Sadistic Pet Owners Are Scaring Their Cats with Cucumbers

Tons of people are sharing videos of themselves scaring the bejeezus out of their unsuspecting pets with cucumbers, but why are the cats so terrified?

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Nov 19 2015, 7:00pm

Photo via Flickr user kpaulus

Cucumbers are the most innocuous of vegetables, aren't they? At 95 percent water, there are only 16 calories in a whole cup of them. Their taste? Pretty bland. They are mild and largely inoffensive—the milquetoast of the culinary world.

Unless you are a cat. Apparently, if you are a cat, there is nothing more terrifying than a cucumber.

And now everyone knows that, thanks to the Internet. People have been posting videos in which they scare the shit out of their cats merely by leaving a cucumber lying in the cat's general vicinity.

Is it instinct? A latent smell that only felines can detect? A visceral sense that cucumbers sort of, maybe look like snakes?

We don't know, but these are some of the theories that people have put forth. What we do know is that if you want to see a cat jump several feet in a northerly direction for basically no reason at all, introduce it to a cucumber.

People are posting videos of their cats freaking all over the Internet. In the typical video, a cat or two are innocently eating dinner, or lounging on a couch. Unbeknownst to the felines, their dastardly owner—the one with the sick sense of humor—has placed a cucumber out of the cat's sightline. When the cat suddenly catches a glimpse of the offending gourd, all hell breaks loose.

Frankly, it's pretty damn funny. But this being 2015, experts are appalled.

"If you cause stress to an animal, that's probably not a good thing," Jill Goldman, a certified animal behaviorist in southern California, told National Geographic. "If you do it for laughs, it makes me question your humanity."

Goldman explains that the unusual reaction that we find so hilarious is merely the cat's innate startle response. "With a startle response, a cat will often try to get out of there as quickly as possible and then reassess from a distance," says Goldman.

These experts are serious—they don't want you to scare your cats. With cucumbers.

John Bradshaw, a cat-behavior expert at the University of Bristol and the author of the book Cat Sense, calls the videos "despicable." Pam Johnson-Bennett, author of Think Like a Cat, calls them "a cruel thing to do."

OK, so maybe you shouldn't test the cat-cucumber combination out at home. But all this brouhaha might not stop us from watching the existing panoply of cat-and-cucumbers videos. After all, the cats in the videos have already been scared.

Think of it as a horror movie, starring someone else's cat and a watery green vegetable.