freeze-dried, raw cat food. That means that those small bags will feel lighter, cost more, but last longer as you must rehydrate the food before serving.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of rehydrating as it takes a few minutes, which then means Henry is jumping on the counter trying to eat food that isn’t ready yet. But, this is complete nutrition, and many people swear by raw diets like this.
But is 1.5 oz too little?
Well, kind of. Because you’re paying for the pure weight of dehydrated meats and veggies, those bags go pretty far. For example, Dr. Harvey’s says that a 21 oz bag will feed a 7-9 lb cat for 14 days. That would make this 1.5 oz serving appropriate for one day of feeding for one 7-9 lb cat. But hopefully, that one serving will show you immediately if Snowball likes this kind of food!
12. The Honest Kitchen
Alright, so personally, I am not a huge fan of The Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated cat food. Yes, it’s gluten-free, 70% protein, and allows for some moisture-packed meals (great for male cats), but Henry did not like it. He wouldn’t eat it without putting up a huge fight, and his…bowel movements were super stinky.
This might just be a adjustment phase, but I wasn’t too interested in making it past the trial runs (gross pun, sorry!). We also only tried Grace, so perhaps Prowl, which often has better reviews, will be more to Henry’s liking. We’ll let you know!
But hey, many people *swear by* this stuff. It is pricey though, so their generously-priced samples are a big help.
On The Honest Kitchen’s website, you can order two different sizes: the 1 oz mini for $1 or the 4 oz pack for $3.50 in both Prowl and Grace. They do offer free shipping on orders of $95+, but you will probably have to pay to get these samples on their own.
13. Life’s Abundance
I have mixed feelings about Life’s Abundance. Granted, we haven’t tried the food ourselves, and their reviews are pretty great. I have no doubts about the quality of the food, but more about the business practices. It’s one of those “run your own home business” kinds of places, which tend to result in pushy salespeople trying to make a tight profit.
Naturally, that does not mean you would get poor customer service, bad food, or inflated fees, but it does mean that this isn’t something sold in pet stores. Take that for what you will; I just wanted to let you know.
But hey, they really do sell samples. At $1 cat food sample packs plus $2.95 shipping, that’s absolutely worth a try!
The sample packs include:
- “Instinctive Choice Premium Canned Cat Food
- Life’s Abundance Premium Dry Cat Food for Kittens & Adult Cats
- Life’s Abundance Gourmet Cat Treats For Healthy Skin & Coat”
Got some precious pups? They sell dog food sample packs, too!
14. Organix Cat Food
Made by Castor & Pollux and renowned for its high quality organics, this line of cat food is a 5-star smash-and-grab on Amazon. Cats flock the stuff, and their owners love the simplified, whole ingredients. This recipe is clean: no GMOs, no growth hormones, no by-products, no junk.
Just as good, the price-per-pound is often between $2-3 instead of $6-7 like some. This 40 oz bag, also known as 2.5 lbs, brings you all the Organix goodness for $12.99 and free super saver shipping.
Not picky about the organic label? Try Castor & Pollux’s Ultramix line of “natural” cat foods. Get 44 oz for $10.39 on Amazon!
15. Try a Whole Bunch at Once: Wysong Introductory Cat Food Packs
As always, I want to offer you a little something different in addition to the plethora of options above. Instead of merely acquiring a sample bag or two, there are some companies that sell introductory packs. Wysong is one of those.
Don’t know about Wysong? Well, you should.
Check Amazon, and you’ll find page after page of 5-star reviews for both their dog and cat foods. Heck, they actually sell food made for both dogs and cats! You can really buy one brand, pour one bowl, and feed all critters at once (click the yellow bag above to see the Amazon page).
But, you can also try out several introductory cat or dog food packs through the Wysong website. Yes, they do cost more, but they include a 5 lb bag of dry food, a bag of treats, a can of food, and several freebies. For $25.79 plus $7 shipping, that’s quite a good deal!
Want to try something a little more fierce? Try their raw food introductory pack for $56.09 plus $7 shipping.
Where to Buy in the Real World:
Live in the Pacific Northwest? We highly recommend tracking down MudBay for free samples and highly knowledgeable staff!