Expert Warns Against Startling Cat After Video Goes Viral: 'Panicked'

Cats are endlessly popular online—from the cute to the hilarious, internet users love to see felines in all manner of situations, and owners love sharing their favorite mog moments too.

But one viral video on Reddit has prompted a cat behaviorist to warn against intentionally frightening your feline friends for the sake of content.

With more than 38,000 upvotes, a video shared by Redditor dylan15766 has sparked debate online after he pranked his feline friend with a cat mask—terrifying the cat.

In the video, a man crawls up to the unsuspecting pet, who is sitting on the windowsill, before revealing his face wearing a cardboard cat mask. After a moment to process what he is seeing, the cat jumps up and tries to run, leaving viewers divided.

"There went one life, eight to go," joked one Reddit user. Another commenter saw the funny side and said: "This is my new favorite video."

But other Redditors were sympathetic to the cat's worry. One commenter said: "That poor cat."

Far from the first online video of a cat getting a little fright, a few years ago thousands of videos appeared online after people learned that cats had a particular aversion to cucumbers.

Cat behavior consultant Alice Chau-Ginguene told Newsweek: "The cat in the video is having a panicked moment. Not only just frightened, I think his body language shows he feels threatened and worried for his life.

"It might sound dramatic but from an animal point of view, nature is full of danger. They are always alert to threats that could cause them injury or worse. A cat mask like this might feel harmless to us, but from their point of view, better safe than sorry."

"That cat buffered trying to understand what it was looking at," said one Reddit user after watching the video. While another suggested it was: "Uncanny valley for cats."

Another commenter said: "That was straight up some abrupt chaos," and one viewer of the video wrote: "Its soul legit left its body."

"Cats cannot afford to spend 3 more seconds to figure out that it's a mask, the smartest line of actions for an animal is to run first from the potential danger, hence the result you see in the video. From his point of view, a big animal with big eyes creeping up on him, 'Danger! Run!', explained Chau-Ginguene.

"I hope the public would understand the implication of this," she said: "While it might seem like a fun prank, it's not fun for the cats, they are genuinely frightened for their lives."

Last month, another cat was shocked by a fake cat when their owner tried on a feline face filter much to the stunned cat's surprise.

Newsweek has reached out to dylan15766 for comment.

Startled cat looks at camera
A file photo of a startled cat looking directly at the camera. A viral video of a cat being frightened by a cat mask has sparked debate online. sergey mikheev/Getty Images