Cats are deeply curious creatures. Recent evidence suggests that these tiny lions see us as inessential landlords, or rubbish, fur-lacking kittens. A new internet craze involving our feline companions has unveiled another piece of strange information: For some utterly bizarre reason, they appear to be terrified – utterly terrified – of cucumbers.
In the vast majority of the videos, cat owners are seen sneaking up behind their pets as they’re facing the other way – mostly eating – and placing the green, elongated vegetable behind them. As the cat turns around and spots the unexpected item, it loses its mind, leaps into the air, and gets away from it as fast as it can. In some videos, the cats then engage in a stare down with the cucumber, waiting in vain for it to make its first move.
But the question remains: Why on Earth are cats frightened by these innocuous vegetables?
To be fair, there aren’t any videos of cats seeing a cucumber from a distance and then walking up to interrogate it, so perhaps it’s the unexpected sight of a cucumber behind them that’s frightening, not the cucumber itself: An unexpected pineapple would likely be just as jarring. As it turns out, Dr. Roger Mugford, a specialist in animal behavior, told the Telegraph: “I think that the reaction is due to the novelty and unexpectedness of finding an unusual object secretly placed whilst their heads were down in the food bowl.”
Cats are shown to be suspicious of anything that moves rapidly, makes a lot of noise, or lights up erratically: essentially, anything that they don’t fully understand, which isn’t really that different from most animals, including humans. It’s also worth noting that cats are mostly solitary animals, and humans are as sociable as animals can be – so they’re baffled enough by us as it is. Freaking them out with unexpected cucumbers probably isn’t helping.
“Cats have to be suspicious of the unknown: It could represent the danger of a snake or another predator,” Mugford continued. “I suspect that there would be the same reaction to a model spider, a plastic fish or a human face mask.”
Well, there’s only one way to find out. This is, after all, for science. Get your model spiders at the ready.