The Reason Why Cats Are Afraid Of Cucumbers

Despite the best efforts of cats everywhere to act like they're too cool for school, their undoing can be engineered with the blandest of fruits: the cucumber. Yes, cucumbers are technically fruits

According to some amazing internet videos, while cats are eating, some loving owners will sneak up and delicately place cucumbers behind them. Putting these two bastions of coolness in close proximity results in a polarity shift within cats' coolness zones, sending them leaping towards the heavens in a mix of shock and fear. 

According to the National Park Service, the 130 million domestic and stray cats in the US are responsible for killing billions of animals per year. So why would this lethal species be so afraid of an inert piece of plant matter? 

One popular hypothesis is that cats mistake cucumbers for snakes upon first glance. According to animal behaviorist and author Con Slobodchikoff, "cucumbers trigger an instinctive response to avoid snakes, causing an involuntary reaction, which we usually see in the form of a vertical leap. "If a cat sees something slithering over the ground," Slobodchikoff told ABC News, "the cat often will jump a couple of feet up in the air, a behavior that prevents getting bitten by a snake."

In theory, anything shaped like a cylinder should net a similar response, but Slobochikoff posits that compared to other veggies like, say, an eggplant or an ear of corn, cucumbers' "curving sides" make them look more like snakes overall. Sounds legit.

Beware though, that scaring a cat comes with consequences. Cat Health warns that this seemingly lighthearted joke could actually result in injury to the cat, destruction of your property due to an airborne feline, or worst of all, it could cause long term anxiety for your animal. 

This unwanted surprise cucumber attack is a stressor for cats, especially when placed in the "safe zone" around its feeding dish. This stress can lead to anxiety, which MNN reports can include a slew of unwanted behaviors like vomiting, aggression, and excessive vocalization. 

So while it may seem funny to see your cat lose its "cool as a cucumber" persona, the cucumber prank can cause a lot more trouble than it's worth — for both you and your pet.