Why Do Cats Hate Cucumbers? Explained By A Vet

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cat smelling cucumbers

Cats are full of adorable quirks so naturally, they often feature in memes and videos of cats end up all over the internet and social media. One trend that you might have come across is the cucumber prank that people play on their cats.

Key Takeaways

The cat versus cucumber viral video trend involves placing a cucumber behind a cat while they are distracted by something else and then seeing how they react.

Some argue that cats respond in an extreme manner due to a cucumber’s resemblance to a snake. Others argue that it is the sudden appearance of the cucumber that elicits the reaction.

Do not attempt to prank your cat with a surprise cucumber as it can cause unnecessary fear, stress, and injury.

If you have seen one of these viral videos and the extreme reaction that cats respond with, you have likely wondered: Why do cats hate cucumbers?

There are different theories that have been discussed. Some think it is because cucumbers look like snakes. Others argue that it is the surprise element itself that catches cats off guard. Read on as we explore the various reasons why cats might be so startled by the appearance of this harmless vegetable.

Also Read: Can Cats Eat Cucumbers?

What Is The Cat Cucumber Prank Trend?

For those who haven’t seen them, here’s an overview of what happens in the cat cucumber prank videos:

The cat owner sneakily places a cucumber behind their cat while their cat is busy doing something else, like eating or drinking. The unsuspecting cat then finishes what they are doing and catches sight of this long, green object that they hadn’t noticed before.

This results in the cat leaping back in shock and frantically scrabbling away to put as much distance between themselves and the cucumber. Much laughter ensues.

Also Read: Do Cats Get Annoyed? 10 Subtle Signs To Watch Out For

So Why Do Cats Hate Cucumbers?


Cucumber seem harmless, but some cats have extreme reactions to unexpectedly seeing cucumbers.

All of these videos show cats having an extreme startle response to the sight of a cucumber. What is it about this harmless vegetable that makes cats jump out of their skin? While there are no definitive answers as to why cats seem to be so scared of cucumbers, a few theories have been discussed. The popular theories are as follows:

1. Cucumbers Look Like Snakes

Many have speculated whether cats respond in such an alarmed way because cucumbers can resemble snakes. This might trigger their flight response as they are prey animals. In order to protect themselves, they will instinctually try to get themselves out of harm’s way as quickly as possible (much like we would if a deadly snake were approaching us!).

On the other hand, cats are also predators. Some cats will actually hunt and kill snakes; others might just be curious and bat them around. So, it can be argued that cats don’t have an innate fear of snakes.

Also, if you placed a cucumber in front of your cat or left one lying around in the kitchen, your cat would probably give it a curious sniff as opposed to recoiling from it with panic. When they aren’t surprised by a cucumber, cats know they are not harmless and do not respond to them with fear. If they really thought that cucumbers were snakes, then they would be afraid of them no matter what the situation.

2. Cats Are Responding to the Sudden Appearance of a Cucumber

Another theory that has been considered is that it is the surprise element that cats are responding to, instead of the cucumber itself. As prey animals, cats like to be aware of their surroundings and to know what is going on around them. In the wild, cats are more vulnerable when eating and drinking as they can’t be as attentive.

Though there are no dangers in a home environment, these feelings of vulnerability are still instinctively found in our domesticated cats. In the prank videos, cucumbers are usually placed outside the cat’s line of sight while they are at their food or water bowls. They are completely unaware as they are focused on something else.

It makes sense that turning around and seeing a strange, unexpected object will catch them off guard and frighten them. Think about the physical response you might have if someone or something creeps up on you without warning!

The theory that holds the most weight for why cats freak out in these cucumber prank videos is that they are taken aback by the sudden appearance of something that wasn’t there before. It’s difficult to argue that it is specifically the cucumber that cats hate or are scared of, as we wouldn’t expect much of a reaction beyond a curious sniff if they were openly offered one.

Also Read: The 10 Things That Cats Hate Most

Should You Prank Your Cat With Cucumbers?

cat plays with cucumber

Some people think it’s funny, but the cats in these viral cucumber videos are clearly stressed by being pranked in this way.

You definitely should not prank your cat with a surprise cucumber. While pranking your cat in this way might be funny and amusing for you, it will cause your cat unnecessary fear and distress. If you prank a friend, you might be able to laugh about it together afterward. But when pet parents scare cats, there is no way of explaining it to them.

You want your cat to be able to feel safe and secure in your home. Intentionally scaring them can damage the relationship you have with them. If the pranking is repeated, it could cause chronic stress and increase a cat’s anxiety, leading to behavioral problems, such as inappropriate toileting, over-grooming, and aggression.

Also Read: 8 Ways To Help a Scared and Fearful Cat Be Confident

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cats really scared of cucumbers?

The way cats respond to cucumbers in the prank videos can easily make you think that they find these green vegetables terrifying. However, it is much more likely that they are surprised and afraid by the sudden appearance of something unexpected. If you were to present your cat with a cucumber, they are unlikely to react.

Are cucumbers toxic to cats?

The good news is that cucumbers aren’t toxic to cats. Because cats are carnivores, they are attracted to meat and meaty-flavored foods. Fruit and vegetables aren’t something they commonly choose to eat. Some cats might enjoy eating cucumber and this can be offered in small amounts. Due to their high water content, there is a risk of causing diarrhea if given in larger quantities.

Why do cats hate bananas?

As well as cucumber videos, there are also videos out there that show cats running away from or swatting at bananas when presented with them. They likely react in this way because they hate the smell of them. As bananas ripen, they release ethyl acetate which cats hate. Banana is often recommended as a cat deterrent.

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About Dr. Beverley Ho BSc(VetSci)(Hons) BVM&S MRCVS

Beverley graduated from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh in 2020. She also has an intercalated honours degree in Literature and Medicine; she achieved this in 2018 and was the first veterinary student to do so. An expert in behavior and nutrition, Beverley currently works as a small animal vet.

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  1. Max

    Do some more research other than freaking youtube videos… it’s the SMELL…. cut one so it doesn’t look like a snake, ask a cat if it would like a sniff… and watch it become freaked out. I can’t eat a slice of one without my cat acting like I have something horrifying in my hand, and I NEVER “pranked” him with them.