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The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Hill’s on What Matters
We’ve analyzed Hill’s and graded it according to the We’re All About Cats standard, evaluating the brand on species-appropriateness, ingredient quality, product variety, price, customer experience, and recall history. Here’s how it rates in each of those six key areas.
- Species-Appropriateness – 6/10
- Ingredient Quality – 6/10
- Product Variety – 9/10
- Price – 6/10
- Customer Experience – 8/10
- Recall History – 4/10
Overall Score: 6.5/10
We give Hill’s cat food a 39 out of 60 rating or a B- grade.
The company dates back to 1907, when Burton Hill opened up a rendering facility in Topeka, Kansas. Hill Rendering Works became the city of Topeka’s contract rendering facility and eventually added on a milling division. Along with the ability to manufacture animal feed, the company earned a new name—the Hill Packing Company.
In the late 1940s, the Hill Packing Company partnered with Dr. Mark L. Morris, a veterinarian known for formulating some of the world’s first clinical veterinary diets. The Hill Packing Company was contracted to manufacture the original formulation of Canine k/d, Dr. Morris’ diet for dogs with kidney disease.
Morris and Hill’s partnership evolved over the years and eventually became known as Hill’s Pet Nutrition. The company added on new lines, including the ever-popular Hill’s Science Diet.
In 1976, Hill’s Pet Nutrition was purchased by the Colgate-Palmolive company. Hill’s Pet Nutrition products are now sold in 86 countries around the world.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Hill’s Pet Nutrition has a robust research and development department. More than 220 veterinarians, food scientists, technicians, and Ph.D nutritionists work to develop Hill’s products.
The Hill’s Pet Nutrition Center in Topeka, Kansas is considered a world-class research facility and helps Hill’s maintain its status as a leading authority on animal nutrition.
Hill’s says that they only accept ingredients that meet their stringent quality standards. Each ingredient is examined to ensure its safety and nutritional adequacy. Most of Hill’s ingredients are sourced from North America, Europe, and New Zealand.
Hill’s cat food is manufactured in company-owned facilities located in the United States.
Has Hill’s cat food been recalled?
The following is a summary of the Hill’s cat and dog food recalls issued over the years.
In early 2019, Hills issued a recall of canned dog foods from the Science Diet and Prescription Diet lines. due to dangerously high levels of vitamin D. Excessive Vitamin D causes blood calcium levels to soar, leading to organ failure and potentially, death. This recall came two months after a series of vitamin D-related recalls affected other pet food brands, but Hill’s says they’re not aware of a connection. In light of this recall, Hill’s says they are strengthening their quality check protocol and demanding more stringent regulations from their supplier.
Following the recall, a class action suit was filed against Hill’s Pet Nutrition for selling food that contained “excessive and dangerous” levels of vitamin D.
In November, the company initiated a market withdrawal of several varieties of Science Diet dog food due to labeling issues.
Potential salmonella contamination prompted Hill’s to recall 62 bags of Science Diet dog food in California, Hawaii, and Nevada.
In April of 2007, Hill’s Science Diet was one of many pet food brands recalled due to melamine contamination.
February 2019—Hill’s is Sued Over “Prescription Diet” Claims
In February of 2019, a Kansas dog food consumer named Stevie Kucharski-Berger sued Hill’s for violating the Kansas Restraint of Trade Act and the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.
According to the plaintiff, Hill’s prescription diets do not require FDA approval or a prescription under Kansas or federal law. Because there’s nothing in the foods that legally requires a prescription, the suit argues, Hill’s’ use of the prescription diet name and the Rx prescription symbol is “false, misleading and contrary to law”. The suit accuses Hill’s of operating what Berger’s lawyer calls a “fake pharmacy” to justify the high costs of their prescription diets.
What kinds of cat food does Hill’s offer?
Hill’s has several lines of cat food, including Hill’s Science Diet, Hill’s Prescription Diet, Hill’s Healthy Advantage, and Hill’s Ideal Balance.
Science Diet emphasizes scientifically-formulated recipes that utilize what Hill’s describes as “biology-based nutrition” for all stages of cats’ lives.
Hill’s Prescription Diet is only available with a veterinarian’s prescription. Recipes in this line target health conditions and special needs, including IBD, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, urinary tract health.
Hill’s Healthy Advantage is exclusively sold through veterinarians. While Hill’s Prescription Diet foods target single health conditions, each food in this line addresses five essential health factors—immunity, weight management, urinary health, digestion, and skin and coat health.
The Ideal Balance line is made with natural ingredients and, according to Hill’s, is perfectly balanced.
Hill’s Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care with Chicken Canned||Wet||$0.37||B|
|Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare with Chicken Dry||Dry||$0.26||C|
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food||Dry||$0.14||C|
Pork by-products appear to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
This popular Hill’s recipe targets one of the most common conditions affecting cats—urinary tract disease. According to Hill’s, this prescription food reduces the recurrence of most common urinary tract disease symptoms by 89%. It addresses multiple types of urinary tract disease, including stones and infection. The company claims that the food dissolves struvite stones in as few as 7 days or an average of 27 days. In addition to dissolving existing stones and reducing recurrence, it’s also touted as a preventative. Hill’s says this diet can prevent both struvite and calcium oxalate stones.
How does Hill’s c/d achieve all of these benefits for cats with urinary tract disease? It has controlled levels of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus to reduce stone formation. Its acidity promotes a healthy urine pH.
The first ingredient in the food is pork by-products. In addition to any organ meats included in the pork by-products, the food contains pork liver. Though chicken appears in the name, chicken is not the primary protein source in this food and is the fourth ingredient on the list.
The food contains several plant ingredients, including brewers rice, corn starch, and soybean meal. It has two types of animal-sourced fat—chicken fat and fish oil both appear on the ingredient list. The food’s thickened with guar gum.
It’s supplemented with Dl-methionine as an acidifier and chicken liver flavor for added palatability.
The food has 163 calories in each 5.5-ounce can or 29 calories per ounce.
Pork By-Products, Water, Pork Liver, Chicken, Brewers Rice, Corn Starch, Soybean Meal, Chicken Liver Flavor, Chicken Fat, Fish Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Guar Gum, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dicalcium Phosphate, DL-Methionine, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine, Iodized Salt, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, L-Lysine, minerals (Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate), Beta-Carotene.
|Crude Protein||8.5% min|
|Crude Fat||3.5% min|
Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care with Chicken Canned Estimated Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Pork Liver, Chicken Chicken Fat, Fish Oil
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Brewers Rice, Corn Starch, Soybean Meal
Common Allergens: Chicken
- Primarily made from animal ingredients
- Formulated to improve urinary tract health
- Rich in protein
- Relatively high in carbohydrates
Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.
This Prescription Diet recipe is the dry equivalent of the c/d canned food above. Like the canned recipe, this recipe is formulated to support urinary health. According to Hill’s, it can lower the recurrence of most symptoms by 89% and it can promote healthy urine pH levels.
Like many other dry cat foods, this food is plant-based. Chicken is the first ingredient, followed by whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, whole grain wheat, and brewers rice.
The food contains pork fat, soybean oil, and fish oil as sources of fat. In addition to the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids typically added to make pet food nutritionally complete, the food contains Dl-methionine as an acidifier.
Overall, this dry food has low-to-moderate protein content, moderate fat, and high carbohydrate content.
This food contains 349 calories in each cup.
Chicken, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Brewers Rice, Pork Fat, Chicken Meal, Egg Product, Pork Flavor, Soybean Oil, Fish Oil, Lactic Acid, L-Lysine, Calcium Sulfate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Potassium Citrate, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Iodized Salt, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene
|Crude Protein||30% min|
|Crude Fat||13% min|
Hill’s Multicare Urinary Care c/d with Chicken Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Pork Fat, Fish Oil
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Brewers Rice
Common Allergens: Chicken
- Many reviewers say this food helped to improve their cats’ urinary tract health
- Free of artificial additives
- High in carbohydrates
- Dry food is correlated to increased risk of urinary tract disease
Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.
This Hill’s Science Diet recipe is formulated for cats who live indoors. Like most indoor cat foods, it has relatively high levels of fiber to support healthy digestion, along with what the company describes as an “exclusive blend of omega-6 fatty acids” to nourish the skin and coat.
The food’s first ingredient is chicken, followed by whole wheat, corn gluten meal, and powdered cellulose. These ingredients are primarily sources of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber, respectively. Chicken fat is added as a species-appropriate source of fat, along with soybean oil and fish oil.
To improve the food’s palatability, the recipe contains chicken liver flavor and natural flavor.
At the end of the ingredient list is a series of fruits and vegetables, including trace amounts of green peas, apples, cranberries, carrots, and broccoli.
There are 319 calories in each cup of this dry cat food.
Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken Fat, Wheat Gluten, Chicken Meal, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Soybean Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Lactic Acid, Fish Oil, Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Green Peas, Apples, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli, Beta-Carotene.
|Crude Protein||31% min|
|Crude Fat||13% min|
|Fiber||6% min, 12% max|
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Indoor Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Pork Fat
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Gluten, Soybean Oil
Common Allergens: Chicken
- Cats seem to love the food’s flavor
- Free of vaguely-named animal by-products
- Free of potentially harmful additives
- High carbohydrate content
What do customers think of Hill’s cat food?
Hill’s is one of the most respected brands in the pet food industry. It’s a staple in veterinary offices and animal shelters. The fact of the brand’s esteem has attracted some of its most vehement criticism. As we saw in the 2019 lawsuit initiated by a Kansas consumer, some feel that Hill’s food is given more respect than it deserves and uses that reputation to justify its high prices.
“My 17 year old cat has been eating this all his life (except for the first four months fraught with UTIs). Not only has he been free of urinary infections, he also is a picture of health with gorgeous teeth that have never needed to be cleaned.” – Kipling, reviewing Hill’s Prescription Diet Multicare Urinary Care c/d Dry Cat Food
“Our gal had bladder stones and was slotted for surgery when my vet suggested we try this food first. IF it didn’t work we needed to explore surgery. I started feeding my Phoebe the food and 8 weeks later…. NO STONES! Yup, i feed her both the wet and dry food exclusively and the stones disintegrated! No surgery for my gal, she will remain on this diet for life so we don’t encounter the issue again. 🙂 Again, Thank YOU Chewy for having the option to order and ship directly to my front door!” – OMCRescue, reviewing Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food
“I have purchased Hill’s in the past but not this particular kind, the nuggets are larger and my furry friends don’t like it. They are very picky and since it’s their food, I’d rather go with smaller pieces. No fault of product.” – Edwin, reviewing Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food
“Though I thoroughly enjoyed having my food delivered to my door, my cat essentially went into starvation mode because he disliked the food so severely. He would painstakingly meow until we gave him other food and when we did not, he would just lay next to his bowl. I read the ingredients for this food and although it is advertised as chicken, the first ingredient is pork. Now I’m stuck with all this cat food my cat REFUSES to eat. Such a disappointment food wise and it seems this is the only choice for urinary care.” – WestbrooksReview, reviewing Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food
How much does Hill’s cat food cost?
Hill’s cat food ranges from moderately-priced to expensive. If your cat weighs 10 lbs, it would cost roughly $3.05 per day to feed them Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d canned food and about $3.63 for Hill’s Ideal Balance canned.
Like most cat food companies, Hill’s charges less for their dry foods. The Hill’s Prescription diet kibble mentioned in the product reviews above would cost about $0.52 per day.
Overall, is Hill’s a good choice?
Hill’s is built on a foundation of industry-leading nutrition research, giving it the ability to create recipes formulated for specific health conditions and dietary needs.
While Hill’s can be a good choice for cats with health issues, it’s not the strongest candidate for a healthy cat’s daily diet. Though Hill’s says that corn, wheat, and other high-carbohydrate plant ingredients are nutritious for cats, others disagree. Whether you’re shopping for wet or dry food, Hill’s cat food tends to contain large amounts of plant ingredients that don’t fit into a carnivorous diet plan.
Where is Hill’s cat food sold?
Hill’s is sold in veterinary offices and “above-average” pet retail stores around the world. You can buy it online through Chewy, Amazon, and other retailers that sell pet food.
About the author
Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.