Whether your cat's eying your omelet or leftover Easter emblems, it's probably safe for him to eat cooked egg yolks. Yolks contain the bulk of eggs' nutritional value. Although they're less nutritious than their raw kin, cooked yolks harbor fewer diseases. Feed your feline egg yolks in moderation.
Cats and Eggs
Cats are obligate carnivores -- they have to eat meat to survive -- so their digestive systems are accustomed to processing lots of protein. Chicken eggs pose no obvious challenges in this regard.
Egg whites are about 90 percent water, so most of their extra-protein nutritional value is in their yolks. This cocktail of vitamins and minerals might otherwise require a food pyramid of consumption to assemble.
Cooked eggs don't have as much nutritional value as raw eggs, but they harbor fewer diseases. Feeding your cat cooked egg yolks is a safe bet.
Raw Egg Risks
Don't feed your cat raw eggs. That's the consensus of many veterinarians and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Raw eggs can foster a zoological cornucopia of diseases including E. coli and salmonella, both of which are quite serious and can result in death.
Disease aside, raw egg whites contain avidin, an enzyme that hinders the absorption of biotin, a B vitamin necessary for healthy skin and hair. That isn't a consideration with raw egg yolks, though.
Cooked Egg Menus
Cooked egg yolks are a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals in your cat's diet. Make sure you cook them thoroughly -- if you wouldn't eat them, you shouldn't feed them to your cat.
If you're introducing cooked egg yolks into your cat's diet for the first time, gradually substitute them for other foods. An abrupt diet change can give your cat a fatty liver, which opens the door to a grocery list of health issues.
Although your cat's digestive system is hardier than yours, you can't feed him rotten food. Spoiled hard boiled eggs can make your cat just as sick as raw eggs. Throw out expired food -- don't force it on your pets.
Egg Yolks and Moderation
If you're supplementing an otherwise balanced diet, you can probably feed your cat one hard-boiled egg every other day or every third day, according to Jill Bowen, a veterinarian and pet columnist for "The Roanoke Times."
The average adult cat needs roughly 400 calories a day, and an egg provides an eighth to a quarter of that. The yolk contains the bulk of those calories. Its concentration of certain fats, vitamins and minerals can be harmful in high doses. As such, Bowen's guidelines are probably applicable to feeding your cat just egg yolks.
More Egg-Head Considerations
Despite the risk of disease, some natural health advocates -- including Anitra Frazier, author of "Natural Cat: The Comprehensive Guide to Optimum Care" -- recommend feeding cats raw eggs.
If you go this route, get the freshest, most natural eggs possible. Cats may eat bird eggs in the wild, but some scientists argue genetic modification and modern farming practices have increased risks of food-borne illnesses from chicken eggs, raw and cooked.
Internet forums offer a range of anecdotal evidence for and against feeding cats eggs of any sort -- raw or cooked, whites or yolks. Much of it is contradictory. If you're conflicted, talk to your veterinarian about feeding your cat cooked egg yolks.
- Cornell University Cornell Feline Health Center: Gastrointestinal Parasites of Cats
- WebMD: Slideshow -- Foods Your Cat Should Never Eat
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine: Nutrition for the Adult Cat
- Roanoke.com: Feed a Cat Hard-Boiled Eggs in Moderation
- Washington State University 4-H Extension: Cat Anatomy and Physiology -- Digestive and Urinary Systems
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Digestive System of the Cat
- Reader's Digest: Hidden Dangers for Pets at Home
- TheCatSite.com: Can Cats Eat Boiled Egg or Any Other Form of Egg?
- Exploratorium: Do You Know How to Hard Cook an Egg?