Egg whites and yolks are a staple of the human diet. They are full of protein, contain no carbohydrates, and are a source of healthy fats. Given all of those health benefits, you may wonder if cats are allowed to eat eggs. Well, cats can eat cooked eggs, but should never be fed raw eggs.
Eggs are full of nutrients and can safely be fed to cats. Some even consider eggs to be a superfood for cats. That said, there are some guidelines to follow when feeding eggs to your cat. Eggs must always be cooked. Raw eggs contain avidin, a protein that prevents biotin from being absorbed into the cat’s body. Biotin is essential for a healthy cat. Raw eggs can also contain salmonella. Cooking the eggs kills this bacteria and neutralizes the avidin. Eggs should be boiled (or poached), deshelled, and broken up into bite-sized pieces for the cat.
Don’t throw away those eggshells as they are a good source of calcium. After cooking an egg, peel the shell, let it cool and dry, and grind it down. The shell should be ground into particles so that it looks like grains of sand. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of this over your cat’s regular food for a boost to its calcium intake. Be careful to not feed your cat too much egg or eggshell as it can cause the cat to become overweight.
Can You Feed a Cat Raw Eggs?
As discussed, cats cannot eat raw eggs. Cats run the same risk of contracting salmonella as humans do. Not only this, but raw egg whites contain a glycoprotein called avidin. This protein interrupts the absorption of biotin due to the avidin-biotin interaction. Avidin binds with biotin, preventing it from being easily absorbed into the body.
Cats need biotin, also called vitamin H, to maintain a healthy coat, skin, and claws. Biotin is also important for carnivores, as it assists the body with eliminating protein by-products. It also supports other bodily functions and organs, such as the reproduction and nervous systems, and the thyroid and adrenal glands.
Cooking eggs kills off any salmonella bacteria, and also neutralizes the avidin present in the egg whites.
Signs of Biotin Deficiency
A study in The Journal of Nutrition states that a cat can naturally produce biotin and does not need it included in its diet. However, a biotin deficiency can still develop if it eats raw egg whites. This is because the avidin in the raw eggs whites draws the biotin away from being absorbed.
Instead, the avidin-biotin pairs are eliminated. If the cat is fed raw egg whites repeatedly, biotin deficiency will present itself as skin problems initially. The Journal of Nutrition notes the signs of biotin deficiency as:
- Dermal lesions
- Scaly dermatitis
- Achromotrichia, which is a loss of pigment in the fur
- Dried salivary, nasal, and lachrymal secretions (in female cats only)
- Weight loss
- Bloody diarrhea
A vet may suggest a biotin supplement to speed along recovery from biotin deficiency.
Signs of Salmonella Poisoning
Salmonella is a zoonotic disease that leads to an inflammation of the intestine and, if untreated, septicemia. This can result in death, even with treatment. Raw eggs can contain salmonella. This bacteria is also transferable to humans. The signs of salmonella infection include:
- Abdominal pain
- Mucus in feces
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Rapid heart rate
- Skin disease
- Vaginal discharge
- Blood loss
Female cats that are pregnant may also miscarry.
Can You Feed a Cat Cooked Eggs?
Cooked eggs are considered a great source of protein and amino acids for cats. They are also packed with the vitamins B, A, D, E, and K. Plus, thiamine, iron, zinc, selenium, and riboflavin. Including cooked eggs, in moderation, in your cat’s diet can be beneficial to its health. Some even consider eggs a superfood for cats.
Additionally, eggs are quite fatty. They are good for helping some cats regain weight when a picky eater or recovering from weight loss.
All of that said, cats can be allergic to eggs. This is why it is best to speak with a vet prior to feeding your cat eggs. Once that has been done, it is also recommended that you should slowly introduce eggs to the diet.
Starting with a small amount and monitoring it for any ill effects is how you should first proceed. Signs of an egg allergy could include vomiting, diarrhea, itchy skin or ears, and skin infections. After a week, if no symptoms present themselves, you can slowly begin making eggs a regular treat. Cooked eggs must be fully cooked. No runny yolks allowed.
Can Cats Eat Eggs And Cheese?
Almost all cats are lactose intolerant. Even ingesting a small amount of dairy can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and distress, like vomiting and diarrhea. That said, many vets do agree that a small amount of cheese, on rare occasions, won’t do any harm.
Just as with eggs, cats can also have dairy allergies. Even a small morsel of cheese can trigger a reaction. In spite of what cartoons may have led you to believe, cats really should steer clear of milk, cheese, and all other dairy products.
However, if your cat steals a piece of your egg and cheese omelet when you aren’t looking, it will be okay. On the other hand, if you are looking to include eggs in its diet, it is recommended to feed it plain poached or hard boiled eggs. Scrambled eggs are okay too, depending on how they are cooked.
Can Cats Eat Eggshells?
Eggshells are an excellent source of calcium and protein. The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture notes that chicken eggshell powder is a good sound of calcium. This study was conducted on piglets, however our research has found that cats will benefit from eating eggshells too.
95% of an eggshell’s makeup is calcium carbonate. The remaining 5% is a complex mix of proteins, which affect how the calcium forms and protects the liquids within. Calcium must be included in a cat’s diet, and crushed eggshells are a means of ensuring that happens.
A cat lacking in dietary calcium will develop a calcium deficiency. Calcium is vital for growing kittens, and also for maintaining healthy body functions in cats of all ages. This includes bone growth, muscle contractions, blood clotting, nervous system function, alongside many other bodily functions and organs. The symptoms of calcium deficiency in cats include:
- Loss of appetite
- Rigid limbs
- Difficulty walking
- Face rubbing due to itching
- Muscle twitches
Untreated and severe cases of calcium deficiency can result in death. Calcium deficiency can also be caused by other underlying health issues. These symptoms can be mitigated by feeding your cat eggshells. So long as there aren’t any other health issues, including eggshells in the cat’s diet may also prevent a calcium deficiency from ever forming.
Eggshells should be crushed, to avoid choking or internal blockages, and sprinkled over your cat’s regular food. To fully eliminate concerns about salmonella or avidin, cook the eggshells. After they have cooled, crush the shells into small pieces or until it looks like fine grains of sand.
Sprinkle roughly ½ a teaspoon of this grainy mixture over your cat’s food and store the rest in an air-tight container. Consult with your vet about how frequently eggshells should be given to your cat.
Do Cats Like Eggs?
A cat can be incredibly picky about what it eats. On the other hand, a cat can very firmly not care what it eats. The question of do cats like eggs really come down to the individual preferences of your cat. Across the board, it appears that many cats will happily chow down on eggs.
Do Cats Need Eggs?
Cats are obligate carnivores that derive all the nutrition needed from eating meat. Thus, a cat does not need to eat eggs. In saying that, occasionally including eggs in your cat’s diet can be beneficial if done so in moderation.
The abundance of protein and amino acids in eggs can be great for ensuring that your cat is getting all the nutrition it needs. Eggs are also a good source of taurine.
All of that said, eggs cannot replace other essential foods in a cat’s diet. Eggs should only be considered treats or an add on to regular meals. Eggs should not comprise more than 5% of your cat’s overall diet.
Egg Yolks and Hairballs
During our research, we came across the concept of egg yolks being a natural hairball remedy for cats. The knowledge is sound. Although we would still suggest consulting a vet for foods designed to help with hairball prone cats before trying egg yolks.
The idea is this: including cooked egg yolks in your cat’s diet helps it pass ingested hair. Egg yolks contain choline and lecithin. These two nutrients provide dual action to your cat’s internals. Choline contains acetylcholine, which allows the body to more efficiently get things moving through the digestive tract.
Lecithin emulsifies fat. The hair in your cat’s stomach is bound together with fats. Lecithin prevents the hair from binding, and also breaks down the larger clumps of hair already in the stomach. This allows the hair to pass through the digestive system, rather than forming a hairball.
One or two cooked egg yolks a week is the recommendation our research found. This can cause other problems, however, given the high fat content.
Can I Feed My Cat Too Much Egg?
Eggs are full of protein. Cats have evolved to convert protein into energy. A cat with an excess of protein in its system will have that protein converted into fat. In the wild, a cat would rely on these fat stores to survive prey-scarce winters. Domestic cats are fed on a regular basis and don’t need these fat stores. As such, it is very easy to over-feed a cat.
Feeding your cat too much egg can cause them to become obese, which opens it to other health issues. Egg yolks themselves are rich in fats and cholesterol. Too much egg yolk can cause heart issues. Egg whites are the best part of the egg to feed a cat.
How To Prepare Eggs for Cats
Eggs should be hard-boiled, poached, or scrambled for cats. Don’t add any seasonings to the eggs, or to add dairy to scrambled eggs. You may like a sprinkle of cheese and milk in your scrambled eggs, but your cat is lactose intolerant. Cooking won’t remove the lactose either. The same can be said for seasonings, some of which can be toxic to cats, such as garlic or onion.
Hard-boiled eggs should be de-shelled and mashed or ground into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle these pieces through your cat’s regular food, or offer them as a treat on their own. If scrambling or frying eggs, avoid using oil, lard, or butter to grease the pan. These are not healthy foods for your cat, and cause digestive distress if ingested.
Eggs can be included in your cat’s diet. However, they must be thoroughly cooked and served in moderation.