Why are cats startled by cucumbers?

Several people have called this video to my attention, and although I don’t approve of startling cats, especially by sneaking up behind them and depositing cucumbers, there may be a biological lesson in the video. Here’s my hypothesis, which is mine: the cats have genetic predisposition to be scared of snakes—a disposition instilled in their distant ancestors by natural selection. Clearly, those wild cats lacking a tendency to avoid long, thin, and unrecognized objects wouldn’t leave as many genes behind as cats having genes for a startle reflex.

So I think these cats are startled because, to them, cucumbers activate a long dormant snake-avoidance reflex. This can be tested, of course, at least in part. I would urge readers to sneak up behind their cats and deposit a variety of fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, apples, bananas, avocados, broccoli, and so on. If you’re brave and heartless enough, you can even use a rubber snake. My prediction is that the more snakelike an object is, the more it will startle a cat. It has not escaped my notice that cucumbers, like some snakes, are green.

I don’t want to give cats heart attacks, but this is an issue in which we can all do Citizen Science. Report your results below.



  1. David
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how many videos were shot where the cats did not react at all. There might be a huge sample bias here.

    It is very interesting however that in the video with multiple vegetables, the cat does seem to only care about the cucumber.

  2. rickflick
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    This is a demonstration of the cat’s acute observation and evolutionarily fine tuned reflexes, and grace.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      And cutie-pie-ness. 🙂

  3. Wildhog
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I watched the video before reading your blog – er, I mean column – and had the same hypothesis.

  4. Pauline
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    You’re taking the mickey. 🙂

    Read up on cats’ eyesight, particularly at close range.

  5. Posted November 15, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    My cat’s favorite toy is a long wiggly toy snake.

  6. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    What a snakey thing to do to your cat!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Yessssss dessssssspicable!

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted November 15, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        Great. Now I have to clean the INSIDE of my monitor. G-:;=
        I am sure the ASCII art archives have a droplet-laden raspberry somewhere.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted November 15, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          Maybe “G D-=:;” would work better?

  7. Randy Schenck
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Without trying it, my best guess is that this does not happen to all cats. Even in the video some do not seem so disturbed. It does not take much to startle some cats. My semi-outdoor cat is deathly afraid of all people except the two of us. If he sees me and does not at first recognize me, he takes off. Why is the cat so afraid of all strangers – I do not know. I’ve seen some cats that will immediately take off if you turn on a vacuum. Others could care less.

  8. Posted November 15, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Actually, if I saw one of those on my living room carpet and had no idea why it was there, I’d be scared too, and my first reaction would be to probe it to see if it was alive.

  9. gluonspring
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I conducted the following experiment (purely for science, of course):

    Subject: 2 year old female tabby.
    Prop: Realistic rubber cobra, approx 8 inches long.
    Setup: Feed cat, silently place cobra behind her. Wait.
    Result: Cat turns, sees snake, sniffs at it for approx 1 second in a very bored manner, then sits down next to it and looks up at me in hope of more food.

    Some possible variables: The rubber snake was in the house before the cat. Perhaps she already is familiar with it from past exposures. She watched me rooting around in daughters room looking for it, perhaps that primed her somehow. Perhaps plastic, unlike cucumbers, give off odors that alert her before she sees it? Maybe my cat hates science.

    • gluonspring
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Will follow up with cucumber after grocery run.

    • gluonspring
      Posted December 6, 2015 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Subject: 2 year old female tabby
      Prop: cucumber
      Result: Cat scared out of her wits.

      OK, this is an old thread, but I HAVE to follow up because the results are amazing. I got a cucumber and once again put it behind our cat. This time, the moment she set eyes on the cucumber she leapt away as if electrocuted and skittered across our hardwood floor. She came back warily and investigated it with cautious sniffs and wary paw pats, then stayed out of the kitchen with it’s half eaten bowl of food for a couple of minutes.

      I find this really amazing. The realistic snake toy had no effect at all, but the cucumber elicited a very dramatic reaction.

      I wonder what the parameters are?

      • Posted December 7, 2015 at 6:31 am | Permalink

        8 inches long isn’t exactly realistic for a cobra, even when it has just hatched and come out of its egg (and it is 50 centimeters long when it hatches). King Cobras are the longest venomous snake in the world! The average male grows 18 feet long, and some have been known to grow more than 20 feet long.

        • gluonspring
          Posted December 7, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

          Wow. OK, it’s not a realistic looking cobra, but it does look like a real snake. It looks a lot more snake like than the five inch cucumber that scared the pee out of my cat.

          My curiosity is really engaged on this, though. I doubt I can (or would want to) scare my same cat over and over (though that is another question, if I do it again will she jump again, or will she go… Oh, that thing…) so I don’t see any easy way to do the experiments, but I sure am curious.

  10. Q-Tim
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly, my cat, when he was young, liked to play with a quite realistically-looking rubber snake, methodically chewing off its head right at the nape, until the head was completely separated. I can’t recall if he was startled when he first saw the snake though…

  11. yvonne
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I am not sure your theory holds up. I had a black&white Domestic long hair. She looked just like the picture of the Norwegian Forrest Cat. I can’t tell you how many snakes she carted in during her long life. I inherited her because my son and his family got her as a kitten and she ran away but as soon as they moved on she came back. Her name was Penny, she kept showing up and finally stayed many years.

    • Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      But did the cat react differently to cucumbers?

  12. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I have the same aversion to anything black and about the size of a quarter or smaller. My brain says “spider!” and sends the flee response to my legs before anything gets past the amygdala.

    • Lori
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Oh me too!!

      • rickflick
        Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        I can see it: the two of you ending up standing on the same chair in a desperate clinch.

    • Ralph
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      So it sounds like you’re ok with spiders that are much, much larger than a quarter?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        I’m not, but I don’t expect to see them and my brain would think that it was something else.

        • rickflick
          Posted November 15, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

          You mean something like a mouse? What would a mouse be doing with 4 extra legs?

          • Trish Huesken
            Posted November 15, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            You should live in British Columbia. We have spiders with 3 centimeter leg spans – I love ’em – they keep my house insect-free.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted November 16, 2015 at 3:28 am | Permalink

              I like spiders, the bigger the better. We used to have big ‘Avondale spiders’ in our garden but I haven’t seen any for years. It seems they were an invader from Australia in 1924, before the current xenophobic paranoia about imported beasties, but now they’re endangered because the scruffy empty sections and old timber they liked is being tidied up and built on. Bloody tidy Kiwis.


          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted November 15, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            Mouse, sock, mitten, dog toy, rock, other mammal.

            • Lori
              Posted November 15, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

              Right, unless it’s on the WALL, then I’m going to a hotel….

              • Merilee
                Posted November 16, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

                Yeah, on the wall, especially near my bed, is the deal-breaker.

              • Posted November 17, 2015 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

                Been there, seen that, Called for little brother and a shoe, as I cried about how freaking big it was and how too afraid I was to move.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted November 15, 2015 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        [Perks up]
        Did somebody say large spider???

    • Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Mine’s only with fast insects, such as centipedes and silverfish.

    • Adam M.
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Me too. There are a couple smudges on the walls and balcony floor that grab my attention every time I see them. 🙂

    • Pali
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

      Bees are mine. Any flying insect near me bigger than a fruit fly gives me an instant “gahhhhhh get it AWAY!” response. I’m not allergic or anything, I’ve been stung before and barely noticed, so the only thing I can attribute it to was a time as a kid where I woke up to my bedroom being full of hornets (about two dozen or so of them, including one on the pillow about two inches from my face).

  13. Lori
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I have no intention of scaring my cats on purpose, even for science. However, I will say that my cats seem to be attracted to snakes outside and even like to catch them when they can. So far this has only happened with garter snakes and has been harmless. I should also note this only happens in our backyard with our supervision.

  14. tony in san diego
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I have the same reaction to cucumbers! Keep them out of my salad!

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Same here!

      • noncarborundum
        Posted November 16, 2015 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        When we get salads at a restaurant, my wife eats all my cucumber slices and I eat her onion and radish slices. Peace & contentment reign.

        • Diane G.
          Posted November 16, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

          If I ever need to post a web profile, “must like cucumbers” will be on my list, then.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted November 16, 2015 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

            Sounds like the name of a dodgy romantic comedy.

            • Diane G.
              Posted November 16, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink


        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted November 16, 2015 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

          You’re the vegetarian Jack Sprat!

    • Pali
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 9:01 pm | Permalink


  15. Jeff Ryan
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    When I was a kid, my neighbors had a cat. They also had a small cutting board with a handle that vaguely resembled the outline of a snake’s head. Actually, it was a very conventional handle shape. Anyway, if you put it on the floor and the cat saw it, she freaked out, hunched down, and stared at it, waiting for it to strike.

  16. Billy Bl
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Maybe someone can help me out. I first read of this kind of response decades ago in what I thought (and have thought for decades) was Sagan’s “Broca’s Brain”. I’ve just looked through the index and can find nothing about snakes or fear or instinct that may support my memory. I’m almost sure it was from a Sagan book because I have an associated memory of being surprised that Sagan would write about something so biological. Does anyone know what I’m talking about?

    • Billy Bl
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      I couldn’t let this go. Went back to the bookshelves and found “The Dragons of Eden” about the evolution of human intelligence. Lots of stuff about the brain. The index again had no entries for snakes or fear or instinct, but I’m convinced that at least half of my memories aren’t manufactured.

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 15, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        Well, I did find this at the Wikipedia page on The Dragons of Eden:

        The title “The Dragons of Eden” is borrowed from the notion that man’s early struggle for survival in the face of predators, and in particular a fear of reptiles, may have led to cultural beliefs and myths about dragons and snakes.

        So it seems you are right. Possibly the book just has a lousy index, like so many do.

        • Billy Bl
          Posted November 15, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

          Thanks Diane. My notes inside the cover indicate that I read it in 1977 (and it cost $7.95 – hardcover), so I’m not surprised my memories weren’t perfect.

          • Diane G.
            Posted November 15, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

            You remember more than I do, I hate to admit. I’ve read all his books but, like you, it was back in the day. How am I supposed to read all the modern books and still have time to re-read old treasures?!

            • Diane G.
              Posted November 15, 2015 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

              Guess I could start by spending less time on WEIT… 🙄

  17. Ralph
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Some of these comments remind me of the SMBC Turing test.


    You all passed, except Dr. I. Needtob Athe, who was inconclusive, and may be a cat.

    • D Wynder
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree! Ghezzzz!

  18. Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    The answer is of course very simple: cats are carnivore animals and they get spooked by anything vegetarian. 🙂 🙂

    • Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      I have the same reaction to kale.

      • Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        In Holland we eat kale mixed with mashed patotoes and a fine smoked sausage! (Rookworst) Try it! It’s great!:-)

  19. Glenda from Kelowna
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    When my cat Kofi (aka Badass) was young she discovered asparagus floating/bobbing in the kitchen sink. What a performance of moving up, jumping back, run a circle, move in, jump back and finally bend over to touch and run around. It lasted for about five minutes. I have one photo of it. Am convinced she was responding to the ‘snake fear’ some cats have. A while later she sold a cooked full length pice of asparagus from a plate and took it back to her placemat on floor and ate it all.

    I’ll try this to see if photo comes up.

    Devon Rex Catoons


    • Diane G.
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha! That’s priceless!

  20. Marion
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had cats all my life but have never known one to be afraid of snakes. Some of our cats, in fact, hunted snakes. For example, Andy, who was skitterish about everything else, routinely deposited half-dead garter snakes under the dining room table. This scared the bejesus out of my sister and me, as we are both terrified of snakes.

    • Scott Draper
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Humans hunt bears, but if you turned around and found one right next to you in your kitchen…

  21. Posted November 15, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Gus is asleep at the moment, and I don’t have a cucumber available anyway, so I’ll have to try it later. However, I know that if were to place a leaf of lettuce, or a stalk of bok choy behind him, he would immediately devour it in preference to any other food.

    Greta Christina told me that her spouse Ingrid had had a cat that loved to eat red bell pepper — only red, mind you.

    I have found that one can’t generalize about cats.

  22. tubby
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I snuck a banana behind Orson while he was eating. He noticed it after but wasn’t impressed.

  23. Robin
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Every Spring, my many cats would catch snakes as they very lethargically slithered out of rock piles. The cats could easily catch them, and as it was cool outside (I lived at 7,600 in Colorado), they found bringing the snakes in the house to play with was far more pleasant. I can’t tell you them number of times that I would be cleaning and be startled by finding a snake. More often than not, they were alive so I would pick them up and take them back to the nice warm rock pile to recover. The cats never caught them once they were over their warm weather lethargy. Or at least, they never brought them in the house once it was pleasant enough outside.

  24. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    It is’nt just cats that jump from longish objects that turn up unexpectedly. Just today I was cleaning up the basement with my youngest son, and he picked up a box. There was a cord under it, and he was reflexively alarmed by it.

    • Dominic
      Posted November 16, 2015 at 3:23 am | Permalink

      How old?

  25. Posted November 15, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on peakmemory and commented:
    “cucumbers activate a long dormant snake-avoidance reflex.”

  26. Posted November 15, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    My outdoor cat, Swirl, while recovering in my laundry room from being neutered, killed a baby copperhead which had slithered through an opening to our crawlspace. Years later, after he had lost an eye to an injury, I was drawn to a commotion by a Robin Red Breast, which was chattering and flapping up and down. I came upon Swirl attacking a cotton-mouth that had come to the yard from the creek below. I intervened with a shovel to the snake who quickly withdrew from the yard to wetter spaces.

    As for cucumbers, notice how many of the cats were curious and exploring with their senses. Several of my kitties loved to chew cucumber skins! And green beans, even consuming cantaloupe.

  27. Posted November 15, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    This explanation as to why cats fear cucumbers sounds plausible to me.

    I would like to draw readers’ attention to a new book I think they would enjoy. Every year or two I read what I call a “transformative book,” one that explains in detail things I always wondered about or didn’t know. This year — the last one was about 3 years ago — it is a book called “Beyond Words — What Animals Think and Field” by Carl Safina. It deals with many type f animals, but concentrates especially on elephants, wolves and orcas. If you read it, you will be amazed at what these animals do, think, and feel and how close they are in these respects to human beings. “Beyond words” will utterly change your idea about the relationship humans and animals have with each other.

    • Billy Bl
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      Jane Goodall’s “In the Shadow of Man” was one of those transformative books for me. I had known we shared DNA with chimps but had not been aware of the emotions we shared.

  28. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    In a corollary, there will be a deep, and thankfully un-mined resource of cats being startled by 3-ft long dildos. And an even larger, probably un-posted, resource of cats doing eye-wateringly amusing things to some of said dildos.

  29. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    I, for one, am moderately surprised by the absence of the string “dil” in the discussion, until my comment of a few moments ago.

    If you’re brave and heartless enough, you can even use a rubber snake.

    Oh, yes, I forgot to anchor my comment to PCCE’s contemplations.

  30. John Taylor
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Tried sneaking a cucumber behind my cat. He just sniffed it a bit.

  31. Posted November 15, 2015 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    That is the conclusion I came to some days ago when people posted a couple of videos of cats instantly reacting as soon as they caught sight of a cucumber.

    Interestingly enough, when I was living in Kabul which was snowed-in and extremely cold in the winter of 1971-1972, starving wolves had come into the city at night. I was told by some Afghan friends that what they do when there are wolves lurking near at night, the men unwind their turbans (a very long piece of cloth that is practically twisted into the shape of a wide cord) and trail it behind them because wolves are afraid of snakes and will mistake the cord-like cloth for a snake, so they steer well away from the man. That is how they protect themselves from starving wolves in the winter.

  32. Kopper
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Have you considered the possibility that in the past cucumbers were aggresive to cats’ ancestors?

    • gluonspring
      Posted November 15, 2015 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps they still are…

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 16, 2015 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the great Cucumid-felid wars of 1534.

  33. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    I could be mistaken, but several of those alleged cucumbers look like zucchini to me.

  34. Lynn David
    Posted November 15, 2015 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    I think some of those were zucchinis. Rather than a snake, perhaps they think it is a weasel or something from that family. Surprise without recognition is what causes some of the reactions.

  35. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 16, 2015 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    A few weeks ago I saw a GIF (possibly on boredpanda, probably linked from this site) of a kitteh that saw a cucumber and did a spectacular leap into the air.

    Noticeable, as in the video above, is that the leap is instant and violent. It must be hard-wired or instinctive.

    This is not a deliberate spring, this is a get-the-hell-out-of-here-NOW jump. Also, the back of the cat always goes up higher than the front, so kitteh is in danger of nose-diving on landing. This is probably because kitteh’s back legs are more powerful than his/her front ones.

    Incidentally, our own eyes seem to be ‘wired’ to single out linear objects in the field of view. e.g. the spot-the-snakes recently.


  36. Dominic
    Posted November 16, 2015 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    Not just cats – arrrgggh!

  37. Posted November 16, 2015 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Closest thing I had in the house the other day was celery, so tried that. No effect – cat just sniffed it.

  38. Posted November 16, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    how would you feel if every time you turned around there was a cucumber behind you and you had no idea how it got there……s

  39. Posted November 16, 2015 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Nice Monty Python reference, by the way…

  40. kieran
    Posted November 16, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    My friend reported no reaction to a courgette(zucchini) with his cat

  41. Posted November 16, 2015 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Hey, sorry if I am repeating a comment already made. I scanned and found nothing.

    What strikes me about these reactions is not only that it’s a cucumber, it’s that the cuke has (been) sneaked into the cat’s peripersonal space — the close-range bubble of the world that animals ‘map’ with extra-heightened sensitivity. If out of the corner of your eye you suddenly notice something slide in close to you on the ground, for example, you jump or startle as well.

    Also, the cucumber has a fairly innocuous appearance, the same size and shape as many small animals — snake, lizard, rat, etc. This makes it threatening because it’s not immediately identifiable as unthreatening (especially since cats are not known to have good close range vision, as another commenter remarked).

    Last but not least, many of the cats in the videos seem to be eating, a time when they are presumably absorbed in eating while trying to maintain a heightened sense of protection over the delicious ‘kill’ of Meow Mix.

    I have no proof of any of this, of course. There may be a longstanding feud between cucumbers and cats of which I have somehow remained ignorant.

  42. Posted November 16, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    We tried it yesterday. No startle reaction. Cat sniffed it and moved on. Same reaction I’d expect from a shoe, hat or the like.

    Suspect boring footage, like ours is way under-represented (like zero) in the video results of cat reactions.

  43. Rachel
    Posted November 16, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    If only I’d seen this *before* I chopped up my only cucumber for a salad. I’ll have to get another one next time I buy groceries, to terrify my cats.

    I buy the snake-avoidance reflex. Usually my cat Lloyd us unflappable. He’ll sleep by the open window in the middle of a thunderstorm. The only time I saw him truly undone was when he encountered a garden hose. My poor boy leaped six feet in the air and knocked over a flowerpot. If he hadn’t been on a leash and harness, I think I’d have lost him. 😦

  44. Ekinodum
    Posted November 16, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    It occurs to me that if the cats are misidentifing these cucumbers as the emergent end of a snake, then it would be a relatively large one (maybe 8 feet long or longer, as a cobra, for instance) and the test of using a small toy snake is not a fair one.
    I would expect that any small moving animal including a snake could look like prey to a cat. A 10 foot long cobra however would not, and could easily get near a feeding cat without being noticed at first.

  45. Tess
    Posted November 16, 2015 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    big ole failure to replicate! I even made videos my cat being totally lackadaisical. A quick glance and in one case got close and sniffed the fruit and went back to eating

  46. Posted November 16, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    This theory probably doesn’t hold water. After extensive cucumber testing, I can conclude that my cats do not give a flying fiddle about seeing one. Perhaps it’s because they like eating cucumbers.

  47. Arcing
    Posted November 16, 2015 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the Cucumbers are making “snake” noises..

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 16, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      When your cucumber starts hissing, it’s time to get a new cucumber.

      • Merilee
        Posted November 25, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        Even more when the cuke pitches a hissy fit.

  48. chris
    Posted November 16, 2015 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    I think the cats that were going to have heart attacks all died off long ago and were eaten by snakes.

  49. Geoff P.
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    Before this cucumber trend, there were several videos of cats being startled by bananas and banana peels. You may be right that a long elongated object triggers an avoidance of snake instinct.

  50. Keith McNeil
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Copperhead snakes smell like cucumbers in the wild. That is my most likely reason.

    • John Scanlon FCD
      Posted November 17, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      I’ve been curious about this ever since first reading about it in The How and Why Wonder Book of Reptiles and Amphibians, which lamely and fallaciously tried to refute the claim with the question ‘can you describe the smell of cucumbers?’

      (Well no, because English, unlike Jahai, is crap at describing smells. But I can certainly recognise the smell of cucumber as soon as the cotyledons unfurl from the germinating seed.)

      I note that Zug and Ernst’s Snakes in Question also denies that it’s true, and say they cannot account for this widespread belief. It’s one of those things I would hope to test for myself one of these days, and is on my to-do list for things to do in the Americas if I ever get there. I have, very rarely, detected the presence of snakes in the wild by scent, but they only smell like snakes to me.

  51. Kimbo
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    To add to this hypothesis is that copperhead snakes smell like cucumbers…hunters will tell u that if ur in the woods and u smell cucumbers then there is a snake nearby

  52. Miranda
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I held a bottle of cucumber lime flavored Gatorade up to my car’s nose and she ran away, this makes me think that cats genuinely just don’t like cucumbers; as the smell alone turned her away.

    • merilee
      Posted November 18, 2015 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Your car’s nose??? LOL

  53. Golkarian
    Posted November 25, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    In case you haven’t seen it, scientists and cucumbers:

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  1. […] Desde que empezó el meme —en mayo de 2015— se repite la idea de que el pepino se parece a una serpiente y el gato huye de ellas instintivamente. El biólogo Jerry Coyne coincide con esa explicación: […]

  2. […] El biólogo evolucionista Jerry Coyne estuvo de acuerdo con la teoría de la serpiente. Él escribió en su blog: […]

  3. […] biólogo especialista en genética Jerry -que no Tom- Coyne, asegura en su blog que los gatos evitan los objetos alargados, finos y desconocidos (como, por ejemplo, los pepinos) […]

  4. […] Coyne en su blog explica que los gatos se asustan porque les tienen naturalmente miedo a las […]

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