Why Are Cats Afraid of Cucumbers?
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve already seen the videos—cats being scared of cucumbers, cats running away from cucumbers, and cats generally losing their cool when they confront a cucumber.
As one of the latest internet trends surrounding pets, scaring cats with cucumbers has become a very popular activity in various parts of the world. It combines so many things that the internet loves: cats, silliness, and the unexpected!
The premise is simple: put some food down for your cat and—while it’s eating—place a cucumber behind them. When they turn around and see the cucumber, they’ll be incredibly frightened, jumping back and perhaps even running away briskly.
It doesn’t work on every cat, but there are enough instances of it working charms that people have begun uploading video after video of them doing it to their own felines, documenting the results.
Seems harmless enough, right? Well, actually, it’s much more complicated than that. It can actually have a negative impact on your cat if you’re not careful. Startling your cat triggers many natural symptoms that cause them unnecessary stress.
In fact, National Geographic recently published an article in which experts asserted that scaring your cats with cucumbers isn’t just silly, but harmful for your pet.
In order to understand why this is, though, we’ll have to explain what is exactly occurring when you scare your cat with a cucumber.
Why Does This Happen?
The first thing to reiterate about this phenomenon is that you are scaring your cat. This isn’t a fact that is disputed, as that’s literally what’s happening.
However, the key difference lies in how differently humans react to being scared as cats do. Because humans work in different ways than our feline friends, we view their shock as something silly. It’s just a cucumber, so why would it be scary?
Cat-behavior expert John Bradshaw argues that the reason why it happens is that the cat’s natural hunting instincts are triggered.
While cats are eating, they are focused on the food in front of them, having already scanned the area for any potential threats. This is also unlikely to happen in the environment where they usually live, so they continue eating like normal.
However, when you place a cucumber behind them while they’re eating, you disrupt a very intimate part of their routine.
They are focusing on their food in a safe environment only to turn around and see a large, mysterious object behind them, naturally making them feel unsafe.
You have to understand that cats also see cucumbers differently—because they are not a part of their regular diet, they don’t associate the vegetable with anything specific.
This leaves them being afraid of the cucumber due to its ominous shape. The general shape of cucumber also suggests that it could be another animal and potentially predator.
For example, snakes are one predator that a cat could be afraid of when they see a cucumber. Despite the vegetable not being a real threat, the cat’s natural senses are already triggered, causing it to become very frightened.
As a result of being naturally startled, the cat will follow their instinct, removing themselves from the area as quickly as possible.
This often results in shocked expressions, quickly running, or leaping away from the cucumber, causing many humans making or watching the videos to laugh incessantly.
Scaring Your Cats Can Be Harmful to Them
Humans have different ways of processing emotions than cats, especially when our surroundings are concerned. This is why we find a cucumber in one’s kitchen to be an inconsequential thing.
It seems so silly, so obviously not threatening that we take it for granted, not ascribing it to any sort of threat level.
This is very different for a domesticated cat. Because their entire life is centered around a controlled environment, they perceive the world on a much smaller scale than humans do.
As a result, their surroundings also carry more weight, with specific areas being trustworthy and not.
When you introduce a new, unfamiliar item into their normal territory, you run the risk of deeply scaring them. This produces a significant amount of stress that can actually be harmful to your pet.
Cat expert Pam Johnson-Bennett considers the practice to be cruel because it not only encourages people to scare their cat, but also laugh at them in the process and get others to do so as well.
Again, the cucumber might look like a predator, but the real threat to the cat is that something was placed within their vicinity without them noticing.
This causes them to have a distrust for not just the environment they’re occupying, but also the way they perceive the world.
This is why the process of scaring your cat with cucumber can be harmful to them. You don’t want to put your cat through unnecessary psychological distress, as it could affect their psyche in the long run.
For example, cats that are frequently affected by stress could develop a type of anxiety disorder, causing them to be on edge most of the time and not be able to effectively handle the world around them.
Cats that have issues with anxiety might suddenly become distrustful of the world around them, chasing shadows and other things that don’t pose an actual threat.
If you’re interested in learning more about the adverse effects that stress can induce on your cat, we recommend checking out this video from the BRIGHT SIDE that goes into more detail.
Harm Could Be Just Around the Corner
Another important thing to consider when wondering why scaring your cat with a cucumber could be a bad thing is that when a cat assumes there is a deadly predator nearby, they need to get out of the area at all costs.
Because their life could potentially be at stake, they can run away in a manner that isn’t very safe, causing them to knock things over or run into something harmful.
If this were to happen, the cat could put themselves in serious danger by running away from something that wasn’t dangerous in the first place. Harm can always be around the corner, so don’t put your cat in that position.
Spend Quality Time With Your Pets Instead
Instead of shaming your pets into not being able to trust the environment around them, it is best to try healthier ways of communicating with them.
For example, introducing new toys into your cat’s environment typically requires a safe routine. This makes it possible for you to not trigger their natural instinct and potentially cause them stress in the process.
Those who are interested in introducing toys to their cats in a safe manner should look into this video which goes into more detail regarding the process.
Finding the Right Toys for Your Cat
Being able to have fun with your cat is something that all pet owners should strive for. Having a positive relationship that allows you to play, interact, and be good friends with your cat is very important.
However, you should be dubious of ways to play that might be fun for you, but ultimately negative for your cat. Because it can be very easy for humans to misread situations when it involves how pets perceive things, don’t be afraid to do your own research.
Looking into how your cat processes the world can be a great way to become closer to your pet and provide better care for them.
The real moral of the story is that you shouldn’t necessarily do something because you saw it on the internet. Many internet trends seem harmless but are actually negative activities that should be avoided if possible.
There are plenty of other ways to play with your cat that are fun, engaging, and healthy. For those of you who are interested in new ways to play with your cat, we recommend you check out this article detailing some of the top-selling cat toys on Amazon.