Cats have a dramatic reaction to things that they don’t like. They’ll bolt at the sight of the hose, hide when the vacuum comes out, and take off when you eat certain foods such as bananas.
Cats are afraid of bananas because the banana peel’s outer skin emits ethene as it ripens. Cats pick up on this chemical scent, which may signal them that the object is dangerous. Felines are curious and may approach the banana at first, but once they get a good whiff of it, they usually run away.
What is it in the banana peel that makes it so unappealing to cats, and why do most cats have this same reaction? What other foods “scare” cats? To find out the answer to these questions and more, read on.
Table of Contents
Myth: Banana Peels Are Toxic to Cats
It’s commonly said that banana peels are toxic to cats, and that’s why they are afraid of them. However, this is completely false. Banana peels might be extremely bitter and unpleasant to chew, but they won’t kill your cat.
Cats can eat bananas, but they aren’t very healthy for them. While the potassium and complex carbs make this tropical fruit beneficial for humans, the high sugar content can cause obesity and diabetes in cats. Felines are heavy meat-eaters, with only minimal micronutrients from vegetation necessary for their health.
The Chemical Smell of Ethene
Most cats are not afraid of bananas. Instead, they have an aversion to the chemical smell of the ethene that bananas emit. Ethene (C2H4) is a naturally occurring gas active component in the fruit ripening process.
Bananas and other fruits emit ethene as they ripen. This gas can smell overly sweet and musky, though the scent of a banana is so slight that you may not notice it. To your cat, however, the smell may be completely overbearing. A cat’s nose has 40 times the odor-sensitive cells than that of a human. It’s no wonder they balk at the sickeningly sweet banana scent, which could verge on the smell of rotten fruit to them.
Other fruits that produce ethene as they ripen include:
You Are Annoying Your Cat
Your cat may also not be afraid of bananas at all. Instead, your pet could be afraid of a strange object that has been placed near him, especially if you’ve planted it nearby while he was sleeping. You can imagine how weirded out you might be if you woke up in your bed with a huge watermelon sitting next to your head. Now imagine if that watermelon stunk to all heavens! You’d probably try and get away as fast as you could, too.
The banana might also not be the issue at all. Your cat might run away from it because of how you act when you present it to them. If you’re shoving the banana in your cat’s face or chasing it around the house with yellow fruit outstretched, your pet is likely scared of you, not of the banana.
Is It Dangerous To Have Bananas Around Cats?
It is not dangerous to have bananas around cats. While your furry friend might despise bananas and the smell they produce, bananas are not toxic to your cat. You can safely store bananas on your counter, eat bananas in front of your cat, and even feed them a tiny piece as a rare treat if they like them.
You can use your cat’s aversion to the yellow fruit to your advantage. Many pet-owners encounter issues with their kitties jumping on their counter and kitchen table. If your cat hates bananas, you can try and deter him from spending time on your countertop by placing a big bowl of bananas in the middle. You can heighten the effect by adding in another bowl of citrus fruits, which cats also often cannot stand.
Other Objects That Cats Are Afraid Of
Cats hate many things, and when they hate them, they truly despise them. Bananas are just one of many foods and objects that house cats run away from. Take a look at other things that could be the cause of your cat’s fear.
At least as equally infamous as bananas, cats are known for being terrified of cucumbers. These long green vegetables can spook even the most steely cat. Take a look at this compilation of cats being scared by cucumbers if you haven’t seen this phenomenon before:
Why are cats so terrified of cucumbers? There are a few different theories. Like bananas, the animal might simply be afraid of the sudden appearance of a new object within its direct vicinity. Cats are astutely aware of changes in their environment, and when something catches them off guard, they are mortified. So the overreaction from the cat toward the cucumber might just be because they weren’t expecting it.
Another popular theory for why cats are so afraid of cucumbers is that cucumbers remind them of some sort of snake or another unlikable predator. A cucumber could appear as a venomous slug or simply an unknown being, one that a kitten assumes is dangerous.
While some cats take naps in the sink, most of the felines run for cover when you try and bathe them. Your pet might act like his entire life depends on not getting wet, and in some ways, it may.
It’s not that water is dangerous for cats; they naturally know how to swim– at least enough to get out of the water– but cats mostly evolved in dry areas of the world. Some big cats, like the jaguar, won’t hesitate to follow their prey into the water, but for your average housecat, water is for drinking, not swimming.
Your pet likely hates water because of the effect it has on their fur, too. Having wet fur doesn’t feel good for a cat, and they will have to spend the next few hours grooming themselves until they are dry, something they will be very particular about.
Your furry friend might disappear at the sight of a birthday balloon, especially if they’ve encountered one before. Cats are likely to bat at a balloon the first time they see one, assuming it is some sort of fun, floaty cat toy. However, a cat that has claws will easily pop a balloon if they swat at it too many times, and the ensuing explosion will cause the cat to launch itself elsewhere in search of safety.
Many cats have been known to run and hide after catching a glimpse of themselves in the mirror. Most likely, this happens with young kittens who haven’t yet learned that the animal in the closet is their reflection. Even older cats can be startled by their reflection if they pass by a surface they didn’t expect to be reflective, like the side of a car or dark-tinted glass.
Cats are not usually afraid of bananas themselves; the fruits are harmless and not toxic to cats. It is most likely the bananas’ smell that makes cats run off. Since their sense of smell is so efficient, the ethene that bananas give off can be downright disturbing to a cat.
If your pet seems terrified of bananas, then you should avoid using this fear as some sort of party trick for your entertainment. Your cat could become increasingly traumatized and hostile and eventually take his anger out on you– or the fruit bowl.
- Wikipedia: Ethylene
- Cats International: The Amazing Sense of Smell
- University of Maine: The Role of Ethylene in Fruit Ripening
- The Telegraph: Picture of the Day
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Why Do Cats Hate Water
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.