Hill’s Cat Food Review14 min read
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The Hill’s name covers several different brands of cat food, all of which are specialty diets primarily sold by veterinary offices. According to the brand’s website, the Hill’s company’s mission is to enrich and lengthen the special relationship between people and their pets.
They believe in high-quality ingredients and balanced nutrition as the secret to a long and healthy life for pets.
Though Hill’s offers a wide variety of products and the company seems to value quality, an in-depth review of several recipes and common ingredients leaves much to be desired.
We cannot whole-heartedly recommend this brand of cat food unless it comes with an explicit veterinary recommendation. Read on to learn why.
- How We Review Cat Food Brands
- Overview of the Hill’s Brand
- What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?
- Hill’s Ideal Balance Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult Dry Food
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Food
- Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Food
- What Do Customers Think of Hill’s Cat Food?
- Product Recall History
- How Much Does Hill’s Cat Food Cost?
- Where Can You Buy Hill’s Cat Food?
- Our Final Thoughts: Is Hill’s a Good Cat Food?
How We Review Cat Food Brands
Cats are obligate carnivores which means that they have a biological requirement for meat in their diet. This being the case, cat foods made with a high percentage of carbohydrates are not ideal.
When reviewing cat food brands, we heavily favor those that use high-quality animal-based proteins as the first ingredient in their recipes with a low percentage of plant products (including plant protein).
Here are some of the other things we look for in a good cat food brand:
- High-quality animal protein as the first ingredient
- Rich in healthy animal fats (ex: chicken fat or salmon oil)
- Few to no carbohydrate ingredients (especially within the top 5)
- Limited number of main ingredients plus supplements
- No low-quality fillers, grains, or by-products
Other factors we consider when reviewing cat food brands include the variety of recipes available, the price per pound, the recall history of the brand, the availability, and customer reviews.
Variety is important because cats tend to be picky and recall history is a good way to gauge the brand’s quality and safety as a whole while customer reviews provide insight into the brand’s quality and popularity.
Overview of the Hill’s Brand
The Hill’s company was founded in the 1930s by Morris Frank, a blind young man who was touring the country with Buddy, his guide dog.
It eventually became clear that Buddy was suffering from kidney failure, so Frank sought help from Dr. Mark Morris Sr. It was Dr. Morris’ opinion that Buddy’s issues were a result of poor nutrition, so he worked to develop a new line of pet food designed to improve the lives of pets with certain health problems.
According to the brand website, Hill’s is a leader in veterinary research and innovation, particularly when it comes to pet nutrition. The company employs more than 200 veterinarians, Ph.D. nutritionists, and food scientists to develop their products. These products are formulated to deliver the optimal balance of nutrients with the best possible taste while avoiding excess nutrients like fat and salt.
The Hill’s brand encompasses three different lines of cat food: Hill’s Science Diet, Hill’s Prescription Diet, and Hill’s Healthy Advantage. They also offer a few recipes under the Ideal Balance name.
Hill’s Prescription Diet cat foods are designed to address specific health problems and require a veterinarian’s prescription to purchase. The other brands are vet-recommended but no prescription is required.
What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?
Within its numerous product lines, Hill’s sells a wide variety of prescription and veterinarian-recommended cat foods. They offer a large selection of dry foods and wet foods designed to address all kinds of issues from obesity to kidney disease. Hills currently offers dozens of different products, many of which can be found online, in stores, or in veterinary offices.
Products Included in This Review
|Name||Type||Protein %||Fat %||Top 5 Ingredients|
|Hill’s Ideal Balance Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult Dry Food||Dry||28%||19%||Chicken, yellow peas, chicken fat, cracked pearled barley, egg product|
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Food||Dry||31%||13%||Chicken, whole grain wheat, corn gluten meal, powdered cellulose, chicken fat|
|Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Food||Wet||4%||3%||Water, chicken, pork liver, carrots, rice|
This dry food formula is recommended for adult cats between 1 and 6 years of age. It features fresh chicken as the #1 ingredient and a natural source of lean, real meat protein. It also contains egg and chicken meal as supplementary sources of animal-based protein.
This recipe contains healthy fats int eh form of chicken fat and fish oil, both of which provide a concentrated source of energy and a balance of omega fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat.
You’ll also be glad to know that this recipe is fortified with essential nutrients but also contains fresh vegetables like carrots and broccoli to provide natural sources for important nutrients your cat needs for balanced nutrition.
Formulated for indoor adult cats, this recipe features real chicken as the first ingredient with chicken meal later down on the list for supplementary protein. Overall, this recipe provides 31% protein, but it is important to note that after the first ingredient, the next three are low-quality grains and fillers.
Whole grain wheat is a nutritious ingredient for humans but offers little nutritional value for cats, plus it is hard to digest. The same goes for corn gluten meal, often used in low-quality cat foods as a source of plant-based protein.
This recipe does contain vitamins and mineral supplements as well as some fresh fruits and vegetables, but those ingredients appear at the end of the list so they may not be present in any quantity significant enough to actually affect the quality of the product.
This product is only available with a veterinarian’s prescription and it is designed to support the health and nutrition of cats suffering from kidney problems.
This recipe features chicken and pork liver as the main sources of protein with digestible carbohydrates in the form of carrots, rice, and rice starch. According to the brand’s description, this recipe proteins vital kidney and heart function while boosting vitality and energy.
Based on our analysis of the ingredients, however, we question how good this product actually is. It contains several plant proteins, an unnamed source of animal fat, several added flavors, and the supplements are not chelated for improved absorption.
What Do Customers Think of Hill’s Cat Food?
Judging from customer reviews on Chewy, consumers are very pleased with the Hill’s brand and its different product lines. Many customers comment that the brand is received well by cats who are picky eaters and by those suffering from common health conditions like kidney disease and diabetes. There are some comments about cats turning up their noses at the product, but that happens with any brand.
Positive Customer Reviews
“My Siamese used to vomit almost daily due to food intolerance. I tried many different brands until my vet recommended Hill’s Ideal Balance. Now my Siamese rarely vomits, maybe once every month or two.”
– TPeter, reviewing Hill’s Ideal Balance Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Adult Dry Food
“When I adopted my tuxedo boys, I immediately started them with science diet indoor for kittens. Then when they turned 1 year old, we upgraded to this indoor adult formula. Their fur is so silky and velvety, and their vet is so impressed with how healthy my boys are.”
– Marisa, reviewing Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Food
“My older cat was recently diagnosed with some kidney problems and now needs to eat a prescription diet. I looked for the best price for Hill’s Prescription diet and found it on Chewy.com. It was delivered to my door the next day! She loves the kidney care chicken and vegetables. Vet check after two weeks on this diet shows that her condition has already improved!”
Negative Customer Reviews
“I ordered this food because of the small kibble size. However, my cats won’t eat it, even when I mix it with wet food. They eat around the dry parts.”
– Catbrarian, reviewing Hill’s Ideal Balance Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Adult Dry Food
“My cats love this but this has too much carbs. Hill’s has a great marketing tactic and the quality is decent for the price but since checking out their ingredient list, I am avoiding them altogether because cats need animal protein and animal fat, NOT grains and plant-based fat.”
– Joanne, reviewing Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Food
“I bought both types of the kidney diet and my cat smells it and walks away. She is a small cat 8 pounds at 4 years old, so she can not afford to lose any weight. I am very disappointed, I wasted almost 80 dollars on food my cat will not eat.”
– Purrfect73, reviewing Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Food
Product Recall History
The Hill’s brand has been around since the 1930s when commercial pet food products were still relatively new. It should come as no surprise, then, that the brand has had a few recalls over the years. Hill’s has had five different recalls over the years, some of which were quite significant. Here is a quick overview of those recalls:
- January 2019 (Elevated levels of Vitamin D) – Over 2 dozen products belonging to the Hill’s Prescription Diet and Hill’s Science Diet lines of dog food were affected.
- November 2015 (Labeling issues) – Seven dog food recipes were withdrawn for labeling issues.
- June 2014 (Potential for salmonella) – A limited run of Science Diet Adult Small & Toy Breed dry dog food was recalled due to potential contamination.
- April 2007 (Melamine) – Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry cat food was recalled.
- March 2007 (Melamine) – Five recipes of Science Diet wet cat food were recalled.
For more information about Hill’s cat food products that have been recalled, check out the Frequently Asked Questions on the brand’s website.
How Much Does Hill’s Cat Food Cost?
Generally speaking, the Hill’s family of cat food brands is fairly expensive. Referring back to the three recipes reviewed above, you will remember that both dry food recipes cost more than $2.50 per pound.
This price is only slightly above average, but it is disproportionate to the quality of the products. For a price that high, you would expect to see more whole-food ingredients, higher protein content, and less fillers and artificial additives. If you’re looking for a specific prescription diet, however, Hill’s may be somewhat more affordable than other prescription or veterinary brands.
To give you a better idea how Hill’s stacks up against other cat food brands, here is a quick chart to show you some average prices:
|Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Food||Dry||Low||X||$0.90/pound|
|Friskies Classic Pate Mixed Grill Canned Food||Wet||Low||$0.07/ounce||$1.16/pound|
|Blue Buffalo Indoor Health Chicken & Brown Rice Adult Dry Cat Food||Dry||Moderate||X||$2.53/pound|
|Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Chicken Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food||Wet||Moderate||$0.36/ounce||X|
|Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken||Dry||High||X||$3.45/pound|
|Ziwi Peak New Zealand Venison Recipe Canned Cat Food||Wet||High||$1.21/ounce||X|
Where Can You Buy Hill’s Cat Food?
You can find Hill’s cat food in most major pet store chains as well as some local and regional stores. The Science Diet line of products is veterinarian-recommended, but you do not need a prescription to purchase it.
Keep in mind, however, that you WILL need a veterinarian’s prescription to purchase the Prescription Diet brand. You can find these products in many veterinary offices as well as big box pet stores. You can also shop for Hill’s products online at Chewy or Amazon.
Our Final Thoughts: Is Hill’s a Good Cat Food?
It is difficult to recommend the Hill’s family of brands as a whole because quality varies so greatly from one product line to another.
The Science Diet line of products typically includes real animal proteins, but it also makes heavy use of low-quality grains and fillers, causing us to question whether the recipes are too high in carbohydrates for cats.
The Prescription Diet line is uniquely formulated to address specific health problems but, again, we see a lot of low-quality ingredients including corn, wheat, and soy.
Because the quality of Hill’s products varies so greatly from one recipe to another, the best we can say is that this is a mid-quality brand.
It is far from being the worst cat food brand out there, but we see no reason to choose Hill’s cat food specifically when there are better brands out there at a similar or lower price point. All you have to do is a little research.
If you find yourself in the position of needing a prescription diet for your cat, think twice before buying whatever your veterinarian recommends. Check the ingredients list for red flags and don’t assume that just because it is expensive it is good. You are the best advocate for your cat’s health, so take your responsibility seriously! Best of luck!