LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 (UPI) — A viral trend involving placing cucumbers behind cats has been deemed cruel and harmful behavior by some experts.
The trend, depicted in YouTube videos, involves sneakily placing a cucumber behind a cat, usually while it is eating. In most cases the cats become frightened at the sight of the cucumber and proceed to run away.
Animal behavior expert Dr. Roger Mumford sought to explain the phenomenon.
“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,” he said.
While the videos show off several amused cat owners, various experts told National Geographic that the practice is inhumane.
“If you cause stress to an animal that’s probably not a good thing,” animal behaviorist Jill Goldman said. “If you do it for laughs it makes me question your humanity.”
The primary problem with he cucumber trick is that it triggers a response in the cat similar to the one that occurs when they encounter predators in the wild. The juxtaposition of this feeling against the usual comfort of their feeding area can cause a cats a great deal of stress.
“With a startle response, a cat will often try to get out of there as quickly as possible and then reassess from a distance,” said Goldman.
Goldman also explained that cats are not used to seeing cucumbers on the floor, and the proper way to introduce cats to new items is by introducing them gradually.
“You wouldn’t want to meet someone new by having them shoved right in your face,” she said. “You’d want to meet them from a safe distance, such as a few arm lengths.”
Below are two examples of these viral videos: