Eggs are considered the perfect animal protein and a superfood for us humans. Interestingly, when cooked, they are just as beneficial for cats! Many scientists believe they are incredibly nutritious for animals. That’s good news if you want to offer your kitty eggs!
Let’s take a closer look at the egg and see why, in moderation, this is a wonderful addition to your kitty’s diet.
The incredible egg:
Our feline friends eat birds, birds lay eggs, and wild cats eat raw eggs from nests. But are they good for your cat?
Yes, they are! That’s why many cat breeders will add the occasional egg to their cat’s diets to give them shiny coats and keep their claws healthy.
Cat food manufacturers add eggs into their cat food formulas, as well as cat treats, to increase the protein percentages and add in the many health benefits.
But there’s so much more to feeding eggs to cats!
Cats being obligate carnivores (meaning they can only metabolize the fatty acids from animal proteins) benefit from the perfect protein source of the egg. They pack a nutritional punch that rivals other protein sources, and here’s why:
The benefits of the egg:
- Animal Protein: Eggs are entirely animal protein. This is important for obligate carnivores that lack the liver enzyme necessary for metabolizing plant proteins or dairy products.
- Amino Acids: Cells are made up of proteins, and amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Cats need 11 essential amino acids and 10 are found in eggs. (Fun fact: Humans only need nine essential amino acids.)
- Taurine: Taurine is necessary for maintaining a healthy heart and eyes, and can only be found in animal proteins. Cats can’t manufacture taurine themselves, so it’s added as a supplement to all cat foods. Eggs are an excellent source of taurine, so adding them to your cat’s diet is a great boost.
- Carbohydrate Free: Being a pure animal protein, there are no carbohydrates in the egg. Cats, being obligate carnivores, have no essential need for carbohydrates, making carb-free eggs an excellent source of pure protein.
- Vitamin A: This vitamin supports the health of your cat’s skin, coat, heart, and nervous system.
- Vitamin D: This vitamin manages bone growth and the role of calcium in the body. Cat’s don’t manufacture this on their own, making it an essential vitamin added to cat food. Humans synthesize this vitamin in our skin (the sunlight vitamin), but cats can’t do that.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects against cell damage. It’s also an essential vitamin added to cat foods.
- Vitamin B12: This is another essential vitamin that supports your cat’s immune system, digestive system, and nervous system.
- Thiamine: This nutrient supports a healthy carbohydrate metabolism for high-energy organs like the brain.
- Iron: This is an essential nutrient cats need to keep their blood-producing red cells to remain healthy. If it’s not present in their diets (pet food manufacturers add it to the foods), your cat can become anemic.
- Riboflavin: Also known as vitamin B2, this nutrient helps in the red cell production and antibodies your cat needs to fight disease.
- Zinc: This nutrient improves the quality of your cat’s skin, hair, and reproductive system.
- Selenium: This is a powerful antioxidant that protects your cat’s cells from free radical damage.
- Biotin: Biotin is essential to help your cat process and excrete protein, improve the quality of their skin and coat, and support their thyroid and adrenal glands.
As you can see, there are so many nutrients essential for your cat’s health wrapped up in one mighty egg!
Let’s look at safe ways you can feed an egg to your cat.
First things first, no raw eggs:
Cooked eggs are the only way to feed an egg to your cat. Raw eggs can carry e. coli or salmonella, which can cause serious gastrointestinal problems for your cat. Even cats who are fed raw diets should not be given raw eggs.
Raw egg whites contain avidin. Avidin is a protein in the egg that, when raw, interrupts the absorption of biotin and complex B vitamins. However, cooking the egg white significantly reduces the avidin, making it safe for cats to consume.
What is the best way to feed eggs to my cat?
The best way to feed eggs to your cat is by boiling, poaching, scrambling, or frying (with no butter or seasoning).
Since cats are finicky eaters, the first time you offer cooked egg to your cat, put it into their normal food in small pieces. That will disguise it enough for them to get accustomed to the taste and readily accept it later.
Cats can have food intolerances or allergies, but it’s not common for a cat to have an egg allergy. But, just to make sure, watch your cat’s health once you start feeding eggs. Any itching, ear infections, or digestive upset could signal an intolerance or allergy.
How much egg is a healthy amount?
Your cat needs a healthy, well-balanced diet, and eggs should only be given as a supplement. Even though the egg is packed with essential nutrients, it should only make up 10% of your cat’s diet. Feeding your beloved kitty an egg only diet may cause them to suffer from malnutrition since they need many essential vitamins and minerals found in commercial cat foods.
One egg a day for a 10 lb. kitty is equal to 15 eggs a day for 150 lb. human; so feeding an egg a day to your furry friend would be way too much. Cats should receive eggs once or twice a week, and never a whole egg. Breaking the egg up and offering a few small pieces at a time is best.
What about eggshells?
Eggshells are a wonderful source of calcium, important for your cat’s bones and ligaments. The best way to feed eggshells is to grind them up into a fine powder and sprinkle the powder into your cat’s food occasionally.
The downside to eggs:
Eggs have loads of fat and cholesterol. Too much fat in a cat’s diet can cause pancreatitis, or add to an obesity problem.
The yolks carry the highest amount of fat and cholesterol. So overweight cats, or cats with kidney issues, should not eat the egg yolks; even egg whites should be given as an occasional treat. Consult with your vet, as they will know how much is safe for your cat.
Does your cat need eggs?
If you’re looking for human food, that’s a great treat and offers high nutritional value for shiny fur, healthy claws, and improved overall wellness, the cooked egg is a wonderful choice. If offered in addition to a high quality, well-balanced diet, this superfood offers so many benefits and essential nutrients, it’s hard to overlook.
Just be cautious about amounts and frequency to avoid any tummy or digestion problems. With eggs, less may be more if your cat is prone to pancreatitis, is overweight, or has kidney disease. Otherwise, pet parents can’t go wrong with the super egg for their super cat!