I have a finicky eater on my hands. I’m not going to embarrass myself by admitting how many times we’ve been to the vet because of a hunger strike, only to find out that there’s nothing wrong. Sparrow just decides from time to time, that he doesn’t like what’s on the menu. Sigh.
So it was just another routine ‘your cat has tricked you again’ visit when one of the nurses pointed to a shelf and said: “I’ve never met a cat who doesn’t like that stuff”. She was pointing at the Hill’s Science Diet For Cats range.
At a Glance
- What: Hill’s Science Diet Feline
- Who: Hill’s Pet Nutrition – a trusted brand since 1939
- Best Price: Amazon.com
- Does Sparrow approve? He eats the stuff. I have my reservations
Who is This Hill Character?
I don’t know. According to the blurb on their website, the Hill’s pet food lines were first developed in 1939 by a Dr Mark L. Morris Sr. He was a visionary vet who believed that health concerns in pets could be managed with carefully constructed nutrition. Dr Morris developed the first prescription food for dogs, to address kidney problems in a guide dog named Buddy. That was the first pet food designed for kidney health, and shortly after that Hill’s Pet Nutrition was born and the field of clinical nutrition took on a life of its own.
The Hill’s pet food line comes in three different varieties:
- Prescription Diet – to address specific health conditions in pets.
- Science Diet – to meet the needs of healthy pets during various life stages.
- Ideal Balance – made with natural ingredients to provide the perfect balance of nutrition.
What’s a Science Diet?
The Hill’s Science Diet Feline range is specifically designed to support the needs and nutrition of healthy cats throughout the various stages of their lives. There are diets tailored for cats of all ages – kittens, adults, mature age and seniors – as well as diets targeting common health concerns. For the sake of this review, I’m just going to be talking about dry food diets for adult cats aged 1-6, because that’s what I know. There are 9 different Science Diet products available for adult cats. They are:
- Hairball Control – to help avoid hairball troubles.
- Indoor – for cats with an indoor lifestyle.
- Adult Light – for a light, healthy lifestyle.
- Optimal Care – balanced, easy to digest nutrition.
- Oral Care – to support healthy mouth and teeth.
- Adult Perfect Weight – helps cats achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Sensitive Stomach & Skin – for sensitive digestive systems and to support a healthy skin and coat.
- Urinary Hairball Control – to support the health of the entire urinary system.
- VetEssentials Feline adult – preventative nutrition focused on 5 key health benefits.
The theory is that feeding your cat a diet specifically addressing his age and health concern will improve kitty’s quality of life and help to lessen the effects of said health concerns.
Why Should You Try it?
To be perfectly honest, the natural sceptic in me wanted to push the bullshit button on this at first. This stuff has a high price tag, some slick marketing and what looks to me like a questionable list of ingredients, especially for an asthmatic cat.
However, my finicky eater loves the stuff no matter what variety I’ve given him, and I am in no position to argue about what he will and will not eat. I always lose those arguments anyway.
I can see the value in some of their more obvious formulas – the weight management varieties are lower in calories and the hairball control formula is higher in natural fibre to reduce hairballs, for example.
Most of their adult formulas are free of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives and boast “clinically proven antioxidant benefits”, whatever that means. There’s obviously a lot of thought and research that goes into developing such a comprehensive range and Hill’s is what many vets feed their own pets. Plus, cats seem to like it, even little Mr Sparrow Fussy-Face.
I’m not overly fond of their long list of ingredients – most of the Science Diet Adult range lists whole grain wheat, corn gluten meal, brewer’s rice and wheat gluten pretty high up. As I’ve discussed briefly, asthmatic cats do best on a diet low in grains and high in good, natural protein.
There’s some debate as to whether specifically formulated ‘vet approved’ diets are all they’re cracked up to be. Generally, you do get what you pay for in terms of quality, but sometimes the most expensive is not necessarily the best. Hills have positioned themselves with some important sounding words in their brand names and a high ticket price, which might sway some people into blindly trusting without doing proper research.
Does Sparrow Approve?
Sparrow is the pickiest of picky eaters, so I’ve tried a lot of different foods in the year and a half of his life. We’ve had 3 different Hill’s products and he got through most of each bag before he went on a protest hunger strike. I give away a lot of cat food because Sparrow has decided to turn into a picky princess, but he seems to really like this stuff. I’m not 100% sold on the fact that their prescription diets are necessary, but I have no basis for that other than my own cynicism. The science diets appear to be sensible enough and I have a happy, healthy shiny young cat to prove it. Being a bit of a hippy weirdo, I’d prefer to see him eating something a bit more natural with the same balanced nutrition, but really…you think I’m going to argue with a cat?
Does your kitty eat Hill’s? Tell us what you think in the comments below…