For as long as I can remember, I’ve disliked cats. I probably got the attitude from my father, who was allergic and disliked animal hair on his black slacks (he wore black slacks a lot – my dad’s got style). It’s not usually a big deal – I don’t hate cats or anything, I’m just not a fan. If you can split the world into ‘cat people’ and ‘dog people’ I am totally a ‘dog person’. I love dogs. They’re awesome. Cats are some special combination of insane, needy and dickish; dogs just want to play. Plus you can train dogs to do stuff – cats train you.
I don’t like cats, is what I’m saying.
But you know who does like cats? The fucking internet. I can’t go three links on Reddit without someone posting a picture of their goddamn cat doing something completely uninteresting. “Look, he’s sitting in a shoebox!” Hi-fucking-larious, bro! A million upvotes for you! “Look, she’s chasing a laser pointer because of an instinctual attraction to movement and a lack of comprehension of human technology!” Wowee! I’ve never seen that a million times before! That certainly didn’t stop being amusing to me by the time I turned 8!
I don’t like people who go nuts about cats, is what I’m saying.
But now I think I have a bit more sympathy for them:
The parasite, which is excreted by cats in their feces, is called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii or Toxofor short) and is the microbe that causes toxoplasmosis—the reason pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes. Since the 1920s, doctors have recognized that a woman who becomes infected during pregnancy can transmit the disease to the fetus, in some cases resulting in severe brain damage or death.
But if Flegr is right, the “latent” parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents.
It’s not ‘cat people’s fault that they’re nuts – their brains are crawling with parasites! People who post videos of their cats doing things that are
really cute and interesting entirely typical of cats? It’s parasites. People who enter cat fashion shows? Parasites. People whose otherwise perfectly wonderful blogs are festooned with pictures of cat after cat after cat? Parasites explain it all! Somehow, these devious parasites are able to crawl through the internet tubes and infect the readers too, so that instead of a perfectly reasonable response like “yo, what’s with all the cat pictures?”, they instead respond with “OMG that’s so cute! He didn’t quite make that jump onto the bed and fell a little bit! ADORABLE!”
So Jen, Greta, I totally understand that you can’t control yourselves and… oh wait, hold on…
Compared with uninfected men, males who had the parasite were more introverted, suspicious, oblivious to other people’s opinions of them, and inclined to disregard rules. Infected women, on the other hand, presented in exactly the opposite way: they were more outgoing, trusting, image-conscious, and rule-abiding than uninfected women.
Rule-abiding? Trusting of authority? Yeah… that’s not you two at all. You’re on your own – parasites can’t explain you.
By the way, there is a follow-up study that says that an affinity for otters is a sign of virility, intelligence, and is associated with behaviours that the authors describe as “totally badass”.
I can’t help being this way – it’s science.
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