And I thought I was the only one with a cat feces problem!

OMG! Cute kitten! LOL!: I r poisnin ur brain!
OMG! Cute kitten! LOL!: I r poisnin ur brain!Courtesy manitoon
I was wrong!

You know, I spend so much time being right, that the occasional (very, very occasional) situation in which I’m slightly…not right, is actually pretty refreshing. It’s like, oh, I don’t know, getting halfway to work and realizing that you forgot to put on pants, and then linking, “Hey, who cares? And it’s a warm day!” It’s liberating.

Some days I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by cat feces. I don’t even live with a cat at the moment, but I’m aware that there are millions of cats out there, and they’re all addicted to pooping (just try forcing a cat to go cold turkey—total junkies for the litter box). There’s just so much cat poop in the world, and none of it smells very good, and I don’t want to touch any of it, and its very existence drives me to distraction.

Nobody else seems to care very much. Here I am, dreaming of cats that emit water vapor and rose-scented hydrogen gas as their only waste products, and the rest of the world seems content to live with a planet suffocating under the weight and odor of cat effluvia. I imagine that Leonardo felt the same way. It’s a lonely existence.

Perhaps no longer.

Toxoplasmosis gondii is an interesting little gooball (gooball is a term of my own, so don’t use it in class, or you’ll get an F and I’ll sue you). It’s a protozoan parasite, capable of living in nearly any warm-blooded mammal (it’s estimated that over 20% of the U.S. population carries the parasite), although its infectious form—responsible for about a third of all deaths from food borne illnesses—is only carried by cats.

The parasite has some interesting tricks up its sleeves too. It seems that when a rodent is infected with T. gondii, it loses its fear of cats. And a little mousey with no fear of cats is a little mousey that gets eaten, successfully passing the parasite back to its favorite host. Weird.

I also have very little fear of cats, which led me initially to believe that I was a carrier of the disease. But a study covered in this article details a whole different set of symptoms in infected humans (of which, again, there are many). Men who are infected “have lower IQs, achieve a lower level of education and have shorter attention spans. They are also more likely to break rules and take risks, be more independent, more anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose, and are deemed less attractive to women” An unsettling portion of this description applies to me, and so it’s possible that I may still be infected.

Infected women, on the other hand, are generally “more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected controls.” So, you know, it turns out that kittens are a good gift item after all.

And if that isn’t enough to get people thinking about cat feces, it turns out that some of human’s favorite animals, aquatic mammals, are just swimming in toxoplasmosis. How do you like that? The appearance of the parasite in marine mammal populations (including whales, dolphins, otters, sea lions, and seals) seems to be relatively recent, but it is estimated that up to 17% of sea otter deaths alone could be attributed to toxoplasma.

So how are sea creatures across the world becoming “infected by a parasite that is spread primarily through the consumption of infectious cat feces and infected meat”?

(That quote, by the way, comes from a microbiology researcher from Boston, and, if you remove “and infected meat,” is the winner of the best quote of the day award.)

Anchovies. Probably anchovies. The little fish are filter feeders, and could pick up the parasite before beginning extensive migrations, spreading the disease to the many anchovy eaters of the oceans (people who eat anchovies are safe, because heat kills the protozoa). Just how the organism is getting to the anchovies remains unclear, but it has been proposed that the problem has to do with cat feces-contaminated runoff.

So there. Like sea otters and dolphins? Then start thinking about cat feces. I don’t propose that you do anything about it, but I do want you to obsess over it. You won’t be alone.

Also, especially if you’re a guy, keep that stuff out of your mouth.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Thor's picture
Thor says:

Further proof that we need to eradicate the world of cats and anchovy pizzas!!!!

posted on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 1:12pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

my mom is allergic to cats!

posted on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 7:24pm
Andy Korman's picture
Andy Korman says:

cats are cool creatures and i agree with the fact that they do go to the bathroom anywhere they want but hey we took the land from them so they have the right to do that!!

posted on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 6:38pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Now, this was posted yesterday, but I only read it this morning--does it still count as my favorite comment of today?

posted on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 8:55am
bert123's picture
bert123 says:

I am going to have to agree that cats do poop way too much they are like a machine. now that i know that only cats carry that parasite i think that it is a good thing that i dont have one.
IBI Call it what you want IBI

posted on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 8:53am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i love kits

posted on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 1:10pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Proving once again that a dog is man's best friend! Go snoopy!

posted on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 2:55pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Wow! I didn't know the diseses were so bad!

posted on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 3:40pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Kittys are really cute.

posted on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 9:08am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

my cats don't go to the bathroom everywhere...

posted on Sun, 06/22/2008 - 3:08pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i agree with thor about the pizza but NOT NOT NOT the cats

posted on Fri, 06/27/2008 - 10:41am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i cant a normal cat that u would have for years carier diseases

posted on Fri, 06/27/2008 - 11:07am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I LOvE KIttiES All TYpe Of THem liOns tIgeRS lIgerS cheetahs BoBcatS lyNxs well manY mOrE Too.....
MIss DawN [B]

posted on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 11:35am
miss's picture
miss says:

What a pity, house cats sometimes have to get fixed so they can't have babies. it's sooo expensive. i have the money. should i fix my tabby? she's young and she moans and acts weird you know. do i still have to bring her to the vet to get fixed?

posted on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 12:23pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

You've come to the right forum. Yes, get her fixed—it should stop some of the moaning—and no, you don't have to bring her to the vet to do it. You can do it at home.

What you'll need:
a cat (yours)
a tarp (large)
a knife (the sharper the better)
one bottle of vodka (for the surgeon and surgical implements)
one bottle of blackberry brandy (for the cat)
a flashlight

Just dig in, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Who says you need a professional for this sort of thing?

posted on Wed, 07/02/2008 - 8:04am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Good thing to know. I never wanted to try anchovies anyway. Go cats!

posted on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 3:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

my sister is allergic to cats & kittens.

posted on Wed, 07/02/2008 - 3:44pm
Julie Curley nsp's picture
Julie Curley nsp says:

my brothers love cats. angie, my twin adores little kitties. my parents also love animals, especially kittens. Sarah, my younger sister wants to help cats and be a vetenarian when she is older.

posted on Wed, 07/02/2008 - 6:53pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Watch them all carefully for symptoms of toxoplasmosis infection, especially Angie; if you stay away from cats, you may be an excellent control subject.

posted on Thu, 07/03/2008 - 10:11am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My mother is allergic to what a though!

posted on Wed, 07/02/2008 - 7:47pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

OMG! No wonder my kitty made me so sick. My parrots had a hard time breathing too. Wonder if bird poop made the cat sick? My parrots like to poop on my cat


posted on Sat, 07/05/2008 - 10:29am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

It is a really cute kitten but what do you mean by poison your brain?

posted on Sat, 07/05/2008 - 3:47pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Not much. If you go to the original post (there's a link by the picture), though, you'll find some information about Toxoplasmosis gondii a bacteria that can be contracted from contact with cat poop. It doesn't do much to you if you're already healthy, but there's some thought that it may affect your behavior.

posted on Mon, 07/07/2008 - 8:21am
Gina's picture
Gina says:

this is why we don't have cats
and theres a reason why there is a saying of "a dog is mans best friend."
i personally like dogs better! but cats are cool to...

posted on Fri, 07/11/2008 - 12:21pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

the kitty can scratch and eat and poop

posted on Fri, 07/11/2008 - 1:08pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hi my name is alex vancouver, and i want to say why would the kitty scratch and eat poop? it's very bizzare!!

posted on Fri, 07/11/2008 - 2:06pm

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