Healthy cats have a higher body temperature than humans, ranging from 101.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though cats have the reputation of being “desert animals”, in reality they actually don’t fare any better in hot weather than we do.
Unlike dogs, healthy cats don’t pant, and if they do, unless they have been exercising strenuously, this is generally a major warning sign that the cat is in physical trouble. If you notice your kitty suddenly becoming quiet and inactive in the midst of a hot day, chances are she is trying to avoid building up more body heat.
In order to get rid of their extreme heat, cats sweat through their nose leather and paw pads. Cats can suffer from heat exhaustion as their body temperature rises; which can ultimately result in heat stroke. The overheated cat’s temperature must be brought down swiftly to prevent organ damage or even death.
When the Heat of the Day Becomes Too Unbearable
While dogs tend to become restless when they start overheating, cats are different in that they can find clever ways to lower their body heat. Overheated cats lay sprawling flat- out on cold floor tiles, or hanging out in the bathtub or the basement in an attempt to cool down.
In extreme cases cats will start panting like dogs to regulate their temperature. This is a sign of intense stress. While it is always important to keep their water dishes filled with cool water to avoid cats from becoming dehydrated, it is even more critical to keep several water dishes around the house during hot weather. Some cats also enjoy ice-cubes added into their water bowls.
There are other things you can do to keep your beloved kitty cool during the summer season; especially during the month of August when the heat often becomes unbearable. Although cats love to lounge in sunny window seats or where a sunny spot appears on the carpet, keep drapes closed help to lower the house temperature. Window fans and/or air conditioners are truly great resources for helping kitties stay cool.
However, as we all know, the best way to stave off the summer heat is by eating a Popsicle; or in your kitty’s case, better known as a “catsicle.”
The Art of the Catsicle
Making a catsicle, or cat Popsicle is truly simple and easy to do. However, we have a few important recommendations for making catsicles concerning the type of ingredients you will use. Much in the same way that some people cannot digest dairy products, cats don’t easily digest lactose. Therefore, regular ice cream or milk is not suitable ingredients for this project.
If you want to make sure that the catsicle you make is appropriate for your feline-friend, be sure to follow the step-by-step guide below.
1. Picking The Right Ingredients
This is the most critical step in making a catsicle not only because of the cat’s lack of lactase, (the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose), but because you need to make sure the cat would actually enjoy the taste of the popsicle. Thankfully, there are a number of ingredients from which you can choose.
- Milk Substitutes
Cats aren’t able to digest cow’s milk because it contains large fat globules that are difficult to break down. However, your cat might be able to tolerate goat’s milk since it has smaller fat globules, containing fewer amounts of lactose and casein; a milk component to which cats tend to be allergic.
Goat’s milk is a perfect ingredient base for your catsicle. In fact, it is the go-to ingredient by most cat owners when making catsicles since it is both nutritious and freezes easily. However, if you still prefer to be on the safe side; you can also use specialized milk that is chemically-engineered for cats.
- Wet cat food
If you believe that cat food is best served straight from the can; you will be happy to know that it’s also a perfect addition to your pet’s special icy treat. By adding wet cat food to the catsicle, your cat will most likely actually appreciate and enjoy it. However, using a smooth cat food over the chunky ones is preferable because it works better.
Try buying different flavors of cat food your cat adores. But if you are trying new ones your cat hasn’t eaten before, introduce it slowly to avoid any digestive upset.
If ambrosia is the food of the gods, tuna is definitely the equivalent for cats. There is probably nothing more alluring to cats than the smell and taste of tuna. Coupled with how well it works well with other ingredients; your tuna catsicle will surely be a hit with your beloved kitty.
However, use Tuna sparingly and select white-meat tuna in preference to the red-tuna- variety since red-meat tuna carries a risk for fatty liver disease in cats. Use small pieces of tuna in creating your cat’s Catsicle, since it works better mixing well with other ingredients.
- Chicken broth
Low-sodium chicken broth is a good substitute for water as the main solidifying and blending ingredient in your catsicle. However, some cats are allergic to chicken. If your cat happens to be allergic to chicken, use plain water or substitutes such as low-sodium beef broth or vegetable broth. Be careful that that any broth you use doesn’t contain onions since they are highly toxic for cats.
A word of Caution: Salt, Sugar, and Caffeine
Moderation is everything when it comes to choosing ingredients for your catsicle as well as just feeding your cat.
Avoid giving your cat too much sodium or sugar. Salt is fine in small amounts but too much can cause your cat excessive thirst and urination. In extreme cases, your cat may even be at risk for sodium- ion poisoning. If your cat is exhibiting the following signs such as diarrhea, vomiting or having seizures, contact your veterinarian, or poison control immediately for advice, since your cat may have consumed too much salt
For this reason, it’s wise to moderate the use of tuna and other ingredients with high salt content. Since the purpose of the cold catsicle treats is to help cool down your cat during a hot day, you wouldn’t want to ruin that by elevating her body temperature due to excessive salt content.
On the other hand, while sugar isn’t necessarily dangerous to cats, too much sugar can cause cats to become overweight or to develop cat diabetes. Sugar also can wreak havoc with your cat’s dental health. What’s more, since cats lack taste buds that react to sweet substances, there’s no need to add sugar to your catsicle ingredients.
Artificial sweeteners are toxic to cats, so be careful that none of the ingredients you are using contain them. These are the reasons that you should tone down the use of these substances in your cat’s ice-cold treats.
Now let’s discuss the human foods to avoid adding to your icicle mixture. Never include chocolate, coffee or anything containing caffeine in the catsicles. No matter how much you love chocolate and coffee, you should never feed them to cats since they both contain theobromine, a chemical that is highly toxic to cats.
2. Mix & Match
You can choose more than one ingredient and combine them in a way that will be enticing to your cat. Put food aesthetics aside since your cat could care less about that. However, its texture and taste play a big factor in your cat’s enjoyment, so be sure to match ingredients properly and be certain that they complement each other well.
Some mixtures may include goat’s milk and chicken broth, wet cat food and a few tablespoons of milk substitutes, or chicken broth, tuna and milk substitutes, or tuna and broth. The sky’s the limit when it comes to mixing and matching these ingredients. During this process being creative is the “cat’s meow.”
- Prepare a mixing bowl and place your ingredients inside. It’s up to you how much of the ingredients you want to use.
- Start stirring to mix the ingredients together. You may have to add water, milk, or broth to make the mixture’s consistency to your liking.
- Start stirring the mixture to blend the ingredients together. You may have to add water, milk, or broth to make the mixture more consistent.
- Once they have been mixed well, then pour the mixture into a container.
- You are free to choose whatever type of container you like. You have a number of options from ice cube trays to Dixie cups and even Popsicle molds which are available at many stores, or order them online.
- After pouring the mixture into the containers, then start placing the Popsicle sticks into the mixture.
3. Freezing & Storage
Of course your Catsicles must be frozen otherwise it won’t be fun for your cat. Proper freezing and storing should be observed so that your catsicle will freeze properly and avoid getting freezer burn.
- The first thing you should do when storing and freezing your catsicle mixture is to prepare a container, either using plastic wrap or Tupperware to avoid any spillage, uneven freezing, and getting a freezer burn.
- Once you have placed the mixture in the freezer, keep it there for at least 24 hours. Although you may be able to get frozen catsicles sooner than expected, be patient. By letting them sit in the freezer for 24 hours will help them freeze perfectly.
- If you freeze your cat popsicles absolutely correctly, they may even last for up to six months.
Once the catsicles are completely frozen, it’s time to serve it to your cat who is after all, the “master of the house.”
Try running warm water over the bottom of the container before you take the catsicles out so that it will be easier for you to take the icy treats out without breaking them.
After removing the catsicle, you can immediately serve it to your beloved feline companion. If you want to make sure that the treats won’t upset your cat’s stomach, try giving it to her 10 to 15 minutes before taking it away and then carefully observe her reaction.
These treats are best served by you holding the Popsicle stick while your cat indulges in the fabulous taste of this irresistible treat. But if you don’t have the time to do this, to avoid a mess just place it inside your cat’s feeding bowl.