Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Sophie. Sophie Wonders, “Why are cats scared of cucumbers?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Sophie!

We were wandering past the Wonderopolis garden the other day when we saw a couple of dogs with a basket. This seemed a bit unusual to us, so we stopped to listen to their conversation:

Dog 1: Hey Rex! Should we get some of these carrots?

Dog 2: No, Spot, I already told you we only need some cucumbers!

Dog 1: That's right! Sorry. What are we going to use them for again? To make a salad?

Dog 2: No! Dogs don't eat salads. We're going to use them to scare the cats.

Listening to their conversation didn't really clarify matters any further, so we continued on our way. We did begin to WONDER, though…exactly what were those dogs going to do with those cucumbers? And why did they think cats would be scared of them?

After doing some Internet research and watching a few viral videos, we finally got to the bottom of this cats and cucumbers business. As many fans of viral cat videos already know, it appears that many cats do indeed seem to be terrified of cucumbers.

The viral cat and cucumber videos that quickly became popular online tend to involve someone placing a cucumber on the floor behind a cat while the cat is otherwise occupied, such as when it is eating or drinking. When the cat turns around and sees the cucumber, it usually exhibits a strong reaction.

Some cats freak out, jump into the air, and run away. Others stare at the cucumber as if afraid it will attack them. Many cats appear extremely curious and wary. While some cats don't show any type of fear, the majority does seem to be afraid of cucumbers.

What's going on here? Is this an innate behavior that has been passed down through generation after generation of cats as a result of an ancient, prehistoric cat being attacked by a giant cucumber? Not likely!

Could cats hate the taste of cucumbers so much that they can't stand the sight of them? How could they? Cucumbers can be turned into delicious pickles!

Instead, scientists have a couple of theories about why many cats seem to have exaggerated reactions to cucumbers. For example, some believe that cats may think cucumbers look like snakes. Mistaking a cucumber for a potentially-dangerous predator would certainly explain a strong negative reaction.

Others, however, think that cats might simply be experiencing a fear of the unknown that elicits a startle response. Rather than being afraid of just cucumbers, they believe cats would have similar reactions to a pineapple, a plunger, or a plastic spider — or anything placed secretly behind them.

Animal experts warn that you shouldn't go testing other items to see whether they'll scare cats. Purposefully trying to scare cats — with cucumbers or any other items — isn't nice and can cause cats unnecessary stress that can be harmful to their health.

Wonder What's Next?

Want to travel the world? We’re leaning toward taking a trip to Italy tomorrow in Wonderopolis!