Videos of cats reacting to cucumbers have been cropping up around the internet, and even though initially their reaction to the sudden appearance of cucumbers may be funny, some experts suggest that the prank may be doing harm to the cats.
If you are not familiar with the videos mentioned above, here is an example of one such video.
As you can see the reaction of the cat to the unexpectedly placed cucumber is rather startling, and though it may get a giggle out of you, it is important to take note of what some experts are saying about this prank. But before we get to the potential harm this prank can do, let’s discuss why cats react in such a way to something as innocuous as a cucumber.
It is being hypothesized that the reaction shown by some cats (not all cats react in this manner) to the cucumber is a natural startle response which is triggered because they do not expect to see a cucumber on the floor in that manner. Some also suggest that the cat, at initial blush, may think that the cucumber is a snake, which it would instinctively try to get away from as quickly as possible since in the wild a snake would present mortal danger, triggering the startle response which gets the cat away from potential danger allowing it to reassess the situation from a safe distance. This is why you see the cats jumping at the sight of the unexpected cucumber.
It is worth keeping in mind that the cucumber itself is not the culprit, it just happens to be an unexpected item within the cat’s territory. It is perfectly plausible that cats would respond similarly to most unfamiliar items placed surreptitiously in their vicinity in order to catch them off guard.
How Is the Cucumber Prank Harmful to Cats?
As you may note (especially if you view other such videos) that the cat cucumber prank is usually played by placing the cucumber near a cat while he is eating. This is particularly jarring to the cat because normally they associate their feeding area as a safe zone and are less on guard. The combination of the cat being in a ‘safe zone’, and the sudden appearance of a potentially harmful (in the cat’s mind) presence makes for cruel joke at best, and a psychologically jarring experience at worst.
Friendly pranks can be fun an enjoyable among humans, but animals see and experience the world differently than we do, so it is important to try and see their point of view. A cat jumping at the sight of a cucumber may be funny to us, but it certainly isn’t a fun experience for the cat. And since we can’t explain the prank to our pets once things have calmed down, it can put the animal under a lot of stress, especially if the prank is repeated multiple times.