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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Today in Cats

posted by on April 3 at 11:11 AM

Science! “The parasite Toxoplasma gondii uses a remarkable trick to spread from rodents to cats: It alters the brains of infected rats and mice so that they become attracted to—rather than repelled by—the scent of their predators… The parasite can only sexually reproduce in the feline gut, so it’s advantageous for it to get from a rodent into a cat—if necessary, by helping the latter eat the former.” Roughly half of the world’s human population is also infected with Toxoplasma gondii.

Religion! Cat Stevens (née Steven Demetre Georgiou, now known as Yusuf Islam who, in 2000, recorded a children’s album called A Is for Allah) insists that this story (about him refusing to speak to any women who aren’t veiled) is “baseless” and “stupid.”

Weirdness! High on the smokin’ success of My Name Is Rachel Corrie, the Seattle Rep has just announced its latest theatrical coup:

The Moscow Cats Theatre

I know. They’re coming in June. Wanna see a slightly disturbing video of the MCT? I thought so:

The guy in the chef’s hat is Yuri. He started his cat circus 10 years ago. And now (according to this video interview) owns 120 cats.

From the MCT’s press release:

We glorify them and that’s why we provide the cats with a traveling entourage including a vet, kitty caretaker and personal stylist to tend to the needs of our feline superstars. The cast includes 35 cats, 1 dog, and 5 clowns.
The Theatre and its famous felines are available for interviews. Please contact Dmitri Krassotkine at (602) XXX-XXXX.

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Adding to the fun about toxo:

There is some evidence that toxo-infected humans -- we're play the rat's role in the parasite lifecycle --also have changes in personality. Men become more aggressive and women more promiscuous.

Posted by golob | April 3, 2007 11:40 AM

For more kitty fun go here...

Posted by monkey | April 3, 2007 11:49 AM

Where is the evidence Golob? I don't doubt it, but my cousin does brain research sometimes involving Feline domesticus Unfortunately her snobbishness prevents me learning much from her.

Posted by daniel | April 3, 2007 11:59 AM

There are a handful of peer-reviewed papers on the subject.

Here is an excerpt from an article on the subject:

"Consistent and significant differences in Cattell's personality factors were found between Toxoplasma-infected and -uninfected subjects in 9 of 11 studies, and these differences were not the same for men and women. After using the Bonferroni correction for multiple tests, the personality of infected men showed lower superego strength (rule consciousness) and higher vigilance (factors G and L on Cattell's 16PF). Thus, the men were more likely to disregard rules and were more expedient, suspicious, jealous, and dogmatic. The personality of infected women, by contrast, showed higher warmth and higher superego strength (factors A and G on Cattell's 16PF), suggesting that they were more warm hearted, outgoing, conscientious, persistent, and moralistic. Both men and women had significantly higher apprehension (factor O) compared with the uninfected controls."


"...the observed low level of novelty seeking in humans infected with Toxoplasma or cytomegalovirus is supposedly associated with high dopamine levels in the ventral midbrain...

The dopamine imbalance between the mesolimbic and mesocortical regions in the brain is suspected to play a role in the development of schizophrenia which could explain the observed association between schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis ...

It is also possible that differences in the level of testosterone may be responsible for the observed behavioral differences between Toxoplasma-infected and Toxoplasma-free subjects."

Posted by golob | April 3, 2007 12:40 PM

THE MOSCOW CAT CIRCUS IS AMAZING! If you search for it in Nexis you can probably find the NYT article from last year about it. I will totally be going.

Posted by Ari Spool | April 3, 2007 1:22 PM

Cool, thanks golob. I appreciate it; nice having a hard copy, so to speak. My cousin just gets so coy at times since she knows the lingo pretty well. It's hard to believe some of the bizarre 'facts' she professes.

Posted by daniel | April 3, 2007 3:09 PM

My pleasure daniel...

and Monkey, I love the link!

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