Cats love stuffing their faces. But would they even like eggs? And if they do, are eggs good for them either as a snack or as a core part of the diet?
Can cats eat eggs? They can, although there are better snack choices. Eggs contain the right amount of fat (around 9g per 100g), the right amount of carbs (almost none), and lots of vitamins and minerals like vitamins B12 and D and calcium. While they contain complete proteins, which cats need, they don’t contain enough protein. Boiled eggs and poached eggs therefore make a reasonable snack choice, as do scrambled eggs, so long as they aren’t cooked with milk, butter, onions or garlic. Eggs shouldn’t form a core part of your cat’s diet as this would cause protein deficiency, and you shouldn’t feed your cat raw egg because of the risk of salmonella.
The guide below looks at exactly why eggs are unsuitable with specific reference to their nutritional contents. We’ll look at each nutrient in turn, including carbohydrates and fiber, protein, fat and water, plus a section on how calorific eggs are and whether that’s a problem for your cat. We’ll finish with recommendations on how much egg you can feed to your cat as a snack.
Can Cats Eat Eggs?
Cats can eat eggs, yes. They’re a nutritous snack that cats can enjoy. There are exceptions of course like if they’re cooked in lots of oil, you’ve added lots of salt, or added an ingredient that cats shouldn’t eat like garlic. But plain egg makes an OK choice for a snack.
Do Cats Like Eggs?
Cats can like the kookiest foods! While some stick stubbornly to one kind of food their whole lives, other cats love variety, and can adore foods like eggs. And yes, that’s despite wild cats being carnivores.
The likely reason a cat would like eggs is that they are rich in protein and fat. When wild animals find a food source that contains lots of protein or fat, they make the most of it, because they can be hard to find. They’ll eat as much as they can in as short an amount of time as possible—which is the same reason why we love fatty, sugary foods too.
Are Eggs Poisonous to Cats?
Eggs aren’t poisonous to cats. They don’t contain anything that cats are allergic to or intolerant of, like lactose. One problem is that raw egg can contain salmonella, which is just as bad for cats as it is for people. You therefore shouldn’t feed your cat raw egg, but other kinds are fine, so long as they aren’t cooked in/with anything your cat shouldn’t eat like garlic.
Why Should Cats Eat Eggs?
It’s one thing to say that a food is suitable or not, but it’s another entirely to explain why. Let’s take a look at what nutrients eggs contain and how closely they match what a cat needs.
Nutrients in Eggs
The exact nutritional content of an egg depends on how you cook it. A fried egg, for example, has a higher fat content because it’s cooked in oil. The data below comes from NutritionValue.org and relates to the nutritional content of a raw egg minus the shell. While you shouldn’t feed your cat raw egg, this is the best example of the precise nutritional content an egg offers. Alongside these data are the AAFCO guidelines on what nutrients cats need in their diets.
|Nutrients||Amount per 100g||Cat RDA* per 100g|
|Carbohydrate||0.7g (0.4g sugar)||Variable**|
|Protein||13g||26-30g dry matter|
|Fat||9.5g||9g dry matter|
What this table tells us is that eggs aren’t far off being a suitable food for cats. They are deficient in one key area, which is protein. But aside from that they offer almost everything cats need, and little of what cats don’t need. While they shouldn’t form a key part of your cat’s diet, then, they do make a decent snack.
Carbohydrates & Fiber in Eggs
Eggs contain almost no carbohydrate, and absolutely no fiber. This is a good thing for your cat, but not in the way you might think.
Cats are described as obligate carnivores. This means that when eating a natural diet they need meat to survive. Meat doesn’t contain carbohydrates or fiber. It has therefore long been thought that cats somehow can’t digest carbohydrates at all, or that carbs are bad for them. Neither of these things are true; depending on how they’re processed and what kind of carb you’re talking about, cats can digest somewhere between 40-100% of the energy in them. They can’t digest tough plant fibers, which are a kind of carb, but then again neither can we!
But there are still reasons why your cat should eat a low carb diet. One is that diets low in carbs make up for that with a high protein and fat content, like eggs do, and protein and fat are both good for cats (as we’ll see in a moment). Another is that high sugar diets are bad for your cat’s teeth, because simple sugars break down in your cat’s saliva and damage its teeth, just like candy does for ours. This is a key problem with dry cat food for cats.
The fact that eggs are low in carbs is therefore a good thing.
Protein & Fat in Eggs
Protein and fat are the two most important nutrients in your cat’s diet. Whenever you assess a potential snack, look to switch to a new cat food, or want to know what your cat’s getting too much or not enough of, protein and fat should be the first two things you look at. Protein is important because it helps your cat maintain its lithe muscle mass; fat is important because cats are good at digesting it, and in a low-carb diet, it provides much needed energy.
Eggs don’t have quite enough protein for cats, although they do have more than lots of other foods. The average egg contains around 13g of protein per 100g overall, while cats need somewhere around 25-30g. That’s roughly half as much as your cat would ideally get. This means that egg would make an OK snack but wouldn’t be suitable as a core part of your cat’s diet.
Despite not having enough, though, the protein in eggs is good for your cat. That’s because the protein in eggs is considered complete protein. A complete protein is one that contains all of the amino acids an animal needs to survive, amino acids being the building blocks of protein. People need nine amino acids while cats need eleven (as there are two we can make in our bodies that cats can’t in theirs). Eggs contain all of these amino acids while plant-based foods don’t. To be clear, it is possible to source all amino acids from plant proteins, but complete proteins aren’t as common in plants as they are in meats.
Eggs also have the right amount of fat for cats. While eggs have lots of saturated fat, this isn’t something you need to worry about with regard to your cat. Cats are better at digesting fat than we are, so saturated fats don’t clog their arteries as easily as they clog ours. This means that an egg’s fat content is just right for your cat.
Water in Eggs
Eggs contain lots of water at around 76g per 100g. That means three quarters of an egg is water, with almost all the rest of its nutritional contents being protein and fat.
This might sound like a lot of water, but it isn’t, for a cat at least. Meat is around 60% water on average, although this varies with the kind of animal, its age, how much water it has had access to recently, how it was processed, and more. This means that eggs don’t have much more water than a cat’s average meal.
If anything, extra water in your cat’s snacks is a good thing. That’s because cats prefer getting water from eating rather than drinking, and dry cat foods don’t contain anywhere near enough water. This would therefore be a tick in the favor of feeding your cat eggs as a snack, although the drawbacks detailed elsewhere are more than enough to take it off the table on their own.
Calories in Eggs
Eggs are nutrient-dense foods. This means that they contain lots of energy for every gram of food. That’s often the case with foods that are high in protein and fat like eggs are. At 143 calories per 100g, eggs would provide your cat with lots of energy if you fed them as a snack.
Whether this is a good thing depends on your cat. Eggs are no more nutrient-dense than your cat’s normal food, so as long as your cat can self-regulate its food intake, that won’t be a problem. That’s because your cat will recognize that it’s eaten a nutrient-dense food and consequently eat less of its normal food. This would mean that your cat doesn’t gain weight. Lots of cats can self-regulate their food, but some can’t, particularly ones that are already overweight or obese. So, in an ideal world, feeding your cat an occasional snack of egg won’t make it gain weight. But it could if you feed too much or if your cat is already overweight/obese.
On balance, then, there are lots of ‘ticks’ in favor of feeding your cat eggs as a snack. They have reasonable amounts of fat and protein, the right amount of carbs (almost none), a healthy amount of water, and calorific density that’s commensurate to a cat’s normal diet. They are therefore far from the worst snack you could offer your cat.
Can Cats Eat Raw Eggs?
You shouldn’t feed your cat raw eggs for the same reason that you shouldn’t eat them. Raw and undercooked eggs can contain Salmonella, a type of bacteria that causes food poisoning. It’s found both on the outside of the eggshell and inside the egg itself.
Salmonella is exceptionally rare when you look at the overall numbers. It’s thought that somewhere around one in 20,000 eggs is contaminated with Salmonella. This means that the odds of your eggs being affected are low. Even so, it’s better to feed your cat eggs that you can guarantee aren’t infected (by cooking them) because food poisoning is a miserable experience both for people and for cats.
Can Cats Eat Boiled Eggs?
Boiled eggs are fine for cats to eat. The process of boiling, or cooking in any way, is enough to kill Salmonella and any other bacteria that may affect an egg.
The one thing you should be wary of is that boiled eggs have a texture that’s very easy to swallow. Your cat could accidentally swallow more than it should and the egg could catch in its throat. You should therefore cut any piece of boiled egg up into manageable chunks before feeding. This, really, is something you should do with any food before you feed it to your cat!
Also if you are planning on feeding your cat boiled eggs, don’t add anything to them. Your cat doesn’t need a load of table salt added to its diet, so feed them plain if you’re going to feed them at all. Feed your cat an even mixture of boiled egg white and yolk so that it has an even mix of nutrients.
Can Cats Eat Fried Eggs?
Eggs that are fried in lots of oil aren’t as good for cats as boiled eggs. That’s because eggs already have the right amount of fat in them, and frying them in oil only adds more. They would be higher in calories, too, and eggs are already nutrient-dense enough.
Can Cats Eat Scrambled Eggs?
Scrambled eggs can be fine for cats so long as they’re made the right way. If you make your scrambled eggs with milk or butter, you shouldn’t feed them to your cat, because adult cats are lactose intolerant. Scrambled eggs made with lactose-free or plant-based butters or milks would be fine. Cats can deal with a large amount of salt in their diets, but it would still be better if you didn’t add any in.
Can Cats Eat Poached Eggs?
Poached eggs are fine for cats, so long as they don’t have anything added to them that cats can’t eat, like garlic.
Vitamins & Minerals in Eggs
Eggs contain lots of vitamins and minerals, which is why they’re touted as a healthy food (although they are unhealthy in lots of ways, too). This makes sense when you think about it: an egg is a vessel that’s supposed to support a baby lifeform, and that baby lifeform has to draw all of its nutrients from the yolk of the egg as it grows. The yolk therefore contains all sorts of micronutrients, as well as lots of protein and fat, which are dense energy sources it can use to grow bigger. Either way, here is a detailed list of all the vitamins and minerals that eggs contain lots of, again from NutritionValue.org:
|Vitamin/Mineral||Amount per 100g|
Eggs contain a wider range of micronutrients than many foods, and lots of each of them. This would normally be a big tick in favor of feeding/eating a food.
The issue is that your cat should get all the nutrients it needs from its core diet. Cat foods, or high quality ones anyway, are formulated to contain everything a cat needs: enough of the key macros protein and fat, and every vitamin and mineral a cat needs to sustain itself. The idea is that you should be able to feed your cat its complete cat food, and nothing else, for its whole life—and it won’t experience any nutritional deficiencies. Therefore if your cat’s cat food doesn’t give it everything it needs, the answer isn’t to feed high-quality snacks, but to feed it better cat food.
Even with best intentions, it’s possible to feed your cat the wrong food. Many manufacturers have been ‘found out’ over the years in that their foods didn’t contain everything they were advertised to contain. But if that’s the case, again the answer isn’t to feed your cat a snack like eggs, but to talk to your vet. The vet will diagnose what your cat is deficient in and recommend a complete food that does contain everything it says it does. And failing that, they can recommend supplements in key vitamins and minerals like calcium.
All of this is to say that feeding your cat a snack like an egg just because it contains some vitamins and minerals should be towards the bottom of your list of options. But it does also mean that eggs are a better snack than many others like fruit, which don’t contain the right vitamins and minerals/macronutrients.
How Much Egg Can Cats Eat?
As snacks go, eggs are a reasonable choice. They contain a good amount of fat, no carbs or fiber, and while they don’t contain quite enough protein, they do contain some (and complete protein at that). There are far worse choices you could make. But while eggs aren’t bad for cats, they nonetheless shouldn’t eat too many. That’s because:
- Cats that are given lots of snacks learn to beg for more
- Cats that are given lots of snacks skimp on eating their main meals, so miss out on certain nutrients
- Cats that eat lots of snacks tend to gain weight, especially if they eat nutrient-dense foods like egg
You should therefore limit the amount of egg you feed to your cat. A tablespoon per snack would be a good amount. This isn’t enough to put your cat off its food.
How Often Can Cats Eat Eggs?
You should limit how frequently you feed your cat any snack, including eggs, for the reasons described above. Feeding a snack once per week is enough.
If you plan on feeding your cat any snacks, egg included, you should monitor its weight. You can do this either by weighing it or by performing a body condition test. Alternatively, talk to a vet and they can keep track of your pet’s weight. This will ensure that your cat’s feeding habits don’t make it unhealthy.
Should Cats Eat Eggs?
While eggs do make an OK snack, there are some that are better. Snacks made of meat are good because they contain complete proteins, the right proportions of fat and protein, are as easy to find as eggs, and that’s not to mention that cats love them. We always recommend snacks made of meat over other choices as they most closely fit what cats need and enjoy.
That being said, if your cat adores eggs, that’s fine. Just don’t feed enough to put your cat off its regular diet.