No Cucumbers for My Cats

Is it really that fun to scare your cat?

Practically everybody has seen the viral video of cats being terrified by cucumbers placed near them while they’re eating. It’s supposed to be funny, and it is such a bizarre sight that when I watched it, at times it was hard for me not to burst out laughing … but in the back of my mind, I was thinking, “I would never do such a thing to Summer.”

I work very hard to make sure Summer feels safe in any environment. I take her shopping, and we go out of town for cat shows, conferences and the occasional recreational trip. I hope to have her certified as a therapy cat next spring. It’s crucial that she remains brave, curious, and not skittish. To startle her as a practical joke could potentially undo a lot of hard work she and I have done together.

Even though my other two cats, Binga and Boodie, are your basic indoor-only cats who don’t go anywhere other than the vet clinic, it would be just as mean and potentially damaging to play this trick on them too. Binga has always been our greeter — whenever anyone shows up at our house, she must come over, say hello and visit. She’s charmed many people, even some non-cat lovers, and I would hate for her to become a scaredy cat. Boodie? Poor Boodie — she was a fearful, semi-feral kitten that hissed at everyone who tried to come near her. The only way I was able to befriend her was by playing with her with fishing pole style toys — that way we interacted but I was able to keep enough distance between us so that she felt “safe.” It took her years for her to be comfortable around me and my fiancé, even though she adopted us as family early on. She’s sweet and a little pathetic, and nobody ever wants to anything mean to her. Boodie deserves a life of no surprises and no practical jokes.

Deep within all cats’ DNA, they have an instinctual understanding of what it’s like to be both predator and prey. These creatures are hyperaware, so when something as seemingly innocuous as a cucumber manages to sneak up on them, no wonder they overreact so spectacularly. And funny as it may look, that’s really a bad thing. Humans have to earn a cat’s trust, and for a cat’s wellbeing, it’s important for them to feel secure within their own home. To play this type of practical joke on your cat betrays the trust you’ve built with her, and makes her feel like there are dangerous things lurking in a place she formerly considered safe. Why would anyone want to do that to their cat?

Cucumbers are great in salads and refreshing in iced water. As a tool to punk your cat? Just don’t do it.

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