When you first welcome a cat into your home, researching which cat foods are healthiest, safest, and most nutritious is an important step in raising a kitty. But in the process of figuring out which foods your cat should eat, we can often forget which foods our feline friends cannot eat. We'll make a list of all the human foods you need to keep away from your cats. For now, let's focus on eggs.
We know that, as people, raw eggs are very dangerous to consume. When you eat raw eggs, you put your body at risk for contracting salmonella, which is essentially an infectious virus that bacteria that causes serious internal pain, especially in your abdominal region or in various muscles throughout the body. Salmonella is often associated with irregular body temperature fluctuations, usually in the direction of chills, along with extreme exhaustion and absolutely no desire to eat.
Just like humans, cats are prone to contracting salmonella from raw eggs, too. When you put your cat in a situation where they have access to raw eggs, they become susceptible to coming down with a bacterial infection, so no matter what, keep raw eggs far away from your feline friends. This is a great topic of discussion, so let’s talk a bit more about why raw eggs are a health risk before diving into the relationship between cats and eggs!
Why Raw Eggs are Dangerous in General
As we mentioned, raw eggs pose a threat to the overall health of not only your cats but your health, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just over a million people are struck by salmonella every year.
Not only does salmonella cause people to become very sick to their stomachs, but the bacterial infection can ultimately result in death if it is left untreated. When it comes to cats and salmonella statistics, the numbers are far smaller, and this is primarily due to the fact that people are more likely to eat raw eggs than your typical cat.
That said, about three cats for every five hundred forty-two felines contract salmonella as a foodborne illness originating in raw eggs. More often than not, if a cat has salmonella, then it is appearing alongside another condition or illness. It typically takes a decent amount of bacteria to fully affect a cat, and again, this is unlikely to occur because cats tend to be out of reach of raw eggs.
There was a study conducted back in 2017 that sought to determine the likelihood of cats and dogs coming down with salmonella. By conducting an investigation into the contents of stool samples, researchers reviewed the findings of a sample size of 3,000 cats and dogs in total. Of the total sample, only five hundred forty-two were cats.
The researchers discovered that only three of the five hundred forty-two cats had traces of salmonella in their systems. This calculates to less than one percent of the population, meaning the likelihood of cats having salmonella is relatively small compared to the rates of salmonella in people. Interestingly enough, another conclusion drawn by the researchers is that a diet comprised strictly of raw foods can actually be a leading cause in the development of salmonella in a cat's body.
After taking a look at pieces of raw pet food, lab analysts found that many foods tested positive for salmonella cultures. In fact, out of a total of one hundred ninety-six samples, fifteen of them were positive for salmonella. This equates to roughly seven-point-seven percent of the samples having traces of salmonella.
Overall, raw eggs are not consumable, no matter who you are or what breed of cat you own. Raw eggs contain bacteria that are considered harmful. Additionally, there is a protein known as avidin that exists within uncooked egg yolks and egg whites. When avidin enters a cat's body, it binds to a vitamin called biotin.
An absolutely necessary part of your cat's diet and nutrition, biotin plays a key role in helping cats absorb energy from the foods they consume. Avidin and biotin do not exist comfortably in the same space, primarily because avidin binds to biotin, making it nearly impossible for your cat's body to absorb biotin properly.
Everything You Need to Know about Vitamin B7 for Cats
Biotin is one of the main reasons why your cat is able to absorb the nutrients in food. As a necessary part of your feline friend’s diet, biotin makes it possible for your cat's body to break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which then allows your cat to use the calories as an energy source. It's important that we go into more detail about biotin in order to emphasize the reason why cats cannot eat raw eggs, despite being able to consume cooked eggs just fine. Biotin is a B vitamin. More specifically, biotin is the B7 vitamin that you've probably seen in the natural health aisle of your local grocery stores.
If a cat has low or insufficient levels of biotin in his or her body, then you will notice that your cat's fur will thin. This happens because biotin is also very much involved in the growth and maintenance of hair. Biotin is also heavily involved in keeping your cat's skin healthy, too.
As a water-soluble vitamin, biotin dissolves very easily in the body. The vitamin naturally passes through the system when your cat uses the cat box. Like all vitamins, biotin is only beneficial when the appropriate dose is taken. If your cat consumes too much biotin, or if your cat's biotin levels are lacking, then that is when problems begin to arise.
If you are unsure as to whether or not your cat is receiving enough biotin naturally from his or her diet, then we advise you to speak with your cat's veterinarian. There are biotin supplements available for cats that are lacking in biotin but do not introduce these into your pet's diet before consulting a medical professional.
Cooked Eggs vs Raw Eggs
At this point, we have established that cats can eat fully cooked eggs, but raw eggs are off-limits. But what is the difference between raw and cooked eggs, aside from the obvious fact that one has been met with heat and the other has not? Let’s find out!
When eggs are cooked through and served at an appropriate temperature, eggs provide cats with an abundance of protein, which is a macronutrient needed for muscle growth and repair. As a prime source of protein, eggs can also be digested by your cat's body with ease.
How to Make Eggs for Your Cat
There are four main ways to cook eggs that are also acceptable ways for your cats to consume eggs. The first example of eggs for cats is scrambled eggs. As a very traditional and simple way of preparing eggs, scrambling egg whites and egg yolks together is encouraged.
By scrambling eggs for your cat, you are making it as easy as possible for your cat to eat. Older cats that might have a harder time eating for reasons such as having fewer teeth, can eat scrambled eggs with ease. Plus, the fluffy and airy nature of scrambled eggs is fun for cats to snack on, too.
The next example of eggs for cats is a hard-boiled egg. When you serve a hard-boiled egg to your feline, make sure you cut it up into very small pieces that your cat can eat one by one. You can even use hard-boiled egg pieces as a topping on top of your cat's current daily food. This idea can work wonders if you seem to find it difficult to get your kitty cat to eat wet food.
Also, if your cat has decided to stop eating wet food seemingly out of nowhere, putting pieces of a hard-boiled egg on top is a perfect solution. Cats can sometimes get bored with eating the same food time and time again, especially if they are fed the same flavor of wet cat food every single day. Mixing things up by adding an egg topper is a cat owner pro tip.
These are definitely a great style of eggs for cats because it is simple to chew but still has a bit of consistency and bite to it.
Fried eggs are the third example of eggs for cats. By frying eggs on the stovetop, you have complete control over how well done the eggs end up being. You have a say over the consistency of the egg yolk, for the longer you cook a fried egg, the more rubbery and solid the yolk becomes.
Let's think back to what we mentioned about raw eggs for cats really quickly. It is incredibly important that you fry an egg at least to the point where the egg is fully cooked. Do not serve an egg with a runny yolk to your cat. Styles of eggs, such as easy side up, are not encouraged for your cat because the yolk is technically still in its most raw form.
Also, the best plan of action when cooking eggs for cats is to cook them in a nonstick pan. It is not safe to use any cooking oils, sprays, or butter when preparing eggs for cats, so if your pan is not nonstick, you'll run into problems when you try to flip the egg to cook the other side.
Now, up until this point, we have sworn off on undercooked eggs. That includes yolks that are runny, or at least not fully firm. However, the fourth method of cooking eggs for cats comes with a catch. Poached eggs are certainly a way of preparing eggs for cats, but there is one very important element of poaching eggs for cats. You must use a pasteurized egg.
Even though these eggs are technically undercooked, they provide a serious benefit to your cat when pasteurized and poached. Eggs that are prepared in this manner are the best for cats that have a biotin deficiency. Poached eggs rid the egg of avidin, which is the protein that prevents biotin, the B7 vitamin, from properly breaking down food as it is supposed to. Without avidin, your cat’s body will be able to make use of every gram of protein in an egg, which tends to fall somewhere around six or seven grams per single egg.
How Many Eggs Can Cats Eat Per Day
The nutrients in eggs are good for your cat, but just like anything else, too much of these nutrients are more detrimental than beneficial. Another aspect to keep in mind is the caloric content of eggs. An egg, complete with the yolk and the whites, amounts to roughly seventy calories in total. This is just under half of your cat's recommended daily caloric intake. The general consensus is that cats can have eggs as long as there is not an allergy involved in the situation. Even so, cats cannot eat as many eggs as they would like to, for that would certainly result in upset stomachs.
The average number of calories that a cat should consume every day is around two hundred calories, so one egg alone is already close to taking up half of the day's calories. While eggs are not extremely dense in terms of calories for humans, they are rather caloric in terms of a cat's diet.
We suggest that you only feed cooked eggs to your cat every once in a while. Otherwise, you might find that your cat is starting to gain weight rather quickly, and this can ultimately lead to obesity and related health conditions.
Egg Allergy Symptoms
Just because eggs are not harmful to cats when properly prepared, it does not necessarily mean that your cat in particular can consume cooked eggs. Some cats have adverse reactions to eggs, which are usually the result of an allergy to eggs.
Usually, an allergic reaction to eggs manifests as something minor at first. Eventually, the symptoms become more constant and concerning. If you are concerned at all about your cat possibly experiencing an allergic reaction to eggs, look for the following behaviors. If your cat is exhibiting any of these reactions, it is likely that your kitty has an intolerance for eggs.
- Coughing fits
- Bouts of sneezing attacks
- Itchy skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Odd bathroom behaviors
- Unexplainable diarrhea
- Swelling of the face
- Bloated bellies
- Puffy paws
Eggs are not the only foods we eat that some cats have allergic reactions to, and there are even some foods that people often consume but cannot be eaten by cats under any circumstances.
Examples of foods that are off limits for cats include...
- Dairy milk
- Raw meats or fish
- Fat pockets from meats
- Garlic and garlic powder
- Sweetener called xylitol
- Anything containing alcohol
What to Do If Your Cat Has an Allergic Reaction to Eggs
If your cat happens to have an allergic reaction to eggs, there is a high chance that you will find out the hard way. Many pet owners do not know that their cat is allergic to something until an allergic reaction occurs. This is why introducing new foods to your cat's diet should be approached slowly.
Try not to switch up your cat's food, both dry and wet, all at once. Take it easy and let your cat adjust to the new foods. When it comes to giving eggs to your cat, it is important that you keep a close eye on how your cat reacts. The signs of an allergic reaction tend to present themselves shortly after the allergen is introduced, so your cat is likely to show symptoms of an allergic reaction within minutes of eating the eggs.
Even when prepared properly and cooked through all the way, allergic reactions will overrule the safety measures you took prior to giving eggs to your cat. So if you notice your cat is not taking well to eggs, it is likely due to an allergy rather than being a result of how you cooked the eggs.
If your cat is having an allergic reaction to eggs, or anything really, then rush your pet to the nearest emergency veterinarian clinic. Never take the situation into your own hands unless you know what you are doing. It always helps to stay up-to-date on at-home remedies for emergency situations, but if you do not know what to do as a result of proper training, leave it to the professionals.
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Sources:People Foods Cats Can Eat
Can Cats Eat Eggs?
People Foods’ For Cats To Eat
Dr. Sara Ochoa
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, St. Georges University
Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.
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Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
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