Triad: cats may be something more than what we see

JEDCline 20070803

Cats have been with us for thousands of years, originally a symbiosis where they kept the mice population down in granaries where people's grain was stored, and the cats got fed too as part of the deal. Yet, this may actually be a triad relationship, which has lasted for thousands of years.

Sure, cats have superstitiously been attributed with strange powers, such as a black cat's movement across in front of one's travel has specific meaning to the person. Such superstition tales have persisted.

But more recently, science has found some very curious oddities associated with cats.

One is their association with the odd parasite Toxoplasmosis gondii.

Another is the repeatable phenomenon of a cat in a nursing home sensing impending death with uncanny accuracy.

So, there may be a third critter in the overall symbiosis system here, besides cats and people: the Toxoplasmosis gondii micro-creature. Scientists had found out that this microbe lives in the gut of cats as adults, and at certain parts of their life cycle, the T. gondii discharge their eggs that then get deposited outside by the cat, lightly covered with dirt (or cat litter inside a home.) These eggs await in the ground until intaked by non-cats, such as mice.

This kind of thing is a common type of parasite life cycle but here is where it starts to get interesting: the mice who have thereby become inhabited by the Toxoplasmosis gondii parasite, start to become attracted to cat's presence, including liking trace amounts of the urine odor that cats use to mark as territory. This becomes a fatal attraction to the mice - or whatever - and when the mouse is eaten by a cat, the Toxoplasmosis gondii re-enters a cat digestive system to begin the life cycle again.

So here we have a micro-critter which requires the specific environment of a cat's gut as part of its life cycle; then the spread in dirt dust particles or cat litter dust, where it then inhaled or in food consumption dust, where it has another part of its life cycle which produces a strange psychological effect on that host.

Part of it is to make the host attracted to cats.

In humans, it has also been found to cause the mental perception variation called Schizophrenia, of various amounts. Worldwide the infection percentage of people is quite high; some estimates of population infection rate range from 22% in the UK to 88% of the French. Since cats have been with us apparently since at least the dawn of agricultural civilization, the aggregate psychological shifts in people may have made overall quite an influence on the historical flow of what people have done in civilization.

We normally consider microbes as just being benign such as in those which help us digest our food, to being not-benign such as those which cause the flu and such illnesses. Now it appears that a microbe can alter the psychological functioning of humans, too. This perhaps can be considered as just another illness, yet a very curious illness indeed.

The Toxoplasmosis gondii microbe can also be passed from mother to child in the womb, it has been found, another means of propagation of the micro-critter.

So here is a three-way interdependent symbiosis of creatures: the cats, the micro-creature Toxoplasmosis gondii, and the people. And the micro-creature contributes a significant psychological component to the system.

Although the micro-creature's psychological contribution the the cat system was only to draw food close to cats for easy meals, it has clearly gotten more complex when humans got into the loop. For example, they also provide easy meals via cans of cat food, for their pet cats in the house. The schiznophrenic psychological change of "personality" in not just mice but also in people, can have major consequences on people's lives.

For example, a couple of decades ago I had a very dear girlfriend, who told me she had something called "Toxolasmosis" but that meant nothing to me at the time except that she felt it would harm children she bore. Yet looking back, I now see that her quite odd behavior at times was probably caused by the Toxoplasmosis infection she had. Sometimes she would get a strange look in her eyes and say things like "she was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea"; she sometimes would crawl under the dining table and stay there while saying a string of odd accusations and appeared to not hear my replies at all correctly. Once she and her kids and I had gone in my car to a distant town for entertainment, and when we returned to my car, we all got in except her, and she told us to leave and abandon her there ... I refused to leave her there ... and the next day she thanked me for not leaving her there. She attempted suicide at least twice. She always had cats in the house, including the cat litter, which presumably was shedding its Toxoplasmosis egg stages into all who were there in her homes, such as herself, her 5 children, her separated husband who spent Sundays there with she and children, her various other menfolk she had accumulated including me, as I was the main financial provider at the time. So I know of its effects on her life. And quite likely on the lives of the rest of us, all who loved her dearly. Even her little pet dog nursed the cat's kittens, I now remember, which seemed a bit odd to me at the time. (Of possible additional significance was that my girlfriend had an identical twin sister, who was married and lived in the area in quite a normal family lifestyle; but they did not have cats.)

Such events may be being played out all around the world; perhaps in different intensity, yet subtly influencing activities and decisions from the curious psychological properties of inhabitation by Toxoplasmosis.

Could such a tiny microscopic thing have a major impact on human life? Seems unlikely. Although we take for granted the days when we have other kinds of infestation such as downtime when having the flu. A huge percentage of the world has another kind of background infection, that of Mononucleosis, another example; we just live with it, after the initial feeling sick. So, we actually do have companionship with a wide variety of micro-creatures we host, each with their own special natures. And in the case of Toxoplasmosis, the psychological effect is not just of "feeling miserable" for awhile. Schiznophrenic activities even of tiny intensity could account for a lot of the things humans do around the world and at home.

And now the carefully documented case of a nursing home cat which uncannily knows when its residents are about to die and goes to curl up with them. Cats often do like to sleep in their owner's beds, of course. But that cat has lots of possible beds in which to sleep, but it chooses to go to the bed where the occupant is about to die.

Is Toxoplasmosis also playing a role in this scenario?

The trio seems to deserve some more inspection via scientific analysis (and maybe by the subjective experiences of people too): the cat, the T.gondii, and the humans. A zany triad love affair that has been busy for thousands of years, and still is.

Maybe we ought to make a more intelligent interactive effort with that which may be influencing us more than we would like to know.

(PS: Sometimes it is helpful to back aways off from something, so as to be able to see it more clearly. For those who experiment with electrical things, the microcurrent resonant frequency for the Toxoplasmosis parasite is 395,000 Hz, according to some research. JEDC)


"Scientists Find Stronger Evidence For Link Between Cat Faeces And Schizophrenia" Science Daily:

"A Brief History of House Cats" by David Zax, Smithsonian Magazine July 2007

"Grim Reap Purr: Nursing home feline senses the end" by Brian Vastag, Science News July 28, 2007, vol. 172, No 4, p.53

"Parasite deludes rats into liking cats" by Susan Milius, Science News, Week of Aug. 12, 2000; Vol. 158, No. 7 , p. 109,
from the Aug. 7 2000 Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences.

"Toxoplasmosis Linked to Schizophrenia Risk" Reuters Health

"Maternal exposure to parasitic infection may increase risk of schizophrenia in offspring, study" Medical News Today, 16 May 2005


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