Are cats controlling our behaviour? Is the internet becoming a tool for cats? Why do so many smart, intelligent people feel compelled to post pictures of their cats. What’s with this new LoL Cat craze? I seek to uncover the truth.

This story in Atlantic.com proves it refuses to die – Cats and their parasites do infect our brains.

But if Flegr is right, the “latent” parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents. And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.”

… he used a computer-based test to assess the reaction times of participants, who were instructed to press a button as soon as a white square popped up anywhere against the dark background of the monitor….  The subjects who tested positive for the parasite had significantly delayed reaction times

protozoan appeared to cause many sex-specific changes in personality. Compared with uninfected men, males who had the parasite were more introverted, suspicious, oblivious to other people’s opinions of them, and inclined to disregard rules. Infected women, on the other hand, presented in exactly the opposite way: they were more outgoing, trusting, image-conscious, and rule-abiding than uninfected women.  (italics mine)

So what can we do?

 Indoor cats pose no threat, he says, because they don’t carry the parasite. As for outdoor cats, they shed the parasite for only three weeks of their life, typically when they’re young and have just begun hunting. During that brief period, Flegr simply recommends taking care to keep kitchen counters and tables wiped clean.


Tara McGinley on Dangerous Minds blog has stumbled upon an association of cats and fungi. Perhaps it’s a reflection of the association between the mind control of cats and the mind control actions of fungi? An association subconsciously  brought out by the photographers?

Here are a couple of the pictures:

From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11580990


The manipulation hypothesis states a parasite may alter host behaviour for its own benefit, often by enhancing its transmission rate through the food chain. This paper reviews studies on the potential impact of one parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, on host behaviour, both on rodents, where altered responses may be proposed to benefit the parasite, and humans, where altered responses may arise as a side-effect of infection with no current adaptive significance.

I think that whilst, “cats no longer eat humans” – tigers and lions are still cats. Domestication would both help the parasite, lead humans to be less afraid of cats. Also, whilst from the point of view of the parasite, infection of humans have no obvious evolutionary benefit to the parasite – it would in the context of domestication – it increases the chance of the cat surviving.

A side effect of this would be the phenomena of cats on the internet.

#nocats day is here!

Failure to resist posting pictures of cats on this day, 9/9/09 No Cats on the Internet day indicates that your brain has a parasite in it (infected by the cat), and it’s controlling your brain.

Urlesque lists all the sites that are not infected! There’s hope for the human race yet!

9th of September is the day of No Cats on the Internet. Urlesque is leading the call.

What i hope will lead people to look at how they view internet felines, and their control over our brains and behaviour. Let’s see just what effect it will have on society. Are you brave enough to go a day with no kitties on the web?

Cats rule the internet. Think about all the funny cat photos and videos that infest your IM conversations, Facebook walls and e-mail forwards from mom — our feline overlords have sneakily solidified themselves as a staple of the interweb humor we love so dearly. … Urlesque is organizing a web-wide ban on cat-related coverage on 9.9.09A Day Without Cats on the Internet. Why only one day? Well let’s be honest, that’s probably only as long as we’ll last before a hilarious video comes crashing into our inbox. But for one day, we will abstain… for you… for the cats.

Video Link http://video.aol.com/aolvideo/Urlesque/no-cats/36566401001

Want to commit to it? Sign up to the petition!

found via neatorama

The BBC reports that “Cats exploit humans by purring” and that they can modulate their purring so that it pulls on our strings.

“Solicitation purring is probably more acceptable to humans than overt meowing”.

Basically they change the purr to sound like a baby.

Cats have a vocal way of manipulating their owners into doing their bidding, according to a study.

Karen McComb, a researcher from the University of Sussex, was inspired by her own cat, Pepo, who continually woke her up in the mornings with an “insistent and rather annoying” purr that reliably motivated her to get up and feed him.

Unlike regular, low frequency purring, further study revealed that this “solicitation purr” contained an embedded sound with a similar frequency to a baby’s cry; a sound that humans have an inherent bias to respond to.

She and her colleagues played recordings of these purrs to human volunteers, who found them to be “more urgent and harder to ignore” than regular purring.

Video: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8148192.stm and There’s even a video of it on the SciNewsBlog.