A viral YouTube video featuring felines freaking out at the sight of cucumbers should not inspire you to try it with your own cat, says a Calgary animal health technician.

"What I actually worry about is long-term psychological problems. Some cats are quite delicate," said Lara Chan with the Calgary Cat Clinic.

The video, which has hundreds of thousands of views, shows cat owners sneaking cucumbers behind their kitties while they're feeding.

'You're terrifying them. They're reacting like this because they're worried that something is going to hurt them.' – Lara Chan, Calgary Cat Clinic

When the cats turn around and see the cucumber, they get spooked — and some of them jump pretty high in the air.

Chan said the long, skinny shape of the vegetable scares the cats because they instinctively think it's a snake — even if they've never seen a snake before.

"It's that self-preservation," she said.

"We get quite fixated on cats being predators. But cats are also prey animals, they're quite small. So they could fall victim to a snake."

Cucumber trauma

If you've already played this prank on your cat, Chan said, you may have inadvertently made them afraid of cucumbers — forever.

"You're terrifying them. They're reacting like this because they're worried that something is going to hurt them. And you're doing this in their house where you want them to be safe and secure."

Chan said once the damage has been done, the only thing you can do is keep them away from cucumbers for the rest of their lives.

Unless you're already a cucumber farmer.

"If your cat has a high exposure rate to cucumbers, it's probably not going to turn around and think it was anything other than a cucumber. We worry about the ones that have never, ever seen a cucumber before."  

With files from The Calgary Eyeopener