“cucumbers activate a long dormant snake-avoidance reflex.”
Several people have called this video to my attention, and although I don’t approve of startling cats, especially by sneaking up behind them and depositing cucumbers, there may be a biological lesson in the video. Here’s my hypothesis, which is mine: the cats have genetic predisposition to be scared of snakes—a disposition instilled in their distant ancestors by natural selection. Clearly, those wild cats lacking a tendency to avoid long, thin, and unrecognized objects wouldn’t leave as many genes behind as cats having genes for a startle reflex.
So I think these cats are startled because, to them, cucumbers activate a long dormant snake-avoidance reflex. This can be tested, of course, at least in part. I would urge readers to sneak up behind their cats and deposit a variety of fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, apples, bananas, avocados, broccoli, and so on. If you’re brave and heartless enough, you can even use a rubber…
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