Owner of Feline Purrfect Ice Cream
While Victor Lenguyen makes delectable treats for humans, he really has a sweet spot for animals! Since starting Feline Purrfect Ice Cream, he’s connected with his patrons through a shared passion for pets. He also uses his business to advocate for adoptable cats and donates a portion of proceeds to support San Diego Humane Society! In our Animal People interview, Victor tells us about the animals who’ve shaped his life and taught him a lesson in happiness.
Have animals always been a big part of your life?
At first, animals were not such a big part of my life. My mom was a single parent to four boys, working two to three jobs at a time, and we didn’t have the resources or time to have a pet. We were always going to some appointment, grocery shopping, at school or visiting someone. When we did have any resemblance of free time, my three older brothers were off with their social circles and I was pretty much by myself. Being the youngest, I didn’t exactly have a say in those decisions. I did sneak in a few pet bugs when I was in elementary school — grasshoppers, a roly-poly and even a few tadpoles from a nearby lake. Eventually I’d let each of them go back into the wild, because whatever container I had was just too small for them to thrive. In high school, one of my friends helped me set up a fish tank in our living room. My mom was not exactly thrilled when she came home one day and saw this, but she was kind enough to let me keep it. I loved the fish and made sure every little structure and pebble in their tank was clean and all the fish got along.
Who were the first animals to make an impact on your life?
I wasn’t able to keep my fish in college, but I was grateful for the fond memories of my time with them. I was spending a lot of my time alone studying when a tabby cat came into my life. I named her Mittens because of the cute marking on her paws. She didn’t have a collar and looked rather healthy and well taken care of, but would always come to our backyard around 3 p.m. for her typical order of tuna and some milk. That was always followed by some petting and a sun bath. After taking my senior year finals, I was crying in the backyard because I felt like I failed the classes that I needed to pass that semester. I felt alone with my negative thoughts, and Mittens seemed to appear out of thin air. She meowed and rubbed against me and those thoughts were replaced by relief and happiness. That day became extra special to me, as I pet her and got her a little more tuna. She gave me emotional support and brought me happiness. I did end up passing those college classes, but it was an emotional bashing!
Are there any special pets in your life now?
I spend a lot of time with my stepdad’s dog, Roxy. She’s your typical stubborn (and rather crafty) shiba inu. It took two years of us knowing each other for her to get to like me. I enjoy walking her and find it cute how happy dogs are when they’re walking. Now I try to find any excuse to go on road trips or take her to any dog-friendly outdoor areas, because she really loves both.
What inspired you to open Feline Purrfect Ice Cream?
I was tired after my contract was done with my previous job, and I started thinking about what makes me happy. Dairy, cats, puns and agriculture all make me happy. Then I just threw all four ideas together and started learning how to make ice cream with vegetables in it. It just left a smile on my face. Most people couldn’t taste the vegetables, but some are hesitant to even try such a product. Finally, I had a business that reflects fully who I am and what I stand for.
My love of cats inspired the name for Feline Purrfect Ice Cream, and I can understand when folks think the ice cream is made for cats! But when I’m at the farmers market and hear a kid yell, “ICE CREAM! Mommy, can we get ice cream?!” I feel that’s the only advertising I need. I love working at farmers markets because you meet such nice people.
How have you used your ice cream business to give back to the animals you love?
I use my social media accounts to help find homes for cats in the care of San Diego Humane Society. I try to also raise awareness that SDHS has a website that people can easily navigate to find other pets. I don’t have a celebrity status with a huge following, but I still try to do what I can to find loving homes for animals. I even have a standing picture frame of each cat I’m helping find a home when I go sell ice cream. I’m surprised how many people are willing to stop and just look at a picture of a cat. I don’t make much selling ice cream, but I do what I can to donate from my own sales and ask others to donate.
I remember hearing a quote that says something along the lines of, “If everyone just brought a pinch of sand, we could make a beach together.” I just recommend doing what you can when you can. Post on your social media about an animal looking for a home and donate a few dollars if you can.
What do animals bring to your life?
I always hear so many different stories from people about their pets. Some have had their pets recently pass away, some pets just gave birth to a litter, and a whole range of stories. A lot of people have a bunch of pictures of their pets on their phones and are more than delighted to show them to me when I ask. I feel bad when I have to stop someone from telling me a story or showing me their pictures when there’s a line forming behind them at my stand. I think it’s impossible to replicate that happiness animals give us. That feeling is present in the people in my life, and my goal is just to have a small place on this Earth to nurture that kind of atmosphere with others.
Are animals a big part of your future goals?
Part of my dream is to own a cat lounge, because I believe they are important places for people to really get to know how a cat interacts and behaves. I think it can make it easier to find a pet who is the right fit for your life when you get to know them. I also encourage people to brush up on animal body language. Just because a cat ignores someone or doesn’t want to be picked up or put on the lap, it doesn’t mean something negative. I want to create a place where happiness can thrive.
While your ice cream is made for humans, do you have any recipes for feline-friendly ice cream?
I have made cat-friendly ice cream before, but it can be tricky because every cat has their likes and dislikes. Adult cats aren’t really supposed to have a lot of dairy products, and the average cat is lactose intolerant, so it’s better to avoid those ingredients.
With that disclaimer, I would recommend mushing either bananas, avocados or coconuts (coconut cream works, too) in any container that can fit in your freezer. Play around to find which your cat likes. Those three substitutes are great at imitating a creamy texture without having to rely on sugar or dairy. Add your cat’s favorite wet food to the mix. Cover the top of the container and put everything into the freezer for about two to three hours (or until you can easily scoop out your “ice cream” with a spoon). If you really want to be adventurous, you can add in small treats or put catnip on the top. Every pet is unique, so play around to find what they like.
Published: March 7, 2022