We love our cats but there are some people who love them maybe just bit too much and seem to collect them like other people collect stamps or bottle caps the only problem is that at some point they cross the line from being a cat lover to being that crazy cat person that we all like to make fun of.
In fact if the research of evolutionary biologist Jaroslav Flegr from the Charles University in Prague is even close to being on the money those crazy cat people could be suffering from a medical illness due to those cats that they love so much.
Now it is a well know fact that cats carry a very tiny organism that gets excreted in their feces and is potentially dangerous to humans. This is one reason that pregnant women are warned to stay away from cat litter boxes during their pregnancy as the parasite can be transmitted to their unborn child and could lead to brain damage or death.
The parasite is called Toxoplasma gondii (T.gondii or Toxo for short) and Flegr believes it can also affect a healthy person’s brain.
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. And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.”
via The Atlantic
Flegr has been pursuing this theory in relative obscurity for decades, and a certain ridicule from those that have seen his research. However that may change as some scientists, like Robert Sapolsky from Stanford, think that Flegr may actually be onto something with his theory.
Flegr’s “studies are well conducted, and I can see no reason to doubt them,” Sapolsky tells me. Indeed, recent findings from Sapolsky’s lab and British groups suggest that the parasite is capable of extraordinary shenanigans. T. gondii, reports Sapolsky, can turn a rat’s strong innate aversion to cats into an attraction, luring it into the jaws of its No. 1 predator. Even more amazing is how it does this: the organism rewires circuits in parts of the brain that deal with such primal emotions as fear, anxiety, and sexual arousal. “Overall,” says Sapolsky, “this is wild, bizarre neurobiology.” Another academic heavyweight who takes Flegr seriously is the schizophrenia expert E. Fuller Torrey, director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute, in Maryland. “I admire Jaroslav for doing [this research],” he says. “It’s obviously not politically correct, in the sense that not many labs are doing it. He’s done it mostly on his own, with very little support. I think it bears looking at. I find it completely credible.”
via The Atlantic
So folks, the next time you see some crazy cat person disappearing into the home full of cats you might want to think twice about making fun of then because they may in fact be ‘crazy’.