Cats have a lot of strange behaviors that their owners struggle to understand. One of them is being afraid of cucumbers. Videos have made the rounds of cat owners secretly placing a cucumber behind their unsuspecting cat in order to see the cat’s reaction once it notices it. Usually, the cat leaps in terror at the sight of the cucumber. But why does this happen? Read on to learn more about what makes cats afraid of cucumbers.
Cucumbers Resemble Snakes
One of the simplest explanations as to why cats are afraid of cucumbers is that it’s not the cucumber itself that cats are afraid of, but the fact that at first glance it looks like a snake to them—which is a lot more dangerous than a cucumber. The cat leaps away from the cucumber out of fear that it’s a snake in order to protect itself from getting bitten or attacked.
Do Snakes Really Attack Cats?
Yes, snakes sometimes attack cats. It depends on the location but cats can sometimes come in contact with snakes and run the risk of being attacked. It also depends on the size of the snake as well, as a larger snake, like a python, is more likely to attack a cat than a smaller one. Although cats are not the normal prey for a snake, snakes are known to be opportunistic eaters and will attempt to eat a small cat if it is larger than it.
Even smaller snakes can bite your cat and in some cases, if the snake is venomous, this could do a lot of harm to a cat, or even kill it. Cats have a natural instance to jump away from immediate danger, just like we do when we spot something unexpected. It is an automatic response that helps keep the cat safe if it were in fact sitting right next to a dangerous snake.
The Random Appearance of an Object
As many people know, cats are very observant creatures. They tend to watch and make note of everything in their surroundings, so when something pops up by surprise that wasn’t there just a moment ago, it can give a cat quite the fright. This could be another one of the reasons why cats are so terrified when they turn around to find a cucumber laying next to them.
Why You Shouldn’t Try to Scare Your Cat With a Cucumber
Aside from simply being mean, there are other reasons why you shouldn’t attempt to scare your cat with a cucumber. One of the main reasons why you shouldn’t is because it’s actually bad for their health (the fright, not the cucumber). Unlike when people play pranks on one another, in which the person that was pranked realizes it was all a joke and understands what happened, cats don’t come to the same realization.
When an owner pranks a cat with a cucumber, the cat may never fully understand what or why that happened. It may see that it isn’t in any danger as it thought, but that doesn’t mean that it understands what actually happened. This highly stressful event, combined with the confusion afterward, can lead a cat to develop anxiety and fear, which it might not have had an issue with before. Or it could worsen anxiety and fear that it was already struggling with.
Dealing With Anxiety in Cats
Cats can struggle with anxiety just like people can. But the problem is that they aren’t able to go seek out help on their own. This is where its important for a pet owner to be able to recognize the signs of fear and anxiety in cats so that we can get them the help that they need.
If you feel like your cat has anxiety, the first thing you should do is get your cat to the vet so that it can be checked for any underlying health issues. Sometimes people don’t realize that having an undiagnosed health issue can be a source of anxiety and stress. If your cat shows signs that it is experiencing these things, a trip to the vet should be in order.
Your vet will be able to let you know if your cat is suffering from any health-related issues, and if so, get your cat on the medication or treatment that it needs to overcome or manage it. Sometimes once the health issue is addressed, a cat’s anxiety is automatically reduced, since it’s no longer dealing with the debilitating or uncomfortable issues it was before that caused the anxiety in the first place.
If after a vet visit, your veterinarian confirms that your cat is healthy and not suffering from any health issues, you may want to look at other things that could be the source of your cat’s anxiety. This could be a wide range of things, from feeling unsafe in its environment, feeling lonely, or even feeling overwhelmed by other household pets. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms you should be on the lookout for in order to know if your cat is dealing with anxiety.
- Tail lowered close to its body
- Tail flicking back and forth
- Avoiding eye contact
- Shifting or moving head or body away
- Pupils that are partially dilated
- Rechargeable -- no need to replace batteries
- Simply press the button and the toy will rotate and produce a red light to engage your cat's hunting instinct
- Will change direction on its own when it hits an object like a wall or piece of furniture
- Works best on hard floors, not thick carpets
- Turns off automatically after 40 minutes
The above symptoms are all mild signs of anxiety. If you notice that your cat is showing these symptoms, you should first have it seen by a vet as we mentioned. The vet may recommend mild treatment options.
- Tail is tucked very closely to the body
- Cat is crouched low to the ground while walking
- Ears are positioned to the side
- Increased breathing rate
- Increased pupil dilation
The symptoms above are signs of moderate anxiety in cats. If you notice that your cat is showing these symptoms, you should first have it seen by a vet as we mentioned. The vet may recommend treatment options.
- Ears are pointed backward
- Pupils are fully dilated
- Your cat’s fur is standing on end
- Aggressive behavior
- Your cat tries to run away or escape
The above symptoms are signs of more severe anxiety in cats. If you notice that your cat is displaying these behaviors you can try comforting it to reassure it that there is no danger to be afraid of. Sometimes a cat just needs reassurance that it is safe and has nothing to fear. Also, be sure that you do not punish your cat if you see this behavior. The cat isn’t behaving badly, it is reacting to the fear and anxiety it feels.
Punishing your cat for this type of behavior will not correct it, but have the opposite effect and increase the amount of fear they feel. It can also lead to your cat directing its aggressive behavior toward you instead. Therefore, you should avoid yelling or spraying your cat with water, for example, if you see that it is behaving in this manner. Instead, try your best to comfort it and show it that there is nothing to fear.
As much as we would love for our comforting words to be enough to heal our cats’ anxiety alone, there is usually more work required—especially in the cases of moderate or severe anxiety. As we’ve mentioned, if you are unsure what has caused your cat’s anxiety you should have it checked out at the vet to rule out any health issues. Your vet can also get your cat on an appropriate anxiety medication if needed. Once you’ve done that there are a few things you can try to further reduce your cat’s anxiety.
Make Sure They Feel Safe in Their Environment
Cats, like most other beings, need to be able to feel safe in their environment. If your cat doesn’t have a safe, quiet space to go, it can feel very overwhelmed which can lead to anxiety over time. You can try to create a space that is comfortable away from noises and other pets where your cat can go and have a moment to relax. This can be a natural way to help reduce your cat’s anxiety, which will improve its overall health and happiness.
Have Plenty of Fun Toys to Keep Them Occupied
Cats love to play and explore and if there is not much for your indoor cat to explore, it can become bored and anxious. Having enough interactive toys to play with can help keep your cat occupied and stimulated—especially if you tend to be away from home and your cat spends any significant amount of time alone. If that is the case, it is very important to be sure that your cat is getting all of the mental stimulation and excitement that it needs in order to stay happy.
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- Reader's Digest, Available here: https://www.rd.com/article/why-cats-afraid-of-cucumbers/
- Pet MD, Available here: https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/behavioral/c_ct_fear_phobia_anxiety