So you’ve probably seen that viral video showing cats having the bejeezus scared out of them by a particularly snake-like vegetable: the lowly cucumber. Hilarious, right? Sure—if you’re a human. As a veterinary technician points out, this trending activity could cause lasting psychological problems for your feline companion.
The video, posted to YouTube on November 10, has already amassed nearly 1.5 million hits.
For you cat owners out there, I’m sure the temptation to try this at home is a very powerful one. But as Lara Chan of the Calgary Cat Clinic told CBC News, some cats are quite delicate, and this sudden shock could cause long-term problems:
Chan said the long, skinny shape of the vegetable scares the cats because they instinctively think it’s a snake — even if they’ve never seen a snake before.
“It’s that self-preservation,” she said. “We get quite fixated on cats being predators. But cats are also prey animals, they’re quite small. So they could fall victim to a snake.”
If you’ve already played this prank on your cat, Chan said, you may have inadvertently made them afraid of cucumbers — forever.
“You’re terrifying them. They’re reacting like this because they’re worried that something is going to hurt them. And you’re doing this in their house where you want them to be safe and secure.”
This trick, says Chan, may instill a long-standing, irrational fear of cucumbers in cats, which means owners would have to keep them away from the lowly vegetable for the rest of their lives. Sounds silly and trite, but it’s important that your cat feels safe in its own home environment, and that you don’t abuse your cat with this brain-hack.