Hill's Ideal Balance Cat Food (Wet) Review And Nutrition Analysis

Hill’s Ideal Balance Cat Food (Wet) Review And Nutritional Analysis

Rating

2.5 Stars

  • Meat is the first ingredient - 1 Star
  • Does not use unnamed meats - 1 Star
  • Average protein content - 0.5 Star
  • More than 4 controversial ingredients - 0 Star
  • Catological Discretionary Rating - 0 Star

BUYING TIP

Here’s a few important points:

  • Meat is the first ingredient
  • There is an abundance of fillers, from rice to potatoes to oats to peas
  • The macronutrient profile is not great, with low protein and high carbohydrates
  • Includes added vitamins and minerals
  • The Hill’s website shows a dry-matter basis much different than what we calculated using the Guaranteed Analysis posted on the Chewy website. We are using the Hill’s information in this review, rather than our usual calculation. Unfortunately a Guaranteed Analysis is not readily available on the Hill’s site to compare with the information on Chewy.com.

Hill’s Ideal Balance product line includes 2 wet recipes/flavors.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage or packaging: Growth (G), Maintenance (M), All Life Stages (A), Supplemental (S) or Unspecified (U).

The star rating is a rough average of all of the flavors in a single line of food. If an individual recipe scored lower or higher, we will mark that below, next to the flavor.

  • Hill’s Ideal Balance Chicken (M)
  • Hill’s Ideal Balance Turkey (M)

hills ideal balance wet cat food can

Hill’s Ideal Balance Chicken was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Hill's Ideal Balance Chicken 

Wet Cat Food

Estimated Nutrient Content

Method

Protein

Fat

Carbs

Guaranteed Analysis

8%

4%

NA

Dry Matter Basis

44%

21%

27%

Calorie Weighted Basis

41%

49%

10%

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

44%
Protein
21%
Fat
27%
Carbs

Fiber (guaranteed analysis):

2.6%

Calories/100g:

97

Is real, named meat the first ingredient?

Yes

INGREDIENTS: Chicken Broth, Chicken, Pork Liver, Brown Rice, Carrots, Pork Plasma, Potato Starch, Modified Rice Starch, Spinach, Egg Whites, Dextrose, Oat Fiber, Pea Protein, Pea Fiber, Chicken Liver Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Phosphate, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin A Acetate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K3)), Taurine, Guar Gum, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide), Choline Chloride, Caramel color, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Beta Carotene.

Ingredients in red are controversial or of questionable quality.

Ingredient Breakdown

The first ingredient in this cat food is chicken broth. Good.

Instead of using water for processing, chicken broth is added for moisture.

Broth may contain vitamins and nutrients from the original animal (chicken, in this case), that water would lack.

This is usually a sign of a high quality food.

The second ingredient is chicken. Good.

While quality of the individual ingredient can vary, chicken is a very good protein source for cats.

It’s also important to note that chicken contains about 70% water, so when it is processed and cooked for use in cat food, it will become a smaller part of the total recipe.

The third ingredient is pork liver. Good.

Liver is a high quality organ meat that cats would typically eat in the wild to get protein and important micronutrients.

Pork is not an animal cats would eat in the wild, but overall this is likely a fine addition to the recipe.

The fourth ingredient is brown rice. Bad.

It may be slightly better than corn in some areas, but rice is simply not biologically appropriate for cats.

It is a filler ingredient.

Studies hypothesize that rice may decrease taurine absorption in cats, leading to taurine deficiency, a dangerous ailment.

The fifth ingredient is carrots. Good.

The beta carotene in carrots turns into vitamin A, which is a useful antioxidant compound.

However, cats can’t turn much beta carotene into vitamin A like we can, so much of it is stored for growth or cell reprouction.

Therefore, carrots are most useful for kittens or senior cats.

The sixth ingredient is pork plasma. Good.

Plasma, or blood with red blood cells removed, is a gelling agent or thickener.

It is a more biologically appropriate ingredient than wheat gluten or other plant materials.

It may have some benefits for digestibility, and makes the food taste and feel better to cats.

The seventh ingredient is potato starch. Bad.

This is typically used as filler in grain-free recipes.

It is not biologically appropriate and may cause digestive upset.

The eighth ingredient is modified rice starch. Bad.

Rice starch is usually used as a gelling agent. Rice is a carbohydrate that is not great for cats.

It may be slightly better than corn in some areas, but rice is simply not biologically appropriate for cats.

It is a filler ingredient.

Studies hypothesize that rice may decrease taurine absorption in cats, leading to taurine deficiency, a dangerous ailment.

This recipe includes a number of other ingredients, but once you get down this far, none of them will be in large enough quantities to make a real difference, except for the added vitamins and minerals. 

However, there are still a few things you should know.

This recipe contains dextrose, which is a crystallized form of glucose. Sugar, in other words.

There is no reason for sugar to be in any cat food. Cat’s don’t really taste sweet. Therefore, it may be included as an anti-browning ingredient. 

It is only likely to increase carbohydrate intake and cause obesity.

Sugar should never be in a cat food. 

Oat fiber is generally a good source of fiber and energy for humans and even other animals, but grains are not biologically appropriate for cats.

We believe that oats of any kind have no place in a recipe that looks to mirror natural feline diets.

There are better options for fiber, like pumpkin or coconut.

Pea protein is a concentrated form of the protein found in peas. The inclusion of this ingredient means the actual meat content of this food may be lower than the macronutrient profile suggests, since the protein will appear higher due to this plant-based protein booster. Peas are not biologically appropriate for cats.

Pea fiber is high in insoluble fiber. It is not a biologically appropriate ingredient for cats, and is a filler ingredient to boost fiber content.

Guar gum comes from guar beans, and is a thickening agent.

In small quantities, like those in cat food, it should be a harmless ingredient.

However, some research has shown that including guar gum in a commercial cat food “had a significant negative effect on apparent protein digestibility in many of the cats and tended to depress apparent fat and energy digestibilities.”

While not heavily substantiated beyond this study, it might mean your cat needs to eat more protein to make up for the lower digestibility.

It also has added caramel color. There is no reason for a cat food to be colored, except to make it appeal to cat parents. Your cat does not care what color her food is.

Since it is 100% marketing gimmick, it is unnecessary, and usually the sign of a cheap cat food.

Many coloring options, such as caramel, are potential carcinogens, or otherwise potentially harmful for your cat.

To read a more in depth article about any of the ingredients listed here, check out our Cat Food Ingredient Wiki (currently under development).

The Catological Verdict on Hill’s Ideal Balance Wet Cat Food

From top to bottom, this is a below average food.

Meat is the first ingredient, but there is obviously not a ton in the recipe.

Even with a plant-boosting protein included, this still doesn’t have enough protein.

Fillers are plentiful, and range from oats to rice to peas to potatoes.

The macronutrient profile of this food is not great, showing low-average protein content and above average carbohydrate content. Both of those things are not healthy for your cat.

This is NOT a good example of a wet food you should be feeding your cat.

Since it’s clear that plant products make up too much of this food, we can assume that this is a mixed meat- and plant-based food, which is not ideal for your carnivorous feline’s dietary needs.

To review, on a dry matter basis, this food is 44% protein, 21% fat, and 27% carbs.

As a group, the brand has an average protein content of 44%, and average fat content of 23%, and an average carb content of 26%.

Compared to the other 2000+ foods in our database, this food has:

  • Average protein.
  • Average fat.
  • Above average carbs.

Because it meat is the first ingredient, but it is full of fillers, our rating for this brand is 2.5 stars.

Not recommended.

Hill’s Cat Food Recall History

We do not believe that a recall indicates a low quality food or company, and we respect the fact that sometimes things happen that cause a manufacturer to recall a food.

Usually these things are non-life-threatening, and we think it’s important to take a moment to be thankful about just how few recalls there really are in the industry, considering the enormous volume of food produced.

However, we do believe that a history of recalls may point to a larger issue with a company, and that discerning consumers want to know who they’re buying from, especially when it comes to something as important as the food you feed your beloved cat. 

Here is a list of recalls that have affected the Hill’s brand in the past:

  • May 2016 – High iron levels – UK and Russian products affected
  • November 2015 (“Withdrawal”, not Recall) – Labeling issues – Multiple dog recipes affected
  • June 2014 – Possible salmonella – 1 recipe affected
  • April 2007 – Melamine – 1 recipe affected
  • March 2007 – Melamine – Multiple cat food recipes affected

If you want to stay up to date on the latest recall information affecting your cat’s food, sign up to our email list and receive an email every time a recall is announced. We’ll also let you know about any updated ratings, recipe changes, or new cat foods on the market. (Our alert system will be launched shortly, check back soon.)

Where To Buy Hill’s Ideal Balance Wet Cat Food

We recommend purchasing your pet products from Chewy.com. They continually prove that they walk the walk while talking the talk, and I’ve never dealt with a more dedicated pet-parent base of people than those who work at Chewy. 

Plus, they offer 20% off and free shipping on lots of orders. 

Not Convinced?

Check out our ratings and reviews of the best cat foods in our comprehensive, data-backed guide right here.

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Curt Storring
 

Curt is the founder and editor of Catological. He believes natural solutions are better than the alternative, and believes cats should eat a biologically-appropriate, protein-rich, low-carb diet. He's determined to bring you the best, most accurate information and product recommendations so you can help your cat live it's best life by providing it with the things it needs to be happy, healthy, and environmentally friendly.

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