If your cat stares at you when you're eating ice cream, it can be tempting to share your tasty snack. But milk-based products can have some pretty unpleasant side effects for your feline friend. Cats don't have enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose in dairy products, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A little ice cream might cause your cat to vomit or have diarrhea.

But there are much safer options that will keep your cat purring and free from nasty issues. They have the added benefit of helping to keep your pet hydrated. Because cats can be quirky about drinking water, they often don't get enough liquid, which can lead to urinary tract problems down the road.

Here are several frozen treats to keep your cat refreshed and hydrated all year long.

Ice cube surprises

Zookeepers often use ice cubes as enrichment for big cats. They freeze big blocks of ice with tasty surprises inside like chunks of meat or even fruit. You can skip the slabs of raw meat and think smaller. For your cat, use ice cube trays or cups and toss in tiny pieces of tuna or kibble. To entice your cat to keep licking, you may want to drizzle in a little tuna water or gravy, suggests Animal Planet.

Food-sicles

Take your cat's wet food and mix in a few pieces of dry kibble. Shape the mixture in small mounds on a cookie sheet and freeze. Your kitty will love licking her way through the tasty meal and finding crunchy surprise bits. You can feed your cat her normal portion this way or stagger it out in smaller amounts throughout the day.

To get the benefit of more liquid, add the wet food to a blender with a little additional water, then freeze in ice cube trays or cups.

Kitty ice cream

cat eating fancy ice cream Your homemade cat ice cream may not look this fancy, but your pet won't care. (Photo: Nizar Alabdallah/Shutterstock)

Buy special cat milk at your favorite pet store. (This isn't kitten milk, but a milk-like drink for adult cats. Brands include Cat-Sip and CatSure.) Pour the milk into a plastic sandwich bag, then add half a can of wet cat food. Seal that bag tightly and add a second bag. Then put it in a gallon bag with lots of ice and some kosher or rock salt. Roll around the bag for about 15 minutes. Hattie's Blog has step-by-step instructions with the result being some delicious (for your cat) homemade kitty ice cream.

Frozen banana bites

Some cats are a little persnickety and might not like fruit, but for those who have daring palates, try these refreshing treats. Just puree some bananas and pour them into ice cube trays. Add a little crunch, if you'd like, by tossing in a few pieces of kibble.

Put any one of these special treats on a saucer and let your furry friend enjoy something tasty. You can have your own ice cream in peace while knowing your cat is getting a healthy, feline-friendly snack.

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.