Have you seen the volume of viral YouTube videos showing cats that panic when they turn around and see a cucumber? If so, you’re probably wondering, Why are cats afraid of cucumbers?
As strange as it may seem, cats have an instinctive fear of cucumbers that causes them to panic at the sight of one. While you might find this reaction humorous, to your cat it is anything but funny.
We’ll break down the various reasons why cats are afraid of cucumbers and tell you how you can calm down a scared cat.
Is it normal for my cat to jump when startled?
Jumping when startled is a normal response for cats. The reason that cats are jumping in these viral videos is that they perceive cucumbers to be a threat in some way.
Your cat is a predator, meaning cats are highly sensitive to the world around them. When objects like cucumbers suddenly appear in their line of vision, your cat is caught off guard and instinctively jumps in response to the object.
While you might not have an anxious cat on your hands, if your cat continues to see objects that elicit their fear response, you will notice your cat becoming anxious and stressed on a daily basis. That’s why it’s important to protect your cat from their fears, cucumbers included.
Top reasons why cats are afraid of cucumbers
These viral videos of cats seemingly overreacting to cucumbers might seem funny at face value, but it’s important to be sympathetic of the fact that the cat is likely afraid or startled by the cucumber—in other words, not having a good time. But why are cats afraid of cucumbers? The reason for each cat’s reaction to a seemingly simple salad ingredient could be any of the following possibilities!
Cucumbers remind cats of snakes
Cats don’t like snakes. And who can blame them? In fact, cats hiss to imitate snakes, which are seen as some of the most fearsome creatures in the animal kingdom.
The theory that cucumbers remind cats of snakes is a solid one. Imagine if you turned around and saw a snakelike object at your feet. You would likely have the same reaction!
Even the most domesticated of cats are predators. They may hunt small snakes when they are outside in the world, and the slithering motion of snakes causes cats to pounce. But when cats are not in the mindset of attacking prey, seeing a potential threat will cause them to react by jumping or running away.
Cucumber startled the cat
Anything that sneaks up on an animal has the potential to startle it. Even though cats are very alert by nature and have great social awareness, when they are in their home, they expect to feel safe and secure. If an object in the household startles them, they’ll jump in response.
Cucumber appears when cat is eating
If you’ve seen the videos online, you’ve likely noticed that the majority of the time, the prank is pulled on the cat while they are eating. The cat turns around and suddenly sees an intruder entering their space while they’re eating. Cats are generally territorial of their food, so cats will regard the cucumber as a threat to their meal.
Cats are solitary creatures
Unlike humans and dogs, cats are typically solitary creatures. They like to be alone and hunt alone, which generally means that they don’t have the best social skills. The comfort that your cat finds in solitude is obstructed when a new object is introduced into their environment. This could cause tension and discomfort.
Cat is stressed
If you have an anxious cat, there’s a high likelihood that they will have a fearful response to any sudden motion or object, including a cucumber. A stressed cat will have triggers in nearly every situation. They will be easily startled by nearly any item that moves quickly near them.
What to do when your cat is afraid
What are cats afraid of? We know that cats can be afraid of cucumbers, but there are many other objects that can cause your cat to have a fear response. If you notice your cat is increasingly nervous or afraid and you’re intentionally startling your cat, it is time to stop with the pranks.
While it might seem funny to watch your cat's antics when they are startled by a cucumber, it isn’t fun for them. It causes unnecessary stress and anxiety, which can lead to hair loss, vomiting, and diarrhea, among many other adverse reactions.
They can even be physically harmed as they scurry and quickly try to find an escape route. So, how do you calm a scared cat? Here are a few tricks you should consider:
- Reduce exposure to triggers
- Avoid things that could scare them
- Introduce new things slowly
- Move slowly around your cat
- Provide your cat with a private space like a cat orb
- Give them somewhere to feel safe like the fancy cat sac
- Provide scratching posts like the cat silo
- Be calm so that your stress doesn’t exacerbate your cat’s stress
Let your cat guide you when it comes to finding the best way to control their stress. If they are giving you indications that they are stressed, anxious, or uncomfortable, allow them some space and work with them in order to help them relax.
4 other things that scare cats
We know that cucumbers can startle cats, but there are other things that can frighten felines, too. If your cat is scared, it could be the result of any of these factors:
- Loud Noises: These can include anything from firecrackers and thunderstorms to blenders or a door slamming—and everything in between.
- Strong Smells: Your cat has a sense of smell that is many times greater than humans’ sense (even greater than some dog breeds’ sense!), so strong scents can upset them.
- Other Animals: Dogs and other cats can give your feline a fright when they enter into your cat’s space.
- New People: Cats can be anxious around visitors, especially people that they do not know.
When you make changes to your cat’s day-to-day life, it can cause a heightened fear response because cats don’t love change. Be sure to pay attention to changes that might make your cat scared and provide them with the space they need to destress if they do get frightened by events.
Cucumbers: a startling surprise for felines
Why are cats afraid of cucumbers? Maybe we should ask why anyone would feel the need to scare their cat just for a laugh! Be careful about surprising your cat with objects like cucumbers just to see if they will cause your cat to jump. Seeing a cat jump at the sight of a simple fruit might give you a chuckle, but to your cat it is no laughing matter.
Cats get scared by invaders and will try to get away at any cost. Prioritizing their safety is their top instinct, but in the process of running away from the startling object, they can end up hurting themselves.
Instead of letting your cat work through their stress all on their own, you can find ways to help calm your cat after they experience a startling surprise. Bottom line, you should make it a point to avoid startling surprises altogether. Help reduce your cat’s anxiety and stress levels by providing a calm atmosphere with safe places to decompress.
Cats can eat cucumbers. In fact, they are a great source of water, vitamins, and nutrients. However, cucumbers are bad for cats if they are used as a tool to startle them; this can lead to unnecessary stress and an increased level of anxiety in cats.
Cover photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash