This is why cats are afraid of cucumbers

Videos starring cats afraid of cucumbers are popping up all over the Internet. In the videos, the felines face away and their owners secretly place a cucumber behind them. When the cats turn around, they are startled by the fruit that wasn’t there beforehand, often leaping back. Although both the videos and the cat reactions are shocking, the question remains as to why are cats afraid of cucumbers.

There are a few theories, but no definitive answer. Most experts agree that it isn’t necessarily the cucumber itself that scares cats. One of the most popular explanations is that cucumbers remind cats of snakes. “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, told ABC News. “Cucumbers look enough like a snake to have the cat’s instinctive fear of snakes kick in.”

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Another idea is that the sudden appearance of the cucumber is what scares the cat. This is similar to startling someone by sneaking up behind them, Mikel Delgado, a certified cat behavior consultant who studied animal behavior and human-pet relationships as a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley, told Mental Floss. Reports and videos of other fruits and vegetables scaring cats—including apples and bananas—reinforce the likelihood of this theory. Here are more things your cat would love to tell you.

Jill Goldman, a certified animal behaviorist in southern California, explains that the cucumbers are triggering the cats’ natural startle responses. “With a startle response, a cat will often try to get out of there as quickly as possible and then reassess from a distance,” she says.

Although the videos showing cats afraid of cucumbers and other fruits are entertaining, experts advise against trying any similar pranks at home with your pet; doing so isn’t good for their health. National Geographic reports trying to do so could cause cats to injure themselves, break something, or lead to prolonged stress.

But that’s not the only time you could unintentionally be harming your cat. Here are 12 more dangerous mistakes cat owners should never make.

RELATED: Presidents and their pets 

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History of presidential pets
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History of presidential pets

Theodore Roosevelt: Pony named "Algonquin" (12 horses)

(Photo: Library of Congress. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Theodore Roosevelt: Hyacinth macaw named "Eli Yale" (Owl, 6 dogs, 2 cats, snake, 2 kangaroos, one-legged rooster, rabbit, flying squirrel, 5 guinea pigs, 5 bears, pig, and a raccoon)

(Photo: Library of Congress. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

William Howard Taft: Cows named "Pauline Wayne" and "Mooly Wooly"

(Photo: Library of Congress. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Woodrow Wilson: Sheep used to graze on the White House lawn. Wilson also had a tobacco-chewing tam named "Old Ike," an airedale named "Davie," a greyhound named "Mountain Boy," bull terrier named "Bruce," songbirds, and a cat named "Puffins."

(Photo: Library of Congress. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Warren G. Harding: Airedale terrier named "Laddie Boy," English bulldog named "Old Boy" and a squirrel named "Pete"

(Photo: Library of Congress. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Calvin Coolidge: White collie named "Rob Roy" and chow named "Tiny Tim"

(Photo: National Archives. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Calvin Coolidge: Raccoon named "Rebecca." He also had another raccoon, 10 dogs, three canaries, mockingbird, goose, two cats, donkey, bobcat, two lion cubs, a wallaby, a pygmy hippo, and a black bear.

(Photo: National Archives. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Herbert Hoover: Belgian shepherd named "King Tut" and a pair of alligators that crawled around the White House grounds. 

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Scottish terrier named "Fala"

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Harry Truman: Cocker spaniel named "Feller" 

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)​

Harry Truman: Irish setter named "Mike" 

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)​

Dwight Eisenhower: Weimaraner named "Heidi," parakeet named "Gabby" (she was never photographed)

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)​

John F. Kennedy: Welsh terrier named "Charlie" (his favorite) and a mixed-breed named "Pushinka"

(Photo: John F. Kennedy Presidential library. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)​

John F. Kennedy: German shepherd named "Clipper," Welsh terrier named "Charlie" (with Caroline), mixed-breed named "Wolf" (reclining by Caroline), Irish cocker spaniel named "Shannon" (with John Jr.) and two of Pushinka's puppies (with First Lady Jackie Kennedy).

(Photo: John F. Kennedy Presidential library. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)​

John F. Kennedy: Pony named "Macaroni" (another pony named "Tex")

(Photo: John F. Kennedy Presidential library. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)​

Lyndon B. Johnson: Collie named "Blanco" 

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Lyndon B. Johnson: Beagles "Him" and "Her"

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Lyndon B. Johnson: Mixed-breed named "Yuki"

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Richard Nixon: Terrier named "Pasha," poodle named "Vicky," and Irish setter named "King Timahoe"

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Richard Nixon: Cocker spaniel named "Checkers"

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Gerald Ford: Golden retriever named "Liberty" and her litter of puppies born at the White House

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Gerald Ford: Siamese cat named "Shan"

(Photo: Gerald Ford Presidential library. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Ronald Reagan: Golden retriever named "Victory"

(Photo: Ronald Reagan Presidential library. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Ronald Reagan: King Charles spaniel named "Rex" 

(Photo: Wikipedia. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Ronald Reagan: Bouvier des Flandres herding dog named "Lucky"

(Photo: Ronald Reagan Presidential library. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

George H.W. Bush: Springer spaniel named "Millie" 

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

George H.W. Bush: Springer spaniel named "Ranger"

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Bill Clinton: Labrador retriever named "Buddy"

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Socks, the first cat of the Clinton family, August 24, 1994.

(Photo by Larry Downing/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

George W. Bush: Scottish terriers named "Barney" and "Miss Beazley"

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

George W. Bush: American shorthair cat named "India," "Willie," or sometimes called "Kitty"

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

George W. Bush: Springer spaniel named "Spot"

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

Barack Obama: Portuguese water dogs named "Bo" and "Sunny"

(Photo: White House. Source: Presidential Pet MuseumThe White House)

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