And what if I tell you that almost half the population are infected with toxoplasmosis, and we might love a cat’s urine instead? And that we don’t need to be a lady or to be crazy to have the Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome?
Before you report us as “Fake News”, read on first because this article is based on science.
Or if you’d prefer to, you can watch this video we’ve done about this topic here (remember to watch till the end for all the cat cuteness):
Toxoplasmosis (Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome), a Disease That Could Have Caused Humans to Like Cats
Here are the basics: studies show that a parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii could control your brain, though people who are infected would have no symptoms. This is mainly transmitted to you via cats.
So, you might have that parasite in you too.
But what is a parasite? Is that a virus?
So in order to understand this article, we need to know more about virus, bacteria and parasites.
Because once you know more about parasites, you’d know this isn’t fake news, but something you probably didn’t want to know.
In case you are unsure what is a virus, here’s a crash course.
A virus is a small tiny thing (submicroscopic infectious agent) that carries its genetic material. It survives and reproduces by going into any living thing’s cell and hijacking the cell’s machinery.
Basically, a freeloader in your body.
Bacteria is bigger than the virus. You can think of them as a single cell, doing the same thing as normal humans.
They’re also small and reproduce super-fast, but unlike a virus, they can live alongside our cells instead of getting into our cells to reproduce.
Parasites are even bigger than bacteria and viruses. While many are so small that we can’t see them with our naked eyes, some are so big, they can be seen.
Unlike viruses and bacteria, parasites don’t just create havoc in our body mindlessly.
Some of them can be pretty smart, jumping from hosts to hosts and even have SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure).
An example would be the malaria parasites that are spread by mosquitoes.
Malaria Parasites through Mosquitoes
When the mosquitoes bite you, the parasite will get into your bloodstream through the bite. It’ll then swim through the bloodstream to your liver, and your liver will then be used as a breeding place for the parasites.
By then, the parasite and its offspring will create some protein in the red blood cells so that they’ll stick to the blood vessels. This will make the parasites invisible to the body.
From then on, it will drain the blood cells’ nutrients and produce proteins to make the blood cells sticky again. That will eventually create a mini colony in the human body.
Unlike a virus that just mindlessly infect cells that make us sick, a parasite infects the body or organs with a system that they’ve perfected through the years.
Which leads to the next point: what if, instead of messing with our blood, they mess with our brain?
Well, it turns out that it’s quite common.
The best example? The parasite Nematomorpha, commonly known as the horsehair worm.
Horsehair Worm that Infects the Grasshopper
The horsehair worm grows as a larva in a grasshopper, and because it needs to be in the water when it “grows up”, it’ll control the grasshopper.
A grasshopper can’t swim, but when the parasite grows older, it’ll go into the mind of the grasshopper and “tell” the grasshopper to jump into a body of water, which the grasshopper will mindlessly implement the instruction like a BMT recruit.
The grasshopper will then drown to death and the parasite will emerge from the grasshopper in the water it so desires.
Kind of like how the alien came out from a person’s chest in Aliens.
And yes, this mind-control thingy could be the reason why some of us are obsessed with cats.
Toxoplasma Gondii Infects Rats and Mice
Toxoplasma Gondii is a single-celled creature that wants to reproduce fast and spread to as many rats and mice as possible.
But to reproduce, it needs a good environment to do that, and rats and mice aren’t a good environment for them to reproduce. The best environment, you’ve guessed it, is a cat’s stomach.
That is a problem since a mouse without the parasite will avoid the cat at all costs.
However, the parasite causes mice and rats to lose that instinctive fear and even become attracted to a cat’s urine, kind of like how the horsehair worm controls the mind of a grasshopper.
These rats would then approach a cat willingly, and if a cat is hungry enough, it’ll eat the mouse.
The parasite can reproduce in the cat’s stomach, and the cat’s faeces will contain the offspring of the parasite.
That will start the life cycle of the parasite.
If a cat heeds Lawrence Wong’s advice and keeps itself clean, then there won’t be any issue, but we all know that cats do what they want without any regard for the laws, which means it’ll touch its faeces whenever it likes and touch us whenever it likes.
And because of that…
Toxoplasmosis Influences a Range of Human Behaviours (Like Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome?)
The parasite causes a disease called toxoplasmosis. People who are infected usually have no obvious symptoms in adults though some people will have mild flu-like symptoms initially.
Although studies for this theory is still ongoing, there is some evidence that the disease might influence a range of human behaviours and tendencies.
One of which is that it’ll cause you to take more risks. Studies show that people with the disease have a higher tendency to start their businesses. Another association is infected individuals have a higher risk of getting into traffic accidents due to their slower reaction time.
There is some evidence that Toxoplasmosis is linked to schizophrenia as well.
However, because toxoplasma Gondii causes mice and rats to “love” cats, scientists have a theory: it might also cause infected human beings to “love” cats, too.
If you think about it, it actually makes sense.
Do remember that studies are still ongoing so nothing is 100% confirmed.
But given how many people seem so obsessed with cats, you can bet that even if one doesn’t have toxoplasmosis, these cats will somehow find their ways into our heart.
Featured Image: Yimmyphotography / Shutterstock.com