Cats can be finicky about what they eat. They can even be a bit peculiar. My Persian loves raspberries, and carrots. But she won’t touch fish. Go figure! A cat that isn’t attracted to the sweet aroma of fish. That same finicky feline also turns up her nose at catnip.
So can cats eat eggs? The simple answer is: Yes they can.
The issue of whether eggs are a good inclusion in a cat’s diet has received conflicting responses—even from so-called animal diet experts. One suggested that cats will eat what is offered if their system needs this food. But, I’ve had cats that—like hungry dogs—will wolf down anything that is within their reach.
If left to fend for themselves, cats are carnivores. They will catch and eat meat. My black cat turns his back on food containers of fancy cat food to catch birds and mice—if he is given the opportunity. He also likes spicy meats if they are available. He’ll even jump to the counter and help himself if my appetizer board is left unguarded.
So, how about the egg issue? Here’s what my research has uncovered. Eggs are a great source of protein. Your cat can have them as part of his diet. But, make sure they are cooked. You might crumble a small portion of hard-boiled egg yolk into your cat’s wet or dry food.
Proponents of feeding raw egg yolks to cats point out that egg yolks contain many nutrients and they are an especially good source of protein. Indeed, a single egg yolk contains more than one-fifth of a cat’s recommended nutrient intake. Egg yolks contain all of the ten essential amino acids including leucine, arginine, isoleucine, histidine, lysine, threonine, methionine and tryptophan. Egg yolks also contain minerals, vitamin and calcium essential to your cat’s health.
Those who are unopposed to including raw egg yolks in your cat’s diet stress that it be an occasional thing, not every day. They also suggest you not feed your cat the egg whites. The avidin in them prevents absorption of essential B vitamins.
Why not Raw Egg?
There are technical explanations for why you should cook egg for your cat. Raw egg may be bacteria-laden. Eggs yolks can have salmonella or e-coli. If you recall e-coli was the deadly bacteria that made so many people and animals sick during the water crisis in Walkerton, Ontario nearly twenty years ago. If bacteria will give them food poisoning, make people ill, or kill them, then it can certainly affect your feline friend in a similar fashion.
There’s another chemical problem with feeding your cat raw egg. The protein in egg whites—in rare cases—can interfere with your cat’s ability to absorb biotin. While this may not seem like a big deal, the condition may result in problems with your cat’s coat or skin.
Throughout food history the lowly egg has gone in and out of favor. Pre-1970, eggs and milk were considered perfect foods for young children and pets. They were easy to digest and easy to prepare. They contained good stuff for young eaters. But, sometime between 1970 and 1980, things like milk, eggs, and red meat became foods to avoid. Egg yolks were to be especially avoided. It was believed they increased bad cholesterol levels and caused heart attacks. Egg Beaters—whites with yellow food coloring—became replacements used in cooking. Those who avoided eating egg yolks, often fed the yolks to their pets. However, the egg’s image has improved thanks to research. Today, eating eggs in moderation is viewed as a good way to get much-needed protein.
So, we’re generally agreed. Eggs are an excellent source of protein. How best to include egg in your cat’s diet? Jan Dempsey Senior Nutritionist with Purina pet foods points out that egg yolk should be given in tiny amounts as a treat. Yolks are high in calories and you don’t want a fat, unhealthy cat. She suggests you sprinkle a half-teaspoon of crumbled, hard-boiled egg yolk over your cat’s food like you’d sprinkle sesame seeds on your salad.
A ten-pound cat’s diet should not exceed 200 calories a day and egg should never be more than 20 calories of that daily intake. Figure a whole egg at just under a hundred calories so your cat should have less than a fifth of that egg.
One expert on feline foods pointed out that a common-sense approach to what is included in your cat’s diet is: If you wouldn’t eat it, your cat shouldn’t be offered it either. I’d have to agree when it comes to raw eggs. I shudder at the thought. A nice hard-boiled or scrambled egg yolk on the other hand? Yum.
Just as popular opinion has changed about the health benefits of eating eggs, so, too, there is controversy over whether your cat’s egg yolks should be cooked or not.