When I was growing up I was taught that you should have a maximum of 3 eggs a week. If you ate more than 3 eggs a week you would be at risk of high cholesterol and that was a definite “must-avoid” in our family. As I grew older and learned more about diet and nutrition, I learned that this “egg fact” was in fact false.
Now, it’s not to say that my parents were liars, because the reality is that there was a lot of nutritional information we didn’t fully understand in the 90s, but now that more evidence has come out about eggs we know that eggs are an extremely healthy food source.
These days, eggs are a staple of my diet and quite frankly, I eat them daily. Eggs provide us with great nutrients, including protein, Vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, D, E, K as well as lecithin. Some eggs are also infused with omega-3 fatty acids, which are extremely important for both humans and cats, but does that make eggs a good snack or regular meal for cats?
CAN CATS EAT EGGS?
Yes, cats can eat eggs, however, because cats are obligate carnivores they cannot receive all the nutrients that they need from eggs.
If you do choose to feed your cat eggs make sure that you do not use any spices or salt and instead feed your cat a plain egg.
As eggs are most commonly cooked with oil or butter, it’s important to only use small amounts. I would recommend sticking to extra virgin olive oil or even a small amount of butter as they are the healthier options for cats when cooking eggs.
Fun Fact: Wild cats have been known to raid nests for eggs.
ARE EGGS BENEFICIAL FOR CATS?
Yes, eggs can be beneficial for cats for the amino acids, taurine and protein inside of them. Unfortunately, eggs are not as beneficial for cats as they are for humans.
The majority of the nutrients cats can receive from eggs come from the yolk, though cats can eat both the yolk and the egg whites.
CAN CATS EAT RAW EGGS?
No, cats cannot and should not ever eat raw eggs. Uncooked eggs should never be eaten by humans or cats as many eggs contain Salmonella or in some cases E. coli.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the ways Salmonella can be avoided are by purchasing only pasteurized eggs, keeping eggs refrigerated at 40°F (4°C), and always cooking eggs to at least 160°F (71°C).
Signs of Salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, fevers, or upset stomachs. If ever you see any of these symptoms after your cat has eaten eggs make sure to contact your vet immediately to see whether or not they require any further medical assistance.
In cases where Samonella poisoning is minimal, symptoms should cease within 30-minutes to an hour. During this time, water should always be made accessible to the cat and if symptoms ever get worse do not wait to take your cat to your regular vet or the emergency.
It is crucial that you keep an eye on your cat for at least an hour after poisoning to ensure that they do not become dehydrated as dehydration can be fatal.
E. coli and Samonella can be more severe for elder cats or cats who have underlying health conditions.
Raw eggs are also no good for cats because they contain a protein called avidin which can bond with the biotin (B7) found in eggs. The concern with avidin is the fact that it causes vitamin B7 to become unabsorbable for cats.
CAN CATS EAT EGGSHELLS?
According to the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), cats can eat crushed eggshells or eggshell powder for the calcium it provides.
One crushed eggshell can provide 800mg of calcium, copper, boron, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, silicon, sulphur and zinc.
If pet parents choose to prepare crushed eggshells for their cats they must ensure that the shells are cleaned or boiled with hot water to reduce the chances of spreading E. Coli or Salmonella.
Once the eggshells are dry pet parents can bake the shells at 300°F (~150°C) before crushing them into a very, very fine powder. Leaving eggshells uncrushed can cause cats to choke and can even harm the cat by cutting their mouth or esophagus.
As always, please confirm with your vet whether or not feeding your cat crushed eggshells is a good idea as there may be a better supplement.
CAN CATS BE ALLERGIC TO EGGS?
Yes, cats have been known to be born with or develop allergies towards eggs. Eggs are actually known to be one of the more common allergies cats and dogs can have, so if you choose to feed your cat eggs make sure to always keep a close eye on them.
Oftentimes food allergies manifest themselves in rashes, loss of hair/whiskers, itchiness that may lead to over scratching or pulling out hair, skin infections or even gas.
While allergies are not usually fatal, they do tend to cause a great deal of discomfort for the cat and as mentioned may cause the cat to scratch or harm themselves, putting them at risk of infections from open wounds.
When feeding your cat a new food it is highly recommended that you speak to a vet as they may be able to provide you with alternatives that may be more beneficial or at least less likely to cause problems.
In general, it’s a good idea to make sure that you only feed your cat small amounts of new food and monitor them for any changes. It may take up to a month before allergies begin manifesting, especially when it comes to skin/fur, though in some cases cats will immediately show signs of allergies within the hour.
Similar to E. Coli or Salmonella poisoning some of the earliest signs of allergies can be vomiting, lethargy or diarrhea. It’s important to note that allergies do not affect all cats in the same way, meaning that some cats will be affected by multiple symptoms while other cats will only experience one.
At the time of posting this article, I must state that feline food allergies aren’t overly common, though at this time there doesn’t seem to be a published statistic of what that number looks like.
HOW MANY EGGS SHOULD CATS EAT?
There isn’t a set number of eggs a cat should eat though, in my opinion, the more crucial piece of information is that eggs alone are not considered a balanced diet for cats.
If you choose to feed your cat eggs they should always be used as a supplement, snack or a once in a while treat. The general rule for supplements, snacks, or treats should be a maximum of 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake. In most cases, one egg is too much for a cat to eat.
The average cat will require between 150-200 calories a day and one egg alone can provide between 80-100 calories, not including the oil or butter used to cook it. So, it’s safe to say that you should only feed your cat a very small sliver of egg unless recommended otherwise by a vet.
So while eggs are considered a great supplement in a cat’s diet, they are not considered to be a well-balanced meal for cats. Generally, eggs are considered to be safe for cats to eat when cooked through and left unseasoned, though it is still highly recommended that you speak to a vet about feeding your cat eggs.
At the time of writing this article, there are no concerns regarding feeding your cat eggs as a treat or snack every so often other than compromising the integrity of your cat’s regular diet. As a general rule, if you choose to supplement or feed eggs as a treat you must not feed more than 10% of their regular caloric intake. Feeding small amounts of eggs will ensure that your cat does not miss out on the nutrients they need by getting overfilled with egg.
So pet parents, I’m curious, have you ever fed your cats eggs? Did your cat like the eggs? Let me know in the comments below!