Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash

The case against your cat

examining Toxoplasma gondii, the brain-hijacking, behavior-altering parasite that is possibly lurking in your kitty’s litter box.

Cat videos and memes can be found all over the internet. The popularity of the adorable felines is something that has been widespread ever since the time of the ancient Egyptians. Cat content and admiration can be found everywhere, from the roadrunner Instagram to box office hits but It’s time we discuss the less Instagrammable side of owning a cat, The Toxoplasma gondii. It’s not just about scratched furniture anymore; it’s about brain-invading parasites.

This unique parasite ( The Toxoplasma gondii ) can turn a fearless mouse into a cat-cuddling daredevil, or a responsible human into a reckless speedster. Yes, this is real and this brain-hijacking, behavior-altering parasite is possibly lurking in your kitty’s litter box.

When it’s not vacationing in a cat’s intestines (its favorite resort), it’s out in the world, encased in protective shells, looking for its next host. Humans can contact Toxoplasma gondii’ up from undercooked meats, unwashed veggies, or – you guessed it – cleaning herbies’ litter box.

For most people, Toxoplasma gondii’s stay is uneventful, maybe a mild flu-like episode but nothing too crazy But for pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems, it’s a whole different ball game. It can cause congenital infections in newborns and severe complications in others.

Some studies suggest a correlation between Toxoplasma infection and altered behavior in humans – think increased risk-taking or impulsivity. Sounds crazy but yes your cat poops a tiny parasite that can potentially turn you into a speed junkie or an adrenaline-seeker. 

But before you give Fluffy the side-eye, remember, that human infection is more often linked to eating that rare steak than to your furry friend.

So, is it time to bid adieu to your purring roommate? Not quite. While the connection between cats and Toxoplasma gondii is undeniable, it’s more a story of coexistence than outright villainy. Simple measures like washing hands, cooking meat well, and handling cat litter carefully can keep you safe.

While examining Toxoplasma gondii, cats are just one part of the narrative. In reality, our pets are just co-stars in this microscopic drama of parasitic proportions.


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  • R

    ramona espindulaDec 27, 2023 at 10:46 pm

    Very interesting!

    • N

      Nathan EspindulaDec 28, 2023 at 2:55 pm

      Thank you!