Ever since we first learned that pet owners were scaring their cats with cucumbers, we’ve been waiting for an old-timey newscaster to say, “We interrupt this broadcast to tell you that cats are afraid of cucumbers.”
If you haven’t already heard, a new viral video trend involves people putting a cucumber behind their cat to see how they’ll react when they turn around and see it. In some cases, the kitty could care less. In others, the feline becomes terrified as it leaps into the air or runs for cover.
So, what’s up with cats and cucumbers?
“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,” explains animal behavior specialist Dr. Roger Mugford. “Cats have to be suspicious of the unknown: It could represent the danger of a snake or another predator. I suspect that there would be the same reaction to a model spider, a plastic fish or a human face mask.”
Other animal-loving scientists are not amused by these videos. “If you cause stress to an animal, that’s probably not a good thing,” says certified animal behaviorist Jill Goldman. “If you do it for laughs it makes me question your humanity.”
According to Think Like a Cat‘s author Pam Johnson-Bennett, cats often see their feeding station as a place of safety and comfort. Since many people are placing the cucumbers behind their cats while they’re eating, this confuses the animals. After all, it’s not normal for a rogue cucumber to make a surprise appearance near the cat food.
As for their desire to hide, Golden reveals, “With a startle response, a cat will often try to get out of there as quickly as possible and then reassess from a distance.”
Now – if you have a cat – we’d like you to look that cat in the eye and say, “I promise I won’t try to scare you with a cucumber in the name of YouTube views.”
[Image via YouTube]