Over the past few years cats have taken over the internet. They are all over the place, from memes to the Facebook accounts of middle-aged women. What is the reason that we are all obsessed with these furry little things?
As a loyal cat person myself I decided to look deeper into this issue. The answer is mildly disturbing.
Let’s start with the least disturbing part. Cats physically have round faces with big eyes, this attracts us because it reminds us of human babies. Additionally as many of us have already heard, cats do not usually meow to other cats. They make these noises for attention or food, but here’s the weird part, the noises that they make are supposed to mimic a human baby as well. Creepy. Over the years cats have learned how to make us listen and adapted noises that work the best.
Now, let’s look at some history. Where did cats even come from? The truth is that we can never know exactly when or how they came to be our pets but what scientists suspect is that they domesticated themselves. Most domestic cats originated from wildcats in Egypt then spread from there. They then realized that if they hung around humans and maybe ate a few rats that the humans would feed them scraps. They then adapted to stay with humans as a way to be fed and sheltered and basically never stopped.
Compared to dogs who are almost always bred purposefully, most cats are the product of strays. This tells us that, even today, cats are not being bred with specific traits but rather randomly. For this reason and because we never truly tried to domesticate cats they are much less domesticated than men’s best friend. This lack of domestication may be what makes them so interesting to us.
Alright, let’s get into it. Scientist have found a parasite that cats may be giving us that makes us like them more. Yes, you read that right. This parasite, called Toxoplasma Gondii or T. Gondii for short is the same reason that pregnant women stay away from the litter box. If this theory is correct then this parasite is subtly changing how we feel fear, trust and even how outgoing we are. The worst part is that about a third of all people in the world have this parasite. Studies on rats, animals that would normally have an aversion to cats, showed that the rats with T. Gondii were no longer afraid on cats and some were even more interested in cats. Luckily, the parasite can be avoided by washing your hands often and avoiding unfiltered water.
Now that you know their secret, be careful, who knows what these cats are up to.