Cats are scared of cucumbers (especially those that are deliberately placed behind them) because it’s their natural reaction to anything that sneaks up on them without making any noise. Cats tend to be scared or wary of the unknown, as it could represent the danger of a predator, and in the case of a cucumber, a snake.
If you are neither a fan of cat videos nor have a cat as a pet, you probably might not know this (I certainly didn’t), at least until a few months ago.
The other day, I was whiling away the hours on the Internet by clicking on arbitrary video links and watching absolutely random clips. Somehow, while watching videos of toddlers tasting lemons for the first time, I landed on pet videos. When I was done watching a video or two, I saw the thumbnail of a video entitled ‘cats scared of cucumbers compilation’. At that time, I didn’t know that cats were scared of cucumbers, and that such videos had actually gone viral on the Internet at one point. Naturally, I clicked on the video out of sheer curiosity.
In the video, cats of different types were recorded leaping in the air out of sheer shock and fear upon seeing a cucumber. Yes, just your average, green cucumber!
As funny as the exaggerated reactions of those petrified cats seemed to people, not many could understand why a seemingly harmless green object could invoke such a strong reaction from our feline friends.
Cats are scared of objects sneaking up on them
As it turns out, it’s not the cucumber placed surreptitiously behind a cat, but pretty much anything that sneaks up on a cat could potentially terrify it. Cats are sharp and alert animals, and as such, they always keep their guard up and have good situational awareness.
If you have seen such videos of cats getting scared of cucumbers, you might have noticed that cucumbers are deliberately put behind cats when they are peacefully enjoying a meal with their heads buried in their food bowl. Cats only eat when they are sure that they are not immediately threatened by anything/anyone in the vicinity; in other words, cats associate their ‘food stations’ as areas where they are perfectly safe and secure.
As such, when a cat spots a green cucumber lying on the floor behind them, it freaks the cat out because the cat didn’t expect it to be there. “I think that the reaction is due to the novelty and unexpectedness of finding an unusual object secretly placed while their heads were down in the food bowl,” says Dr Roger Mugford, an animal behavior specialist. Cats wouldn’t normally find cucumbers lying on the floor, so the sheer novelty of the whole thing freaks them out.
Cats may associate cucumbers with snakes
Another reason cats may be scared of cucumbers is because they may associate cucumbers with snakes, which are deadly predators that can attack/eat cats. According to Jill Goldman, a certified animal behaviorist in southern California, cucumbers may seem like snakes to cats, thanks to the green, elongated exterior that these vegetables have.
Why you shouldn’t scare cats with cucumbers
Seeing a cat jump in the air out of sheer fright might make you laugh real hard, but it’s not actually amusing, at least to the cat that’s being subjected to this experience.
As mentioned earlier, cats get really scared by the sudden appearance of a green invader, which triggers their natural “startle responses” and makes them want to get away as soon as they can (hence the leap in the air). In a bid to get away from the perceived ‘green threat’, a cat may break something, hurt others in the vicinity or even injure itself. It may also lead to prolonged stress for the cat.
Trying to scare a cat like this is not just wrong, but actually quite cruel. That’s why, if you want your cat to not be scared of cucumbers, it’s best if you ‘introduce’ your pet to cucumbers gradually. And yes, you should do it from a safe distance.