Why Are Cats Afraid of Cucumbers? 2 Reasons for the Behavior

Last Updated: March 18, 2021

Chances are high that you’ve seen viral videos of cats reacting in sometimes dramatic ways to the sudden appearance of a cucumber. The cats almost always leap into the air in fright, making for a hilarious but somewhat cruel prank. These videos are all over the internet, and it seems that almost all cats have the same reaction to this benign fruit. But the question remains: Why?

In this article, we’ll take a look at the two most likely reasons that cats are so afraid of cucumbers and why you shouldn’t try this popular prank at home on your unsuspecting feline (no matter how strong the temptation!).

divider-cat

They mistake the cucumber for a snake

While there is no definitive answer as to exactly why cats are so afraid of cucumbers, most experts agree that it is not the fruit itself that they are afraid of, as many cats enjoy the taste of cucumber. There are indeed videos of would-be cat prankers who slyly place the fruit close to an unsuspecting cat, only to find the cat begins to snack on it!

Of course, there is no real reason for a cat to be afraid of cucumber or any other fruit or vegetable, and most experts agree that the most likely reason for the cat’s reaction is that they mistake the cucumber for a snake. Cats have an innate instinct to avoid snakes, and a cucumber resembles a serpent enough that it evokes an extreme reaction, albeit a brief one. The cucumber is long and green, like most snakes, and the cat’s instinctive reaction is to leap into the air as high as possible to avoid being bitten.

More proof of this theory lies in the fact that almost anything elongated, such as a rubber snake, will evoke the same reaction, ruling out the cucumber itself as the culprit.

cat and cucumber on the table
Image Credit: CuteCatsHQ, Flickr

The sudden appearance catches them off-guard

Cats are notoriously alert and instinctive animals and are acutely aware of their surroundings. In all these viral videos, the cucumber is placed secretly behind the cat while they are sleeping or eating, and it is the sudden appearance of something that wasn’t there before that gives them such a fright.

Cats are careful and fussy eaters and will generally only begin eating when they are sure that the coast is clear and that there are no other cats or dogs around their food bowls. The sudden appearance of the cucumber that wasn’t there a second ago — and is shaped like a snake — is enough to send them leaping into the air. The same can be said of sleeping cats. Cats generally have a safe and comfortable place where they enjoy their daily nap, and the sudden appearance of a cucumber or almost any strange object is startling to them.

Why you should never scare cats with cucumbers

Cats have dramatic startle reactions, and it can be hilarious to watch them leap into the air at the mere sight of a cucumber. But in truth, the prank is not all that funny when you think about it, least of all for the cat! This reaction can cause health concerns for your feline and should never be purposely afflicted on them.

Firstly, the sudden leaping into the air can easily cause injury to your cat or another pet or human close by. They could potentially knock into something sharp or break nearby glass and hurt themselves. This seemingly innocent prank can also cause prolonged stress for the cat, and it may take a good few hours for their heart rate to come down and for them to finally feel calm. Mealtimes or naptimes may become an event filled with anxiety and be difficult to overcome. This sustained anxiety has been shown to cause immune issues and gut issues, potentially leading to a shorter lifespan.

Frightened cat
Image Credit: Alikai, Flickr

What if they’re already afraid of cucumbers?

If the prank has been played on your cat already and any elongated object now frightens them, you’ll need to correct the behavior. Try and introduce the cucumber slowly and calmly to them, and repeat the process over several days until they become used to it. Also, never purposely frighten them again, as this will probably undo all your hard work.

divider-cat

Final Thoughts

According to experts, it is most likely that cats have no issue with cucumber itself, but rather it’s the circumstances around it that trigger their natural instincts. In any case, most experts also agree that it can be highly detrimental to your cat’s health for them to be frightened too often, and no matter how funny the viral videos seem, it’s a prank that should not be continued.


Featured Image: tugol, Shutterstock