Why Are Cats Scared of Cucumbers?

There's a reason why the green fruit frightens cats—and why you shouldn't try to surprise your pet with one.

Cats are mysterious creatures. If you have one, you’ve probably spent time questioning why cats purr, hate water, love boxes, and knead your lap. But the strangest cat behavior of all has pet parents wondering, Why are cats scared of cucumbers?

What sounds like a random query is a common question that arose from a social media trend. Pet owners filmed themselves secretly placing cucumbers behind their unsuspecting cats. When the cats turn around, they are startled by the fruit and often leap back in fright. Although both the videos and the cats’ reactions are shocking, the question remains: Exactly why cats are scared of cucumbers?

Why are cats scared of cucumbers?

Experts have a few theories as to why cucumbers give cats a fright, but so far there’s no definitive answer. Most agree that cats’ fear has less to do with cucumbers themselves than what the cucumbers represent or how they “magically” appear.

One of the most popular explanations is that cucumbers remind cats of snakes. “Some people believe that cucumbers look like a snake, which is a predator that has been known to attack and even eat cats,” explains Claudine Sievert, DVM, a Kansas-based veterinarian. “Cats see an elongated green object and think it’s a snake, so they run from it.”

Another idea is that the sudden appearance of the cucumber is what scares the cat. This is similar to startling someone by sneaking up behind them. “If they turn around and suddenly see a cucumber there, it causes them to jump and become frightened,” says Dr. Sievert. “If you’ve ever watched your cat, you’ll know that he’s aware of everything around him, and if something moves suddenly or unexpectedly, he will react to it. His eyes will widen, and his entire body goes on high alert.”

Keep educating yourself about cat behaviors and find out why cats meow.

Here’s why you shouldn’t try to scare cats with cucumbers

Although the videos showing cats afraid of cucumbers and other fruits are entertaining, experts advise against trying any similar pranks at home with your pet. Doing so isn’t good for their health.

“Regarding the ethical issue, the people who are setting these videos up are intentionally scaring an unsuspecting animal,” explains Gary Richter, DVM, a veterinary health expert with Rover. “Unlike a practical joke played on a person, where the ‘victim’ understands what has happened and hopefully can laugh about it afterward, the cat remains in the dark.  They have no idea what just happened and they stand to suffer very real levels of stress and potentially significant behavioral changes as a result. Veterinarians see plenty of animals every day that have behavioral problems stemming from traumatic events.”

Next, learn more about cat anxiety and what you should do about it.

Sources:

  • Claudine Sievert, DVM, Kansas-based veterinarian
  • Gary Richter, DVM, veterinarian with Rover

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an associate editor at The Healthy and a former assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her work has appeared online at the Food Network and Well + Good and in print at Westchester Magazine, and more. When she's not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.