Why Do Cats Hate Cucumbers?

Published May 31, 2018
Cat playing with cucumber

A series of videos of cats reacting to cucumbers may leave you curious about if cats hate cucumbers and why. Replicating these popular cat videos may not be the best thing for your cat, however.

Cats and Cucumber Videos

Around 2015, YouTube users began posting videos of their cats reacting hysterically to cucumbers placed next to them while they were eating. The vegetables are placed quietly behind the cats' backs so the cats do not notice them until they turn away from their bowl. Some cats back away in fear, others leap high in the air and far away, and others race away in terror.

Do Cats Hate Cucumbers?

There's no definitive answer to the question, but there are a few possible explanations for this phenomenon.

  • Reflexive response: Cats are predators by nature. Over time, they developed quick reflexives to be effective hunters. This speedy response time also helped them to steer clear of larger predators and hide. They also developed a strong startle reflex when something fearful or dangerous comes near them. In the cat cucumber videos, the cats are unaware of the cucumber until they turn and see it right next to them. Their response actually makes sense because suddenly turning around and seeing something strange right next to you that wasn't there before is scary.
  • Fear of predators: Another theory is that a cucumber looks like a snake and cats have an instinctive fear of them. A cucumber could be thought to resemble a snake since both are long and have a dark green color. A cat in the wild turning around and seeing a snake behind them would signal extreme danger and the need to get away immediately. This can include jumping up high as this makes it more difficult for a snake to bite or ensnare them.
  • Disturbing a safe space: Cats tend to have reactions to different areas of their environment and there are definitely spots in the home they prefer, particularly if they're up high such on a cat tree. Cats also consider the area where they eat a safe environment. When you feel secure in an area and are suddenly presented with something completely new and disturbing, this can cause anxiety, stress, and fear.

Effects of Cucumbers on Cats

While many people consider these videos amusing, behaviorists and veterinarians agree that, "If you cause stress to an animal that's probably not a good thing."

  • It can lead to behavior problems in the future, as cats are very sensitive to change and their surroundings and if they don't feel safe, they can exhibit more anxious and stressful behaviors.
  • Stress can lead to aggression towards you if they feel threatened and bite or scratch to protect themselves.
  • A cat can also injure himself if he races away or jumps too quickly and hits something in the home or pulls a muscle or breaks a bone.
  • Fear and anxiety coupled with the reflexive response can lead to inter-cat aggression, as the stressed cat can potentially redirect its stress on a nearby cat.
  • Fearful cats will also tend to hide more and be less social.

Skip Scaring Your Cat

While behaviorists and veterinarians aren't entirely sure about the exact reason about why cats hate cucumbers, there are several theories that all point to fear and anxiety in the end. Scaring cats may seem like fun to watch their exaggerated response, but it's not fun for the cat and can lead to some serious negative consequences.

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Why Do Cats Hate Cucumbers?