Why These Scaredy Cats Are Absolutely Terrified of Cucumbers

Viral videos show cats scared out of their wits at the sight of cucumbers.

ByABC News
December 25, 2015, 1:55 PM

— -- These scaredy cats are not so cool ... when they see cucumbers.

Viral videos have shown cats fleeing in fear or bouncing into the air at the sight of a cucumber.

Why cucumbers might frighten some cats is a hair-raising question, but it's no mystery for one expert.

"Cats are genetically hard-wired through instinct to avoid snakes," Con Slobodchikoff, animal behaviorist and author of "Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals," said. "Cucumbers look enough like a snake to have the cat's instinctive fear of snakes kick in."

This instinctive fear of snakes can cause cats to panic, he added.

"If a cat sees something slithering over the ground, the cat often will jump a couple of feet up in the air, a behavior that prevents getting bitten by a snake," Slobodchikoff said.

And it's not just cucumbers that can cause this sort of hysteria in cats.

"Anything that looks like a snake should produce the instinctive fear response," Slobodchikoff said. “Cucumbers are shaped more like snakes, with their curving sides, than ears of corn or eggplants, so they produce a greater response."

But don't go trying to prank your cat with cucumber-shaped objects just yet. Scaring cats can have long-term effects on their mental health.

"Anytime you scare an animal, you risk inflicting psychological damage, so that the animal will be afraid not only of cucumbers,” Slobchikoff said, “but also the surroundings in which the cucumber was presented to the animal.”