How a parasite from your cat might effect your personality and behavior
February 11, 2012
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I had read about this before, but never in depth like this, and never had I read about the source of the idea. Worth a read, for sure.
How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy.
Particularly interesting where the statistics on infected men and women:
The subjects who tested positive for the parasite had significantly delayed reaction times. Flegr was especially surprised to learn, though, that the protozoan appeared to cause many sex-specific changes in personality. 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… they were more outgoing, trusting, image-conscious, and rule-abiding than uninfected women.
The link to higher rates of traffic accidents was fascinating, too. At least we don’t have fatal feline attraction:
… infected rats were more active and less cautious in areas where predators lurk. But then, in a simple, elegant experiment, she and her colleagues demonstrated that the parasite did something much more remarkable. They treated one corner of each rat’s enclosure with the animal’s own odor, a second with water, a third with cat urine, and the last corner with the urine of a rabbit, a creature that does not prey on rodents. “We thought the parasite might reduce the rats’ aversion to cat odor,” she told me. “Not only did it do that, but it actually increased their attraction. They spent more time in the cat-treated areas.” She and other scientists repeated the experiment with the urine of dogs and minks, which also prey on rodents. The effect was so specific to cat urine, she says, that “we call it ‘fatal feline attraction.’”
Go read the whole thing. It’s better than SciFi.