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Back Away From That Cucumber, Say Some Cat Lovers

If you've been inspired by the viral videos of cats cowering from cucumbers, well, there are some animal experts out there who have some words for you.

Specifically ...



"It makes me question your humanity."

Those are cat-behavior expert John Bradshaw, author Pam Johnson-Bennett and animal behaviorist Jill Goldman, respectively.

They all spoke to National Geographic about their strong objections to people deliberately surprising their cats with sneakily placed salad fixings.

Most of us on the Two-Way fall under the category of "amused," not "appalled." We shared one such video yesterday, after suggesting the G-20 security team might need to add the oblong fruit to its arsenal.

In case you missed it, here's that greatest hits of catastrophe, as rounded up by the Huffington Post.

We should note that not all felines are distressed by the prank.

Some cats are as cool as a — well, you get it.

As for whymany cats are distressed, animal behaviorist Goldman shared some theories with National Geographic.

"Goldman explains that the cucumbers are triggering the cats' natural startle responses, since they 'would not normally see cucumbers on the floor.'

"It's also possible they may associate the green invader with snakes, which can be deadly predators, Goldman adds."

But is it cruel to provoke such distress? Cat lovers at NPR are torn over this. Video producer John Poole wants to try it out,"even though it doesn't seem a very nice thing to do." NPR Books editor Petra Mayer felt like "a terrible person" after cracking up at the videos.

Newscast producer Julia Bailey notes, however, that "nonmoving objects are sort of par for the course for what cats will encounter during their normal perambulations." Can such an ordinary item be that cruel?

AndWait Wait, Don't Tell Me! panelist Roxanne Roberts argues it's not a good idea to spook cats on purpose, but "the cucumber cat trick is pretty low on my list of things that question humanity, and my boys would probably be as unimpressed as they are with the expensive cat toys they ignore. ... Personally, I think Roombas are more entertaining."

And, she adds: "I also think it should be noted that if our cats could scare us with cucumbers, they totally would."

So what do you think? Cats and cucumbers ... Pure comedy? Pure cruelty? Or both mean and funny?

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.