- People are freaking out their cats with cucumbers as part of a new craze
- Prank sees the cucumber placed behind the animals as they are eating
- Cats are then startled after turning around to find the object so close
- Experts say the prank ‘despicable’ and that it could cause the pets harm
First there were ‘cat circles’ – an online craze which saw felines seemingly refuse to move outside circles drawn on the floor.
Now, there is ‘cats vs cucumbers’, a series of videos that show cats freaking out after the salad item is placed behind them while they are eating.
But while the latest viral hit is causing hilarity online, experts are less than impressed, blasting the pet owners behind the pranks as ‘cruel’.
The latest internet craze, which even has pages dedicated to it, sees owners wait for their pet to tuck into their food before sneaking up behind them and placing a cucumber on the floor.
The cucumber is typically placed just behind the animal, and slightly to one side, ensuring they will see it as they turn around when they are done eating.
When the animals finally set eyes on the cucumber laying on the floor, they are instantly startled, jumping up into the air or fleeing in terror.
John Bradshaw, a cat-behavior expert at the University of Bristol, told National Geographic that the cucumber is eliciting the cat’s natural startle response.
Cats are largely solitary animals and creatures of habit, with well defined territories in which they like everything to be kept in place.
Changes to their environment, particularly having new objects introduced, can cause stress – as can seeing a familiar object in an unfamiliar location, Goldman explains.
Having that object effectively ‘sneak up’ on the animal will therefore induce an impulse reaction that likely has nothing to do with cucumbers themselves.
Goldman added: ‘With a startle response, a cat will often try to get out of there as quickly as possible and then reassess from a distance.’
The fact that the videos feature cats eating is no surprise, says to Pam Johnson-Bennett, author of Think Like A Cat, as they will usually associate this area with the greatest feeling of security – meaning they will be most startled when a mystery object shows up.
While cats are also typically hyper-aware of their surroundings, while eating they have their heads down and ears flattened, meaning it is easier to get an object close to them without them noticing.
Goldman said he finds the videos ‘despicable’, saying that startling cats could cause them to injure themselves, or create ‘prolonged stress’ by making them fear a previously safe space.
Bennett agreed, saying that it is ‘cruel’ to stress out an animal for a cheap laugh over the internet.
Click here for the video (and get ready to laugh)