Although being the commonly used term, Melon is confusing while talking about the fruit category.
In this article, we will focus on Melon fruits from a culinary point of view, meaning mostly the Muskmelon, the Cantaloupe, the Honeydew Melon, and the Watermelon.
Melons are plants from the Cucurbitaceae family, also named cucurbits or gourd family. They are mostly growing on the ground, but some can also rise on a stick like a vine.
Pumpkins, squashes, and cucumbers are notable Cucurbitaceae but classified as vegetable culinary wise so we will ignore them.
We are concentrating on the fruits, which are edible, sweet, and fleshy.
Watermelons have a hard rind and no internal divisions. Inside, the flesh is sweet and juicy, colored red or pink. They often have many black seeds, although seedless varieties exist.
118 million tonnes of watermelon were produced in 2017, China being the main producer with 67% of the worldwide production.
Watermelons are usually dispatched into 4 categories:
- Seeded or picnic watermelon, are the iconical ones, rounded and ground rind with red flesh and black seeds, weighing from 6 to 20 kg. Popular ones are Allsweet, Black Diamond, Charleston Gray, Crimson Sweet, and Jubilee.
- Seedless, popular as convenient, their weight is around 6 kg. Popular varieties are Crimson, Jack of Hearts, King of Hearts, Millionaire, Nova, Queen of Hearts, and Trio.
- Icebox watermelons are small and can fit inside a fridge. They are still weighing from 2 to 7 kg though... Sugar baby and Tiger baby are two popular ones.
- Yellow/Orange per their flesh color, weighing from 4 to 14 kg The main ones would be Desert King, Tendergold, Yellow Baby, and Yellow Doll.
In Japan, some former grow watermelons in glass boxes to give them a cubical shape. Easier to store in the fridge, the price can reach 80 USD.
The direct benefit to your cat is nutritional: Watermelon contains Protein, Vitamins B3, B5, B6, Vitamins C, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, and Potassium.
It is also an interesting alternative if your cat is mildly constipated. And can be used to hydrate it if your feline is not drinking enough.
But always moderate the quantity of course.
If you treat your cat with Watermelon, remove the seeds first! They are small and easy to swallow, even for a cat. They are toxic and can trigger Vomiting and Diarrhea reactions.
Even these symptoms are not often considered dangerous, they are the combination to dehydrate your cat quickly which can even be deadly in extreme scenarios.
Careful, the seedless watermelons often contain small white edible seeds, they are still toxic for cats.
Muskmelon or Cucumis melo
Named Muskmelon, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, or Winter melon, they are all plants from the same species: the Cucumis melo.
In 2016, the worldwide production of Cucumis melo was 31.2 million tons with China producing 51% of them.
The Yubari King melons are hard to find as they grow in a small region in Japan. Said to be the juiciest and sweetest melon in the world, a perfectly proportioned pair of these can cost around 20,000 USD.
Is Cantaloupe safe for my cat?
Do not worry if you find your cat licking a slice of Cantaloupe left on the table. They are safe for cats and actually, most of them like melons.
You can use them as a treat in a reasonably small amount, or as part of their diet. They will bring vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as Iron and Magnesium.
Preferably, remove the skin and the seeds and mash the flesh to prevent a choking hazard. As they are sweet fruits, do not overfeed your cat with melons or they could face obesity and trigger diabetes.
Check our dedicated page about the Cucumis Melo
This species contains a lot of cultivars - cultivated variety - and some of them are particularly famous and known under their unique common names. Let's discover them.
The Muskmelon is the common name to a melon of the main species, the Cucumis melo. It is not a cultivar.
Cantaloupe - Cultivar Group Cantalupo
The Cantaloupe is light green and yellow outside with orange flesh and can weigh up to 5 kg.
In Europe, they use the cultivar synonyms cantalupensis while in North America, they will use reticulatus.
Other popular names for cantaloupe are rockmelon, sweet melon, or spanspek.
Cultivar Group Inodorus
The cultivar group Inodorus contains the Honeydew, also named White Antibes in Southern France and Algeria, and Bailan melon in China.
It is a melon 15 to 22 cm, with a weight from 1.8 to 3.6 kg. The flesh is green and the skin gradient from green to yellow.
The Crenshaw is yellow/green outside with pink/peach flesh. Its weight is about 4 to 5 kg.
The Casaba Melon has a bright yellow thick rind and pale green flesh. Its flavor is not strong and is comparable to cucumber. As it can stay many months, it is also called a Winter Melons.
Canary Melon is also bright yellow with pale green flesh and an oval shape.
Santa Claus Melon, also named Christmas Melon, is native to Spain. It is dark green outside with strip on the skin. The flesh is white and greenish.
Lastly, the Honey Globe is round, white with green marks. The flesh is white too. It is one of the sweetest melons with around 20% of sugar.
Cultivar Group Makuwa
The Makuwa group is also referred to as Oriental melon or Korean melon. The varieties are mostly green or yellow, about 500 gr, and 10 to 15 cm long. It is less sweet than Western cultivars and is commonly eaten whole as the rind is thin.
Its binomial name is Sicana odorifera, however, this long fruit is commonly known under cassabanana, casbanan, sikana, puttigel, or musk cucumber.
The flesh's color is yellow and orange. The external skin can have a diverse color with yellow and orange being common as well.
As of now, there is not enough information regarding its toxicity for cats or pets in general.
Check our dedicated page about the Cassabanana
This species shape is a bit unique as it is covered with spikes, which gave it the name horned melon or spiked melon. Two other popular names are jelly melon and kiwano.
Same issue as with the musk cucumber mentioned before, we are missing information so we can't pronounce an opinion. Better avoiding it.
Check our dedicated page about the Horned Melon