Aloof, elegant, in possession of nine lives, beloved by the internet. Cats have no weaknesses - or so we thought.
It turns out that the chink in the feline armour is the humble cucumber, and the internet is awash with videos of people’s cats leaping out of their skins as they turn from their food bowls to find the ominous green vegetable has been placed behind them.
It’s hilarious, yes. Cathartic for cat haters. It’s nice to be reminded that no animal is perfect, not even the high-minded cat you share your house with.
But cucumbers are hardly the most menacing of fruit, so their pets’ reactions to them have had cat owners baffled.
Animal behaviour specialist Dr Roger Mugford says, “I think that the reaction is due to the novelty and unexpectedness of finding an unusual object secretly placed whilst their heads were down in the food bowl.
“Cats have to be suspicious of the unknown: It could represent the danger of a snake or another predator. I suspect that there would be the same reaction to a model spider, a plastic fish or a human face mask.”
Other theories are that cucumbers remind cats of deadly snakes, thus triggering the startle response that includes leaping into the air.
But amusing and cathartic as the videos may be, animal specialists have warned that you could be doing serious damage to your furry friends.
“If you cause stress to an animal that’s probably not a good thing,” Jill Goldman, a certified animal behaviourist in southern California, adds. “If you do it for laughs it makes me question your humanity.”
But if you aren’t quite ready to quit just yet, here’s a handy compilation for you: