Nutrition

Can Cats Eat Egg Shells? Are They Toxic?

Eggs are an egg-ceptional source of protein, amino acids, and other nutrients like B vitamins, choline, calcium, and iron. You can find cooked eggs in certain cat food recipes, and quail eggs are popular addition to raw cat diets. Are you adding eggs to your cats diet? The next time you crack an egg, pause before throwing those shells away. Eggshells may have some surprising benefits for your feline friend.

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Last Updated: September 20, 2023 | 4 min read

cat sniffing broken egg shells

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If your cats are anything like mine, they go absolutely crazy for human food, trying to sneak any table scrap they cat get their paws on.

Although not all human foods are suitable for felines, eggs are a nutrient-dense treat for cats if appropriately prepared and fed in moderation. But what about the shells? Can cats eat egg shells?

You may have seen advocates of the raw diet feeding their felines a whole quail egg—including the shell. Proponents say eggshells offer valuable nutrients, but is that really the case? Is it safe to feed your cat eggshells, or could this practice be dangerous? Keep reading to learn about the efficacy of feeding eggshells to cats.

Can Cats Eat Egg Shells?

The short answer? Yes, cats can eat eggshells. Every part of the egg, including the shell, may be consumed by cats for nutritional benefit.

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning most of their food should contain animal ingredients. The whole egg offers nutritional benefits for cats and shouldn’t cause digestive problems if precautions are taken when preparing eggshells for your feline.

Are Egg Shells Safe For Cats?

When appropriately prepared, egg shells are safe for cats. Egg shells are a significant source of calcium and contain other minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

A Note On Quail Egg Shells

While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) warns against eating raw or undercooked eggshells due to the possible presence of Salmonella bacteria; however, the risk of Salmonella in quail eggs is much lower. A quail’s body temperature is higher than other birds, like chickens. This, along with an increased presence of lysozyme—an antimicrobial enzyme that protects against bacteria, viruses, and fungi—makes quail eggs less susceptible to Salmonella.

While you can feed raw quail eggshells to your cat, it’s best to crush the shell into tiny pieces. Sharp edges could irritate your cat’s throat and cause damage to the esophagus.

Are Egg Shells Good For Cats?

Eggshells contain various nutrients, with the primary mineral in eggshells being calcium—ranging from 84 percent in quail eggs to 97 percent in chicken eggs. Calcium keeps healthy bones and teeth strong, helps muscles to contract, supports blood circulation, regulates nerve function, and helps release hormones and other chemicals. According to the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), one fully crushed eggshell contains up to 800 mg of calcium carbonate.

Egg shells provide a quality bone substitute for cats who eat a raw diet. In cases where cats need to lower their phosphorus intake—as in cats with kidney disease—substituting eggshell for bone or bone meal is essential for optimal health. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine found that a phosphate-restricted diet positively affected renal function in healthy cats and could benefit cats with chronic kidney disease.

How do egg shells compare to calcium supplements? A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that calcium absorption was 64 percent greater from eggshell powder than pure calcium carbonate, making it an excellent choice for cats needing extra calcium.

Additionally, egg shells provide other nutrients, including:

  • Boron
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Silicon
  • Sulfur
  • Zinc

Eggshell Membrane May Offer Joint Support

Located between the eggshell and the egg white—and easily visible when you peel a boiled egg—the eggshell membrane consists of collagen and other compounds like glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid. All of these ingredients have been studied in relation to joint pain relief.

Studies show the benefits of eggshell membrane for joint and connective tissue disorders, with eggshell membrane posed as a possible treatment of pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers found that chicken eggshell membrane improved human joint health. While little research has been done using cats and eggshell membrane, positive results have been documented when testing dogs.

How Do I Feed My Cat Egg Shells?

As eggshells could cut your cat’s mouth or stomach, it’s best to grind shells into a powder before feeding them to your cat. Follow these steps to prepare an eggshell powder:

  1. Separate the egg from the shell. Make sure to keep the membrane for extra nutritional benefits.
  2. Soak the egg shells in boiling water for a few minutes to remove harmful bacteria.
  3. Remove the egg shells from the water, spread them on a baking sheet, and allow them to dry overnight.
  4. Bake the egg shells at 300 degrees F for 10 minutes to dry them further.
  5. Grind the eggshells into a powder using a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder, or spice mill. Alternatively, add the egg shells to a plastic bag and crush them into a powder using a rolling pin.
  6. Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dry location.

The NASC recommends one teaspoon of eggshell powder for every pound of meat.

Cat-Safe Eggshell Products

Not a DIY fan? Thankfully, some brands offer ready-made eggshell products.

Pet's Friend Eggshellent Calcium

  • Ingredients: 100% eggshell powder
  • Bioavailable calcium source
  • 1,900 mg calcium per serving
  • Free of artificial ingredients and fillers
  • Low in phosphorus

If you’re in the market for a raw food diet supplement, Pet’s Friend Eggshellent Calcium offers a quality source of calcium without extra unnecessary ingredients. Eggshellent Calcium consists of pasteurized eggshells ground into an ultra-fine texture. This powder easily mixes with food and includes directions for homemade food preparation.

Bark & Whiskers Joint Support

  • Active Ingredients: cetyl myristoleate (CMO), egg shell membrane, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), collagen (chicken), green-lipped mussel (perna canaliculus), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), bromelain extract (pineapple), black pepper (piper nigrum)
  • Promotes inflammation reduction and increased mobility
  • 100 mg egg shell membrane per serving
  • Free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

For those interested in eggshells for their joint-supporting benefits, Bark & Whiskers makes a quality joint supplement that includes 100 mg of eggshell membrane per chewable tablet. Other ingredients include:

  • CMO: Supports mobility and offers relief from joint pain
  • MSM: Contains sulfur, which plays a role in making collagen and glucosamine. MSM reduces inflammation and acts as an antioxidant
  • Collagen: Provides structural support to tissue and promotes tissue repair
  • Green-Lipped Mussel: A source of omega-3 fatty acids for treating pain and inflammation
  • Bromelain: An enzyme that fights inflammation and supports the immune system
  • Ascorbic Acid: Added for antioxidant protection

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Cats Eat Eggs?

Yes, cats cat eat eggs. Cooked eggs are a fantastic nutritional treat for cats. You can even purchase freeze-dried egg yolks, like these from Arya Sit!, as a tasty food topper.

What Other Human Foods Can Cats Eat?

Are you looking for other human foods for your cat? High-quality meat is the best human food for your cat; however, cats can also benefit from certain fruits and vegetables. We cover various human foods cats can eat, including blueberries, cucumbers, carrots, and yogurt.

Final Thoughts

While egg shells are often thrown away in an attempt to reach their yolky center, egg shells offer various benefits to both humans and our furry friends. Can cats eat egg shells? Absolutely! Egg shells are a quality calcium source and provide other vitamins and minerals. Just remember to prepare the egg shells properly before letting your cat enjoy this nutrient-dense treat.

Starbucks paper coffee cup and cat sitting on a bench

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