The weekly column from our resident non-cat-lover
Science is now confirming what I’ve long suspected: an irrational and overly enthusiastic love for cats (or “Crazy Cat Lady” syndrome) is most definitely a disease, and it’s caused by a contagious parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. This by itself might not sound like such bad news to you fur-o-philes reading WWW, but I urge you to read on . . .
As Sharon Moalem (author of Survival of the Sickest) describes it: The parasite Toxoplasma gondii “needs to make its way to cats if it wants to reproduce sexually . . . recent research uncovered some shocking mind control tricks that toxoplasmosis uses . . . it seems that being infected with toxoplasmosis can change the behavior of mice. First off the mice get fat and then they seem to lose their fear of cats, which of course turns them into cat food.”
So, having this parasitic disease first makes mice fat, and then makes them like cats. That doesn’t happen to humans, though, does it?
So a few more mice get eaten. What’s the big deal? In addition to widely credited research suggesting links between the parasite and schizophrenia, eye disease leading to blindness, and the flu-like symptoms of an active infection, Wikipedia reports that “correlations have been found between latent Toxoplasma infections and various characteristics such as decreased novelty-seeking behavior, slower reactions, feelings of insecurity, and neuroticism.” Hm. That sounds eerily familiar.
What’s more, an Australian researcher has found compelling evidence that infected men “have lower IQs, achieve a lower level of education and have shorter attention spans . . are also more likely to break rules and take risks, be more independent, more anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose, and are deemed less attractive to women.” The same researcher found that infected women “tend to be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected controls.” Both men and women with the parasite are “2.7 times more likely than uninfected people to be involved in a car accident as a driver or pedestrian.”
I know you’ll probably say that you LIKE sitting home on Friday night, watching reruns of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman on TVLand with Mr. Mittens, putting off going to the bathroom because it just seems like so much work.
Perhaps you don’t mind that your stupid, underachieving, ugly boyfriend is in prison again after crashing his car into a male competitor’s mailbox. And it’s possible that you enjoy crying into your pillow because of your intense feeling of loneliness and worthlessness, feelings exacerbated by your general whorish behavior and deteriorating eyesight.
Maybe when you’ve let it all out, your cat starts purring and pawing, bringing a smile to your face, making it all better. Or maybe, someday, your entire life story will be summed up in one horrific headline: Fort Worth woman who kept 185 dead cats loses custody of 100-plus live animals.