Why are cats afraid of cucumbers and bananas?

We all remember those viral videos from a few years ago about cats being spooked by cucumbers and bananas.  If you haven’t seen those videos in a while, as a refresher, these were the videos where the cats were preoccupied, and then someone sneakily puts cucumber behind them.  When the cats notice, they shoot up the air in fear.  Why in the world do cats have such a huge reaction over cucumbers and bananas?  That’s because cats are afraid of thing sneaking up on them.

Cats are terrified about anything that sneaks up on them.  Cats are known for being super sharp and alert – they are predators in the wild, after all.  Naturally, they have very good situational awareness.  They’re very sensitive to movements and changes in their environment.  In other words, they’re used to being the sneaks, but they’re not used to other animals, or in this case things to sneak up on them.

When they finally realize that there was a sneaky cucumber waiting for them without them hearing it approach, as with anyone or any animal, your cat will be surprised – and not in the best way.

As you may have noticed from the videos, cats were busy, digging their heads down their food bowls when someone places the cucumbers or bananas behind them.   You may not know this, but cats only eat when they are absolutely sure that they are safe.  They associate eating with security.  In the wild, cats are most vulnerable when they are eating or defecating (hence why they like it when you’re around when they poop, and they’re around while you’re in the toilet).  This is why when they see an unexpected vegetable behind them as they turn around spooks them so much.

Is the cucumber a snake?

Another reason suggested as to why cats are skittish over cucumbers is that they may associate it to snakes.  In the wild, aka outside your lovely home, snakes are deadly predators to cats.  Cats have the innate fear of snakes sneaking up on them as a result.  Evolutionarily, they are hard-wired to avoid snakes.  Anything that looks like a snake – from eggplants to ears of corn may elicit this reaction from them.  Their first reaction might be to assume that this green thing is a snake who is about to attack them.  They might be so scared that they’d want to get away from the perceived danger so much that they leap into the air as an automatic defensive response.

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Triggering this natural startle response on your cat may cause it to injure itself accidentally.  They might break something, hurt someone, or hurt their heads in their desperate move to get away from the cucumber.  Other than that, scaring your cat this way may give it prolonged stress.  Frightening your cat unnecessarily may instigate mental health problems for them.  Every time you do it, you risk inflicting psychological damage to your pet cat.  Please don’t do it.

It is highly recommended that you don’t pull the cucumber prank, or any other joke that could result into your cat being surprised.

If you are just looking to introduce this green vegetable or yellow fruit to your furry friend, the best way to do it is gradually and from a safe distance.  You’ll find that cats aren’t actually afraid of cucumbers when properly introduced to it.

Is it a good idea to scare my cat for entertainment?

No.  It is not very nice of you to scare your cat with this prank or any other prank for that matter.  The reason is they may do something erratic at the moment and injure themselves.  It could hit something as it was jumping up in fear, causing that thing to break, hurt themselves, or the very worst, cause long term mental health problems.

How to calm a scared cat?

If your cat is scared, stressed or upset for any reason including cucumber related reasons, here’s how you can help it:  respect your cat’s space.  No matter how much you want to comfort your cat with a cuddle, don’t do it.  By nature, cats are territorial and they won’t appreciate you being clingy and intruding their space at a stressful time.  Secondly, be patient.  Your cat may take a while, to readjust especially if they’re a bit of a scaredy-cat to begin with.

What are other things my cat may be afraid of?

Different cats have different sensitivities when it comes to different things.  Aside from some sneaky cucumbers and bananas, here are some other things your cats may be spooked by: loud sudden noises like popping balloons, vacuum cleaners and fireworks, water because their fur isn’t really meant to be wet, strong odors like citrus fruits, onions and vinegar due to their highly sensitive sense of smell, feeling restrained, and change – may it be different people or different environments.  As much as possible, try to keep your kitties feeling safe. While it may be funny to get a weird reaction from your cat when they’re scared, putting your cat through this ordeal is not the greatest for their health both physically and mentally.  It is advised that you keep your home a safe haven for yourself and for your furry roommate for both of your sakes.

Why are cats afraid of cucumbers and bananas?