In short I consider Hills Science Diet Prescription Diet Cat food to be a lower quality food, marketed cleverly through veterinarians offices, loaded with ingredients that are known to be dangerous to pets, and sold at an over inflated price. In this review we will cover their c/d Dry food, as marketed for urinary tract health.
The long and the short of it is that this food is suppose to be good for cats who suffer from lower urinary tract problems. There are several dietary, contributing facts to cats developing this problem, one is moisture intake, one is high calcium intake, and the other is too much magnesium.
It should be noted that at one time people considered “Ash” as the contributing factor, however Ash is where the minerals are found, including magnesium.
Cats are true carnivores, they need a good meat source in their food, and it should always be the top ingredient. Sadly this food has no real meat source, the closest thing to meat is Chicken By-Product Meal, and that is the second ingredient, after Brewers Rice.
Let us ignore the obvious problem of rice as a main ingredient and skip to the chicken by-products. Chicken by-products can feet, egg shell, intestines, even cancerous tumors, and to a lesser extent, feathers. Although cats fending for themselves would eat these parts, they would also eat a considerable amount of meat, and it is the meat that this food does not even use. An actual meat source would be something like Chicken Meal.
To make matters worse, by-products are preserved with Ethoxyquin, a dangerous chemical pesticide linked to many health problems in pets. It is considered part of the by-product and as such is not listed on the ingredient list. Ethoxyquin is banned from use in some countries (such as Japan) due to its risks. You will note we do not use this to preserve human food.
Now back to the rice. Brewers rice is a cheap carbohydrate, it does not contain nearly the nutritional goodness of whole grain brown rice. It is a common allergen in cats. Rice, of any kind, should never be a top ingredient in a cat food. In effect brewers rice is the left over parts of rice after making beer, and it may contain hops. So basically the first thing a cat is eating is something cats shouldn’t be eating at all.
The third ingredient is Corn Gluten meal. Again this is a cheap filler, and one that causes allergies in some cats. While corn really shouldn’t be in any cat food, it certainly should not be in the top three ingredients, and Corn Gluten Meal of all things isn’t even full corn, its the waste left over in making corn syrup. There isn’t even any corn bran. Corn meal, also not great for cats, but as it contains the bran it is considerably better than Corn Gluten meal.
As we skip through the ingredient list we see things like Chicken Liver Flavor.. and wonder why not just use actual Chicken liver, at least that would be meat. I guess they have to put something in the food to encourage pets to eat it. This would explain the Pork fat.
At the bottom of the ingredient list we see the cheap preservatives BHT, and BHA. Again these are not used in the better foods and have been linked to various health problems in pets. Oddly enough, among other things, both are linked to cancer in the urinary tract system.
When Hills started making pet food it was quite high quality but as of 1976 when they were purchased by Colgage Palmolive the quality declined in many peoples opinion.
Would I feed this food to my cats?
Not on your life. In fact I am not fond of any of the Hills products. For the most part they are highly over priced for the quality, having pumped money into getting veterinarians to endorse and promote the food. No doubt about it, this food is cleverly marketed, but an educated eye can pin point problems in the ingredients list at a glance.
I want to assure people who are feeding this food at their veterinarians suggestion, that their vet is likely innocent and unaware of how poor this food is. For the most part they are not pet nutritionists, and have been told by Hills reps for years how wonderful this food is and that it is the only food they should promote. They rarely get any education on ingredients other than that from the Hills representative, who typically come with lots of promotional gifts (mugs, shirts, even scholarships) to encourage loyalty from vet students in training.
Most premium cat foods (none of which are sold in grocery, or department stores) with quality ingredients and a low magnesium content (below 0.08% ) will help. Look for foods with a good meat source, and no by-products, no cheap filler, and no cheap preservatives. Find a food that uses human grade ingredients. You may even find a much better food at a lower cost.
Additionally help your cat increase its water intake, keep water fresh at all times, use a stainless steel, or ceramic bowl. A cat with urinary tract problems should also be offered a small amount of canned food at least twice a day, with water added to make a soup, as this will help keep its urinary system healthy.
Overall I would rate Hills Science Diet c/d as a 4 out of 10 – a very overpriced food for its poor quality.
photo source (NOT my cats)
Crude Protein: 30% min.
Brewers Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Pork Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Chicken Liver Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Sulfate, Iodized Salt, Vitamin E Supplement, vitamins (L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), preserved with BHT and BHA, Beta-Carotene.
Other Cat Food Reviews – From Worst to Best of currently Reviewed Foods (there are better there are worse)