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Why You Shouldn't Scare Your Cat With a Cucumber

You may have recently seen a viral video compilation of cats freaking out after they’ve been ambushed by a dastardly foe: the humble garden cucumber. In these videos, the kitties are usually eating, and their owners surreptitiously sneak up behind them, place the vegetable down, and wait for their pet to turn around.

According to IFLScience, the cats’ fearful reactions—which include jumping, running, or pawing at the long green vegetable—are likely due to the surprise element of having an unexpected object placed into their territory without notice. In short, you could likely replicate the experiment with any other vegetable. (Animal behavior specialists also have other theories, including that the cats might think the cucumber is a deadly snake or other predator.)

However, National Geographic reports that your cat’s fright is more harmful than hilarious. While the cucumber isn’t stressful to you, it’s stressful to the cat. And since your pet usually has positive associations with the space surrounding its food bowl, you’re startling it while it’s in its comfort zone. In worst case scenarios, it can react by hurting itself, breaking a household object, or remaining anxious for days.

Bottom line? Slowly introduce new toys and objects to your cat, as they’re a source of mental stimulation. Just don’t unexpectedly give it a cucumber—or for that matter, any other new item that might cause distress. 

[h/t National Geographic, IFLScience]

Header image via iStock.

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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