Friday 9 July 2021

Why are cats scared of cucumbers?

This question has been answered a million times so no one is going to read this but I'll try and answer it differently. I think it is obvious why domestic cats are scared of cucumbers. It is not that they are scared of cucumbers per se. Is because they are suddenly confronted with something that they do not understand and have not seen before. This causes an immediate surge of anxiety and defensive action so they jump up into the air and run off.

Cat and cucumber. Screenshot from one of those not so funny cat videos.

Think of the human analogy. You are intensely doing something and somebody creeps up behind you and makes a loud noise. Something suddenly has happened which you don't understand and which came out of the blue. That is very similar to what happens when you put a cucumber behind a cat and the cat turns around and sees it.

If you understand the reasoning as to why people are frightened under those circumstances you will understand the reason why cats are too.

It's just something uncertain which is suddenly sprung upon them. Any animal would respond with anxiety under those circumstances. The cat's reaction looks extreme because they are fantastic jumpers. They have fast-twitch muscles and great levers in their legs so if they jump backwards and upwards, they jump a long way. This gives the impression that they are terrified but perhaps the better description is that they are immediately anxious.

They probably come back to the object later and sniff it to understand that it is not hostile. There is the added effect that the cucumber could be a strange, hostile creature such as a snake. Cats understand that snakes are dangerous which is why they adopted the hiss. They copied it over eons to try and frighten away predators.

Questionable morality of these videos

The unfortunate aspect of these many videos of cats being scared by cucumbers is that the people making them are scaring their cat deliberately to get some hits on YouTube. They are doing it for advertising money. So, they are scaring their cat to make money. You've got to ask yourself whether that is morally acceptable behaviour.

A study found that a good 30% or more of cats in funny cat videos are anxious. That is the price of making a funny cat video. It relies on the cat being anxious. I would doubt that anybody thinks about this because they are too absorbed with the funny aspect of the video. I think, though, that we need to ask questions.

Perhaps YouTube should start asking questions of themselves and as to whether allowing them is acceptable. But I'm asking the impossible because the YouTube guys just don't see it like that. For donkeys years they have accepted unacceptable videos and only recently have they become more aware of the need to satisfy their advertisers after pressure. They hate censorship of any kind as do Google and Facebook as it damages business.

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