The Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Light is a dry cat formula claimed to fight hairball formation. According to the manufacturers, this formula is also designed to help your cat in weight loss and healthy weight maintenance.
This sounds like an excellent formula, but is it all that it’s cracked up to be?
Ingredients in hairball control light
Chicken, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Gluten, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken Liver Flavor, Whole Grain Wheat, Soybean Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Dried Beet Pulp, Lactic Acid, Pork Fat, Potassium Chloride, Fish Oil, Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, vitamins (L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite), Oat Fiber, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavors, Dried Broccoli, Dried Apples, Dried Carrots, Dried Cranberries, Dried Peas.
Reviewing the first 5 ingredients of the formula
Chicken is a very popular ingredient for pet food and in this case, they are referring to whole chicken. This is a very high quality meat source and we are pleased to see it listed. However, whole chicken loses about 80% of its content during the cooking process since the majority of whole chicken is water. After the cooking process is complete, the amount of whole chicken remaining is substantially reduced. Therefor, while whole chicken is a great source of meat protein, this ingredient alone is not enough to provide sufficient levels of meat protein in a cats diet.
Brewers rice is the small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of milled rice. It is a processed rice product that is missing many of its nutrients, but does provide a source of carbohydrates. It is a by-product of rice milling and considered a lower quality filler ingredient usually used in lower priced cat food blends. Usually, brewers rice is used to make rice flour, but if the quality is too poor for rice flour, it will then be sold to pet food or dairy feed companies. For many cats, this ingredient can cause allergies or digestion issues. Most cats will not have any problems processing this food, but it’s not one of the better ingredients, either.
Corn Gluten Meal
This is the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm. The expression “corn gluten” is colloquial jargon that describes corn proteins that are neither gliadin nor glutenin. Only wheat, barley, rye and oat contain true gluten. For the most part, this ingredient is normally only found in cheaper “grocery store brand” cat foods. Corn is frequently used as a filler ingredient to help make your cat feel more full, but it does not add much of anything to the nutritional value in the food. In addition, this is a common allergen for many cats and corn based ingredients can often be difficult for cats to digest. That’s why we can’t recommend this food for cats with food allergies or sensitive digestive systems.
We don’t think any grain is “good” for your cat. It doesn’t mean wheat gluten is “bad” for your cat, either, but the fact it provides almost no nutritional value makes us question the quality of the ingredient. Wheat gluten can be a decent protein source for animals with digestive systems that can break it down, but as obligate carnivores, cats are not one of those animals. Their digestive systems produce only the enzymes necessary for processing animal-based proteins. There are also some allergy risks associated with wheat gluten. In addition, too much of this in a cats diet can potentially lead to weight gain and diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes in cats is a very serious health problem, so it is important to keep a close eye on your cats weight and diabetic risk when feeding a cat food containing ingredients like wheat gluten.
Powdered cellulose is a cheap filler ingredient. It is obtain as a pulp from fibrous plant material and highly refined. Once processed, it looks and feels very similar to sawdust. Cellulose is used in a wide number of ways. In addition to being added to pet food, it is used quite a bit in human foods, but can also be used for things like insulation, rope making, and textiles. Just like in humans, this ingredient is indigestible for cats. There is no hard evidence to suggest this ingredient is unhealthy, but it wouldn’t be considered a higher quality ingredient, either.
Other ingredients in the formula
Fish oil is a popular supplement used by cat and dog owners. In this case, the food is already supplemented with fish oil. This ingredient is high in very healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. This can lead to an improved coat, healthier skin, boost to the immune system, lower blood pressure, and help improving cognitive function in older pets. There are also some studies that show fish oil to help assist with certain allergies in dogs and cats. This is a higher quality ingredient.
Calcium sulfate is used mostly as a firming agent, buffer and acidity regulator, or flour treatment additive. It is a natural source of elemental calcium and a good option for calcium supplementation in foods. It is also inexpensive and readily available. While this ingredient may carry a slight allergy risk, in general, it is considered safe with some nutritional benefits in cats.
Taurine is an essential amino acid that is critical for normal heart muscle function, vision, and reproduction in cats. Since cats are unable to create proper levels of taurine in their body naturally, it must be supplemented in their food. That’s why you’ll see this ingredient listed for so many different cat food blends. For cat foods that contain enough high quality animal based proteins, a taurine supplement may not be needed. However, most cat foods will need to add in additional taurine in the form of a supplement to the food. Even when included as a supplement instead, there is very low to almost zero health risk associated with this ingredient. In fact, a lack of taurine can cause a slew of issues, so it’s very important to make sure your cat is receiving enough taurine in his or her diet.
Chicken Liver Flavor
As you might expect, this ingredient is simply the extracted flavoring of chicken liver. We usually don’t like “flavor” ingredients, but in this case, the animal is named. The sourcing of the flavor (liver) is also named. So in this case, we aren’t too worried about it. This ingredient isn’t going to add any nutritional value to the food, but it may make the food taste better.
Is this an allergy causing formula?
This formula contains corn and wheat extracts which suggest that the formula can cause allergies.
Other ingredients to avoid feeding your cat on
BHA/BHT – Both BHA & BHT are preservatives that have been banned in human foods in many countries due to cancer risks. However, they remain approved for use in pet foods. A growing number of pet owners are becoming aware of the potential dangers these ingredients bring and are shunning all foods containing BHA and BHT. A quick internet search on these preservatives will show that the backlash is gaining steam with many cat food companies abandoning these ingredients. BHA and BHT are extremely controversial ingredients in all forms of pet food.
Animal by-products – One of the worst meat ingredients found in pet food today is animal by product. It’s true that this ingredient provides a very high amount of meat protein that cats need to thrive. However, animal by products are considered to be the lowest form of meat and it isn’t even approved for human consumption. Animal by-products are carcasses and parts of carcasses from slaughterhouses, animal shelters, zoos and veterinarians, and products of animal origin not intended for human consumption, including catering waste. Legally, this ingredient can even contain roadkill or euthanized animals. This ingredient may also contain what is called “4D meat” which is what the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) calls cattle that is dead, dying, disabled or diseased. This meat is considered unfit for human consumption, but is typically found in many pet food products. This is not something we recommend you feed your cat or any other pet.
This formula can be termed as an average formula. While it may have the capacity to help in hairball and weight management, it is also likely to cause allergies. Apart from the chicken, all other ingredients are cheap and low quality grain based ingredients.