Recently, the internet has been inundated with cats vs cucumbers videos, featuring cats going ballistic by the mere sight of a cucumber. In many of these videos, cat owners are seen sneaking up on their pet while its attention is in the opposite direction, or even with a bowl of food. They then proceed to leave a long, green curvy cucumber behind them. And upon sighting the unexpected object as it turns around, the cat becomes frantic, jumps high into the air, and scampers away from the item as fast as it can. Once it has made it to a safe distance, the kitty will then wait for the object to make the first move, which is all in vain.
Yes, it would appear that a stealthy predator like the cat, which would fearlessly explore the darkest corners and unfamiliar environments, and would think nothing of scaling tall walls and bouncing off the bookshelves is, in fact, petrified at the sight of a common vegetable. However, experts on animal behavior have revealed that terrifying your pet cat with a cucumber is not good at all, so you might need to think twice before pulling this type of prank on your four-legged friend. So, the question is – what gives? Why are our feline friends afraid of cucumbers? Continue reading to find out more.
A Shock Response
Well, to be fair to the feline population, we have not seen any videos of cats sighting a cucumber from afar, and displaying that extreme reaction. Thus, it may well be explained that it is the unexpected appearance of the long vegetable that scared it and not the cucumber itself. According to experts, the cat is naturally reacting to the unexpectedness of turning to find an unusually shaped object furtively position in the vicinity while its head was still down in the cat food bowl. It may even be possible that the appearance of an unexpected pumpkin will cause a similar reaction.
The sudden appearance of the cucumber just helped in triggering the kitty’s innate startle response and once a cat’s startle response is at hyper-alert, it would react by exiting the scene with the speed of lightning and then move to a safer distance to reassess the situation from there, and perhaps ready itself for an imminent battle.
The obvious conclusion is that the response is not specifically due to the long green vegetable, but the fact that the cat was not privy to the circumstances that brought it close, or when it can to be in that position. Even we humans tend to be afraid of things that are capable of sneaking upon us, and cats are no different.
Fear of the Unknown
In further explanation, cats are generally known to view any rapidly moving object with suspicion, especially if the creature or object lights up intermittently, makes too much noise, or represents an incomprehensible form. This type of behavior isn’t far removed from the possible reactions from other animals, and this includes humans.
Besides, we should note that cats are majorly solitary creatures whilst human beings are very sociable – thus, humans already represent a baffling image to a cat and going on to freak out these adorable companions with unexpected cucumbers may not be helping matters. Cats are wired to be constantly conscious of the unknown as it may well turn out to a marauding snake, or any other lurking predator. Additionally, experts are of the opinion that similar reactions may arise if a cat is suddenly presented with other objects like a human face mask, a plastic fish, or even a model spider.
Cucumbers Have a Close Resemblance to Snakes
Even to a more discerning human being, cucumbers would initially give the impression that you are looking at a snake, and you wouldn’t blame the cat so much for towing the same line of thought – this would only activate the cat’s instinctive fear of snakes. It would either bounce into the air or flee in fear.
According to experts, the feline population is genetically hard-wired to avoid snakes at all costs – hence, this instinct does not hesitate to kick-in upon sighting anything that has a close resemblance to snakes. This intuitive fear may result in panic for your furry friend, which is quite unpleasant.
What’s more, upon sighting or feeling anything slithering on the ground, cats often react by jumping high up in the air – an intuitive behavior to protect itself against snake bites. Reports further revealed that even eggplant or the ears of a corn are likely to trigger the same reaction, and the cucumber with its curvy sides and greenish appearance looks even more like a snake – thus, the cat’s assumption that the long vegetable might be a snake cannot be tagged an unreasonable one, since it didn’t hear as the cucumber approached; rather, the thing suddenly appeared.
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The Side Effects of Scarring a Cat
A possible side effect of staging these pranks might cause your kitty excess stress, which is still far from healthy. The resultant stress may yet turn out to be long-term and can engender a more serious mental health challenge. Moreover, tricking your pet cat into believing that a snake is lurking in the vicinity can result in serious injuries as the cat speedily jumps into the air, or scampers away with more haste than caution. The cat might even break something in its attempt to leap away – this amounts to damage in the home which will represent unplanned expenses.
Another report revealed that such pranks not only risks inflicting the poor kitty with psychological damage, but it might also develop a natural fear, not only of cucumbers but also of the environment where it encountered the long vegetable.
To summarize, the hair-raising debates on why cats are frightened by cucumbers are still inconclusive, we can only go by these submissions from experts, while we wait to hear their conclusion on the matter.
- Cats Scared By Cucumbers: Knowing the Facts Behind the Viral Phenomenon – PetMD
- Cats and Cucumbers – Our Behavior Expert Talks About Why Cats Are Freaking Out – Cornell Feline Health Center