back to article Common brain parasite 'can affect host's actions'

Boffins here in Blighty say that a brain parasite which is carried by up to 20 per cent of the population is capable of affecting its host's actions for its own benefit – but against the interests of the host. The parasite in question, Toxoplasma gondii, has now been found to "directly affect" the production of dopamine, a key …

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  1. dotdavid
    Unhappy

    Already infected

    "It's been known for some time that T gondii has a more serious effect on rats and mice, in which they lose their fear of cats or even become attracted to them"

    OMG I like cats and aren't scared of them.

  2. dogged

    more proof that cats are evil.

  3. Thomas 18
    Meh

    If dopamine makes you happy

    what's the problem? Except for the fact that your eating cat crap.

    1. Rosco

      Much more complex than that

      Dopamine doesn't simply "make you happy". It affects a very wide range of behaviours in really complex ways. For example, people who take dopamine supplements (for a variety of disorders) can end up being compulsive shoppers or gamblers. They get into huge amounts of debt because they can't control their spending (effectively, they get a big rush from buying something because the extra dopamine makes them feel great when it's triggered)

  4. Andrew Moore

    Let me get this straight....

    this is a possible cure for Parkinsons???

  5. I understand now
    Meh

    So that explains the existence of Cat people.

    How do I get this thing out of my head then?

  6. Falanx
    FAIL

    Just of fthe press, huh?

    Except that Robert Sapolsky and his whole lab have been making this known, this specific aspect, for over three years, and that Leeds and Oxford Unis have been talking about it for at least six...

    What are we, the Daily Mewl now?

  7. Richard Wharram
    Thumb Up

    Informed

    I now know not to eat cat shit. Thanks !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I can't stop laughing at your post

      Does that mean I've got this damn thing?

      1. Richard Wharram
  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ahhh...

    Finally, an explanation for why I like Pussy so much - its not even mine its my girlfriend's. I don't even complain when it plonks itself on the desk when I'm working.

    Sorry. Too much Kenneth Williams as a child.

    1. Captain TickTock

      Or...

      Are You Being Served?

    2. relpy
      Stop

      Don't joke about it

      I've seen this happen to many poor chaps. They snuggle up with some random feline, and then they go all strangely happy and you never see them again. Tragic really.

  9. rayofsunshine
    Happy

    Ah, it makes sense now

    So does this help to explain why so many people keep cats, a bargain in which these feline parasites exchange warmth, comfort and food for scratched furniture, bodily secretions and occasional vomited offerings of half-chewed nestlings or small mammals?

    Now to find the chihuahua parasite that infects continental women..

  10. Tchou
    Joke

    20% population controlled?

    I understand now (unwashed) Apple's cult.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And how it happens? Search for "typical mac user" on your image search-engine of choice.

      Yummy.

  11. theblackhand Silver badge
    Terminator

    Is it wise?

    Putting this information into electronic form where the machines can find and use it could be dangerous....

  12. FanMan

    OMG

    How do I check if I've got this. I remember terrifying biol lessons at school in the 60s and there were frequent illustrations of all sorts of flukes and whatnot from under cooked pork, no one fears that any more but brain parasites off veggies - aaarrrrggghhhhhhh!

    Mind you the incubus persuading a rat he needs to cuddle up to the nearest puddy tat well that's genius, quite comical really. They ought to bottle that urge and spread it through the rat population like they did to rabbits via Myxomatosis.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So this parasite causes

    too much dopamine, or too little dopamine? Because there's no shortage of cat poo where I live in the suburbs.

  14. J.G.Harston Silver badge
    Boffin

    20% of Britons own a cat. 20% of Britons carry the toxoplasmosis parasite. Hmmm....

  15. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Pint

    Not new, actually.

    I remember something like this from NewScientist back before Gulf War II.

    Too lazy to check and I no longer have a subscription....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    It wasn't me your honour...

    It was the T gondii..

    Cue jokes about correlations between

    - Cat & Apple/ Windows product ownership

    - Cat ownership & political leaning

    - Cat ownership & ...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is news?!

    It's been known about for years! There's a RadioLab podcast about it from like 2 years ago and it wasn't new then.

    As for the 'statistical link' with mental illness: cat people are ALL barking mad. Who keeps an animal that digs its paws in its poo then walks all over their kitchen work surfaces? And who keeps a tray of their animals' poo in their kitchen, anyway?

    Plus cats kill more birds than in a day than every wind farms do in a year.

    Disgusting beast: we should kill the lot of 'em.

    Me? A dog person? Never!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You, a dog person?

      Who would own an animal with the capacity to kill and whose faeces you have to scoop you behind him as he apparently has no sense of burying it as a cat does?

      The only people who whinge about cats are the garden-proud despite the fact there are far bigger threats to your begonias

      1. Graham Bartlett

        @AC

        "The only people who whinge about cats are the garden-proud"

        (I'll bite.)

        Or parents who would rather that their children didn't catch a parasite which can leave them blind or brain-damaged. And why is there something wrong with people being proud of their gardens?

        As far as I'm concerned, there's no difference between you letting your cat crap in my garden and you pushing crap through my letterbox or throwing it at my windows. The only difference is where in my home the crap ends up. (Yes, my definition of home includes the garden. Doesn't yours?)

      2. Steve Crook
        Stop

        Your animal has the capacity to kill

        My family always had cats as pets. Time went past and when I got somewhere of my own I decided I'd rather have birds in the garden. That was when I really began to appreciate that your average moggie likes a nice veggie patch for a shit. Or flowerpots or tubs or, in fact anywhere that's NOT on its territory.

        So, I don't have to be garden proud to object to getting cat shit on my hands when I'm gardening.

        People here aren't saying you can't keep a cat, just that you take responsibility for some of its less desirable habits. Saying that you can't help it, or that the cat is beyond your control is just you trying to find an excuse for your inadequacy.

  18. Mage Silver badge

    So that's what was in the Sludge

    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2011-10-31/

    Previously he was forced to drink the sludge at a press conference to prove it safe.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Veggies with cat poo on them???

    Or, getting cat poo on your hands while weeding or doing anything else in the garden. So it's not just dog faeces that are a threat to the health and well-being of the nation..

    In my experience, cat owners (and this includes my late mother) don't seem to mind if their pets shit in someone else's garden. Apparently it's in the cats nature (at least that's what mum always used to say). Personally, I fail to see any difference between this and dog owners that don't pick up their dogs shit. It just seems that in one case we rightly expect and require by law that dog owners take responsibility for their animals actions, whereas cat owners have no responsibility at all...

    1. br0die

      Agreed. It annoys me a little that cat owners are exempt from responsibility of their pets (this seems to be unique to this pet, as all other pets need to be accounted for by their owner). I used to have a lot of issues with cats fouling my garden. Other people (cat owners) response was usually along the lines of doing things to cat-proof my garden (put up a better fence, leave lion poo around, fill a bottle with water etc.) But why is it my prerogative to keep your pets out? Should it not be your responsibility to keep your pets away from my garden?

      I have a German Shepherd now, so cats in the garden are not such a problem anymore, but I do worry what the legal implications are if he kills or maims a cat in our own garden (he likes to play, only, his idea of playing can be a bit rough).

      1. Simon Neill

        Cats vs Dogs.

        Well, I'd imagine the difference in view is because of the difference in behaviour.

        Dogs shit where they stand and are taken for walks in public areas. This means that dog shit can (and usually is) all over public areas where others come to walk and play.

        Cats on the other hand aren't taken for walks and generally find a discrete spot to bury their business. I've never been walking down the street and stepped in cat shit.

        As for the whole garden thing, that is surely a problem with the owner not the animal.

        As for accountability of an animal - again, I'd imagine the view is that a cat is far less likely to injure or kill a human. I've heard of plenty of stories of dogs killing and injuring people, but other than the one story of a guy having a knife fight with his cat and somehow losing*, I can't recall of cats ever making the news in that way.

        *http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2011/05/killer_house_cat.php

      2. Mr Young
        Happy

        @br0die

        "I have a German Shepherd now" Good choice of dog - trained and dedicated sir! If he kills a cat in your garden, take a video and post it on Youtube! The cat would probably have been playing with a mouse until it has a heart attack or something! Anyway, keeps the cat shit oot the garden hopefully - dodgy stuff

      3. Flashy Red
        WTF?

        So your garden's now full of dog shit? Cats shitting in your garden is usually just them marking their turf, having identified the owner as inferior to them (I know, cats eh!!). But being pretty canny, they'll avoid the soppy German Shepherd for about 8 years until his hips are so shot from genetically acquired faults, and then they'll slowly torture it by shitting on their garden again. Little f***ers.

        1. scub
          Thumb Up

          The German Shepherd

          Just a quick note,

          If you can get yourself a German Shepherd/FlatCoat Retriever mognrel.

          You are onto a serious winner( So long as you have the retriever back end)

    2. James Le Cuirot
      Thumb Down

      You've obviously never owned a cat, have you.

      1. It wasnt me
        Thumb Up

        O.K. I'll bite.

        No, I have never owned a cat. But perhaps you can help me adjust my opinion of them.

        Go on, explain. All I need to know is: "Why is it my prerogative to spend money cat proofing my veggie patch? Why do I need to pay to keep someone elses cat shit away from my little girl's sand pit? Why are cats owners not subjected to the same responsibility laws as dog owners?"

        Please do explain without using the excuse that "its in their nature". This is not a valid argument as (1) Cats are not native to the UK. (2) Its in human nature to kill wild annimals for food, but the law prevents me from doing that to your cat.

        Article 1 of the UDHR needs rewriting to formalise the unwritten superiority of cat owners.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Holmes

          Cats are in charge.

          That's all.

          Most people know it ... but some have become infected by a strange virus that causes them to post bad stuff about cats on the internet. It is suspected that it is spread by dogs. Among other symptoms, are having no fear of the dog, even sniggling up to it...

        2. Ragarath
          FAIL

          Wow this is getting fun to read

          "(1) Cats are not native to the UK."

          Since when were you native to the UK? This is not where humans originated. If you just mean "I was born here" then I can assure you the cat probably was too and so by your definition is a native.

          "(2) Its in human nature to kill wild annimals for food, but the law prevents me from doing that to your cat."

          Wow just wow, I want to see you eat this cat after you have killed it as you seem to think you should be allowed to do. No, no cooking allowed, like you said its in our nature to kill, as it is in our nature just to eat the thing we just killed there and then you know like the cat does.

          I am going to take it on guess work here that you have never killed an animal to eat it in your life. TESCO or Morrisons maybe even ASDA perhaps.

          And yes I grew up with cats, like cats and I hate the little shits doing that in my garden too. I do not have any pets. Perhaps the parasites are making me say this?

        3. Rob Dobs
          Devil

          Not in US

          Not sure about UK, but where I live, both CATS and DOGS a legally required to not only be cleaned up after by their owner, but are also required to be ON A LEASH when out of the house.

          OK sure there are plenty of violators in my neighborhood, but the law is clearly against them.

          Should I ever have the time on my hands I could photo their cat being out of doors and pooping and simply submit the evidence to the local police to press charges... would work out to about $200-400 for both tickets in most states.

          Its also legally responsible to trap these "feral" cats and take them to the local pound to be euthanized. Cruel I'm sure, but if someone loved their pet I don't think they would let it outside to run around and get trapped by upset neighbors, fed garbage by local well intentioned kids, hurt by ill intentioned kids, or even just run over in the street. Granted the local pound will hold the animal for days to weeks depending on how crowded they currently are, but I'm sure your poop ignorant neighbors would bring their cat in, or stop picking it up after a few trips.

          And I am not a hater of Cats, I have had Cats in my own home for decades, and no they are not allowed outside, because I love my pets and don't want them dead. And they poop where they are supposed to, and then I clean it up and make sure to wash my hands afterwards. I don't blame the animals I blame their lame, lazy owners that think their shit should be picked up by someone else.

          Here's a suggestion for cats or dogs...start leaving the shit they leave behind on their owners doorstep...maybe they'll get the hint when it doesn't just go away on its own that you have to clean up after those animals that are in your care... If that doesn't work start smearing it on their door handle, car etc.. eventually they will learn

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Own a cat?

        No one owns a Cat. A Cat might think it owns you.

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Boffin

      Look in the mirror-

      Is there a brain slug on your head?

      (or won't it let you say yes?.... hmmm.)

    4. Andrew Moore

      There was that story about the snake that killed a cat that wandered into its garden. Lead to a huge outcry from the Cat Enthralled screaming how dare a snake attack a defenceless kitty.

    5. MrCheese
      FAIL

      Just how do you police that??

      You know cats have their own lives right? About the only way to control where they go to the toilet is to lock them in the house, and besides, cats don't tend to dump all over the pavements do they?

      If you think you can control where a cat goes to the loo, give it a try and get someone to film you, the footage should get you the £250 from You've Been Framed

      1. Steve Crook

        Nitwit.

        It is my dogs *instinct* to chase stuff. In the case of cats, rabbits and other smaller mammals, it would, in all probability kill them if it caught them. I am required by law to maintain control of my dog by NOT letting it out unless I have control of it.

        It is a common myth that cats find a place out of the way and bury their shit. Some do, the majority don't. Cats *can* be taken out for walks on a lead, I know, because I've seen people doing it. In that case you would have control of your cats arse. You might also prevent it from killing birds.

      2. br0die
        FAIL

        @MrCheese

        This does not change the fact it's not my job to police your pets. The excuse that "they have their own lives" does not hold. If it did, I could keep a pet elephant, and if it crushed your car I would use the same excuse, since he likes to walk around on his own and I can't keep it trapped in the house, poor thing.

        If *you* can't control your pet, *you* should not have one. You are not a special case because of your choice of pet.

    6. Asgard
      Facepalm

      City folk...

      I find it amusing (and at times some what dismaying) to read comments from some people who are very obviously out of touch with nature. They react with shock, dismay and even anger when they find poo in their garden. Yes animals do indeed crap on everything. Welcome to the real world, where Poo is part of the natural world! :)

      If they think its bad that cats, dogs (and yes don't forget foxes) crap in their gardens, then they should try living in the countryside, where you'll find every animal, big and small trying to crap all over everything around you! :) ... Even better they all try to out compete each other crapping on everything to say, to other animals, that's mine, that's mine. Maybe that's where we humans are all going wrong. Maybe we should be crapping on everything to mark it as ours! ;)

  20. Robert E A Harvey

    Oldish news, although the Dopamine mechanism may be newly quantified. Have a look at:

    Proc. R. Soc. B November 7, 2006 273:2749-2755 ; Kevin D Lafferty; "Can the common brain parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, influence human culture?" -

    "The latent prevalence of a long-lived and common brain parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, explains a statistically significant portion of the variance in aggregate neuroticism among populations, as well as in the ‘neurotic’ cultural dimensions of sex roles and uncertainty avoidance. "

    http://www.livescience.com/7019-mind-control-parasites.html

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2334/2/11 "The subjects with latent toxoplasmosis have significantly increased risk of traffic accidents than the noninfected subjects. "

    Jaroslav Flegr, of Prague, have shown that widespread infection is associated with changing the sex ration from 104:100 boys:girls to 260:100.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sex ration?

      > Jaroslav Flegr, of Prague, have shown that widespread infection is associated with changing the sex ration from 104:100 boys:girls to 260:100.

      I can assure you the staff did their best to make sure there was no sex ration when I was at school.

  21. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Vermin

    Yet another reason why it should be legal, no - scratch that - encouraged, to exterminate such vermin.

    It's OK for a "pet" cat to dig up, piss and shit wherever they feel like however it is not the same for a pet dog. Either let dogs roam free in a similar manner or all cats must have leashes and be kept solely on their owners property. Try arguing that with a typical blinkered cat attendant.

    1. scub
      Paris Hilton

      here, here

      I`m not a fan of cats either. I thinks it strange that ppl that own cats also put up birds tables. Maybe its the parasite at work...

    2. Martin
      WTF?

      Dogs roam free in the interests of equality, eh?

      So, when was the last time that a child was savaged to death by a cat?

      Look, if you don't like cats in your garden, use a hose. It's fun, and they learn quickly not to return.

      1. Flashy Red

        So easy

        Yes, I love cats and have one well trained cat myself. Nevertheless, I have had to take over from my now deceased Abyssinian who used to regularly beat the shit out my neighbour's feral torty. Spraying cats with a water squirter is kinda fun, too, and harmless. Try it. It seems to work.

    3. Flashy Red
      Thumb Down

      They do!

      Dogs are often allowed to roam off the leash in the enclosures of the New Forest, pissing and shitting up all the paths. Their owners take them there to avoid having to scoop up their dogs' mess. Really, really annoying. Probably doesn't do the ponies any good or the people who have to track the crap into their homes.

  22. Bert 1
    Paris Hilton

    So that's why

    some people keep cats!

    It's always puzzled me.

    Bet Paris knows what to do with cat.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well that explains my ex

    The crazy cat lady.

    1. br0die
      FAIL

      Moreover, it explains the expression/phenomenon "crazy cat lady", and why there is no "crazy [x] lady" for all other values of x.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Coat

        crazy [x] lady

        also works when [x] is blank...

  24. David Pollard

    Don't overlook research in the Czech Republic

    Some of the early work on the effects of toxoplasmosis on humans was done in the Czech Republic. This came up with the astounding discovery that infection correlates with an increased incidence of motor vehicle crashes.

    Here in a recent overview, although the author carefully notes that possible confounding factors are not ruled out, the data suggest that men infected with toxoplasmosis have a 2.65 times higher risk of traffic accidents.

    http://schizophreniabulletin.oxfordjournals.org/content/33/3/757.full

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      From spending quite a lot of time in the CR ...

      ... I'd say that there are an awful lot of T. gondii affected drivers there, then.* Strange in a country that seems to prefer dogs.

      * OK, the Czechs aren't as bad as the Belgians, but they are significantly worse than the Spanish or Portuguese (empirical evidence only, based on where I feel most at risk from car-pilots).

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alas

    >human illnesses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

    It appears the troll bait was too subtle.

    1. Captain TickTock
      Trollface

      or...

      the trolls weren't paying attention..?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems like old news?

  27. Buzzword
    WTF?

    Test and treatment?

    If one in five of us carries it, I'd like to get tested. Where and how? Is there an effective treatment for it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Buzzword

      Are you a cat lover?

      1. Buzzword

        Certainly not after reading this!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          But if you were it might already be too late.

  28. umacf24
    Happy

    This reminds me of the toxoplasma story from the Economist last year explaining that the French are mad because they eat cat shit (I paraphrase, you understand.) Some of my favourite science ever.

    http://www.economist.com/node/16271339 (Last para but one)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    cleaning up mess?

    I don't own a cat, or a dog for that matter... but I find the arguement of having to clean up after dogs but not cats interesting. I only think its necessary to clean up after you pet in public areas where people walk and children play, e.g. your local park, or the pavement outside your house - i don't think i've ever seen cat faeces in those areas, but the dog faeces is plentiful, not least around the kids playground near me. As for defecating in the undergrowth, well thats dogs, cats and every other creature on the planet.

    1. Smooth Newt
      Facepalm

      Mess in non-public spaces

      Children play in gardens too.

  30. william_7

    old news

    read in News Scientist (over 10 years ago?) a report on its link with car crash victims - indicating that responses were slowed(hence in part the cause for the crash).

  31. MartinSullivan

    Another interesting bug

    Something called Walbachia. It too alters behaviour, but in the parasite, usually to the ultimate detriment of the host. At the risk of Wikipedialisation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolbachia makes for an interesting Monday afternoon read. Procrastination is the friend of Biology, they say. And I never knew there were so many of us Biologists reading this site.

  32. moiety

    So 1 in 5 have it. It (allegedly) affects your behaviour. (I say allegedly because I haven't seen the proof, not because I'm worried about being sued by a brain-parasite; although frankly I don't want that either).

    Why is there not a cheap test? You never know, it might be important.

    1. Adam Foxton
      Joke

      Do you own a cat, or have any intention to ever own one?

      No? Then you're fine. :P

      Just wait until the mainstream papers get a hold of this- there'll be people using 'THE BRAAAAIN WOOOORMMS!' as a legal defence, 'Holistic Medicine' shops selling expensive water that fixes or neutralises the parasite, etc.

    2. Turtle_Fan

      T gondii test

      There is a test for this and all it's extended family and they're done via a standard blood test albeit with special reactive agents to identify it.

      It's not too cheap but it is certainly trivial.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Effective stuff

      All of you must be infected. The article said that 10 % or Brits suffer from it; or perhaps you are all Americans.

      Curious difference in infection rates. Wonder about other countries in Europe and Australasia.

  33. cosmodrome

    All Glory to the Brain Parasites

    All glory to the brain parasites!

  34. Spoonsinger
    Facepalm

    Failry sure...

    Radio 4 had a program on parasites about eight years ago with this as one of the examples of them reprogramming the host. Is the Reg going all Daily Mail on a slow news day?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eating Pussy is Bad Then?

    Eating Pussy is Bad Then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eating meat is

      (where's the sausage icon?)

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1118145/

  36. Paul RND*1000
    Joke

    "capable of affecting its host's actions for its own benefit – but against the interests of the host"

    So, just like politicians, bank executives and extraordinarily fat and wealthy AM radio talk show hosts, all of whom I would happily describe as parasites.

  37. Mike Moyle Silver badge
    Coat

    Coincident research...

    Should we put these people in touch with the Florida Institute of Technology people that studied internet trolling behavior...? (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/06/eggheads_peer_into_trolls/)

    It might explain the number of shitheads online.

  38. Chris Seiter
    Joke

    We have three cats in a house of four people. If it's not the parasite telling me what to do then it's the ring on my finger. Although, sometimes they feel interchangable.

  39. Stan Smith
    Mushroom

    Oh. My. God. This also explains the vegan epidemic! Cat-loving vegetarians threaten our very way of life!!!

  40. ZenCoder

    No evidence just speculation.

    Since it effects the behavior of mice, there is constant speculation that it can affect the behavior of humans, however no one has actually been able to provide any evidence.

    This study shows that it affects the brain chemistry of mice, They didn't even study any potential effects on human.

    So basically they are just guessing.

  41. This is my handle

    Well, we've got one of each ....

    ... and a parakeet to boot; it keeps the kids happy.

    But when I walk the dog, I pick up after her. The cat is a house cat. In fact, her lack of front claws (yes, I know, how cruel!) kind of requires that we keep her in for her own safety.

    I would no more let her crap in the neighbor's garden then I'd let my dog allow one in to crap in ours. As to why anyone would keep a cat (who showed up before the other two) I can only speak for us but I'll give two reasons: 1) She needed a home (feral kitten), and 2) We have a fair number of mice in the yard. AFAIK, the difference between a field mouse and a house mouse is strictly a matter of residence. Oh and field mouse: cute; house mouse: not so cute. The mice haven't been clued in about the cat's lack of claws of course, her litter box smells the same.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the exile

    Do you read the War Nerd much Lewis? I seem to remember Ames posting a similar article a couple of weeks ago.

  43. Stuart Duel
    Mushroom

    As the saying goes...

    The only good cat is a dead cat.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      If ...

      ... someone substituted "Stuart Duel" for "cat", you wouldn't like it, would you?

      Killing things is rarely the answer.

  44. ratfox Silver badge
    Alien

    Brain-infected cat worshippers?

    That'll be the Goa'uld then...

  45. steeplejack

    What a life.

    I can haz toxoplasma. mmm nice.

    Rats! Aargh! Get away from me!

  46. shawnfromnh

    So easily this could happen

    I don't have cat's since a friend wised me up.

    Cat uses litter box and walks all through it.

    Cat walks all over the house including the kitchen counter when no one is looking.

    Counter is covered in all kinds of nasty stuff that is to small to see.

    This is why I have made my meals on a paper plate instead of directly on the counter since I had a roommate that had 2 cats that would not stay off the counter.

    1. Simon Neill

      Eugh.

      See, there is an issue here that cats are just like dogs in one respect - they need training.

      Naturally a cat will scratch the sofa, it will walk anywhere it can. The solution is train them not to. Its not hard. Positive reinforcement for good behaviour, mild negative reinforcement for bad behaviour. All it took for us to train our cat not to scratch the sofa was to grab her every time she looked like she was going for the sofa and move her away from it. 2 days later she stopped even going for the sofa. Job done.

      Same with the kitchen counters. Any time she looked too interested in the counters or like she was going to jump up on the counters or the dinner table, just grab her and move her away. She learned quickly and never walked on the counters.

      The problem here is NOT the pet, its the owner. A little bit of cat shit in your flower bed is not going to do any harm, its already full of mole shit, fox shit, bird shit, worm shit, spider shit, beetle shit and all the rest.

      As for who's responsibility it is to keep a cat out of a garden, that is a tough one. I am not digging up your flower beds to retrieve my cat's shit. You probably don't want me in your garden digging up your flower beds. There are plenty of animals that will come in and dig up/shit in a garden. If you have a problem with that, then yes you need to do something about it. As for the owner stopping a cat going to the toilet somewhere, that can be done. Rather the other way round. You train the cat where to go to the toilet, I've seen people train their cat to actually use a toilet.

      TLDR version:

      If a cat is doing something it shouldn't, your problem is not the species its the owner. If someone didn't train their dog to stay you wouldn't blame the dog.

      1. Scorchio!!

        Re: Eugh.

        Not to be over picky, but negative reinforcement = removal of an aversive stimulus to increase a desired behaviour.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just sounds to me like...

    ...another attempt to attack home food growers and "self-sufficients". There's no other reason to raise this (very old) link between cat parasites and Dopamine. The only new spin in this story is claiming that it comes from cat poo on vegetables - patently ridiculous!

  48. Scorchio!!

    Optional

    It also causes blindness, particularly in children where they play on public recreational facilities, where animals unsurprisingly defecate frequently. Other things that correlate very well with schizophrenia are a small but significant excess of winter births, cytomegalovirus antibody titres and of course the genetic component. There is an interesting line of research into the stronger forms of cannabis which, especially when accompanied by alcohol, seem to have a strong relationship with the illness. However it has to be remembered that the role of 5-HT in the genesis of hallucinations is important, and that is why the Dopaminergic hypothesis of schizophrenia is lacking, because DA does not of itself cause hallucinations.

    It's interesting that Parkinsonism is preceded (in statistically very significant numbers) by tobacco aversion in early life, and the 'why' is probably complex; Yong and Perry found that hydrazines - a by product/metabolite of tobacco consumption - insulate nerve tissue and prevent free radicals from destroying it; free rads are implicated in the destruction of the appropriate basal ganglia (substantia nigra, e.g.) thus causing Parkinsonism. Free rads are commonly found in such things as naturally occurring pyridines, such as 4-phenylpyridine which is found in peppermint or spearmint tea, and follow from metabolising weed killers such as cyperquat and paraquat (probably now banned) containing substances resembling 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydopyridine (MPTP, which metabolises to MPDP+ and then MPP+, which then releases H+,H2O2, superoxide), which causes a form of Parkinsonism. Pre-treatment of nigro-striatal neurones protects them from the free rads released by MPTP.

    It will probably not have escaped the reader's attention that hydrazines appear to somehow stimulate, potentiate or otherwise accelerate hyperkinetic behaviours, even in so called 'normal' kids.

    Most authors feel it's multifactorial. Indeed, the overlap between PD and childhood disorders involving hyperkinesis and cognitive disorders shows something fascinating; whereas the motor components of the basal ganglia in these children are overactive and in the adults are underactive, cognitive areas of the brain in both instances are hypoactive, a condition which responds to Dopamine precursors and stimulants which cause the Dopaminergic sub system to become more active. Yes, you've guessed it correctly, the D-amphetamines speed up cognition in both categories of individual. Interestingly the Dopamine precursor L-DOPA used to treat Parkinsonism can precipitate psychotic behaviour, and patients are frequently put on 'drugs holidays'; similarly, anti psychotic medications have been dogged by a history of Parkinsonian 'side effects' (there is no such thing, only effects) but drugs holidays are not the strategy of choice; a change of drug, particularly for the newer ones which, one by one, each demonstrate problems of their own or even Parkinsonian type effects ('tardive dyskinesia').

    Take nothing for granted; consuming drugs can be bad for your health, as can the chemicals we put into the environment, and alcohol destroys large areas of brain and causes memory loss to the point where new memories disappear within minutes of being formed. GIGO.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Explains my inability to take proper care of myself

    Perhaps this explains why I spend all day on my PC rather than eating properly and getting exercise and socialising, which would be better for me.

    It's this damn parasite releasing dopamine when I use my PC ;)

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