STATES CHRONICLE – Did you notice that we tend to name women, who are cat owners, as “the crazy cat lady”? Well, it appears that the “crazy” part may not be that far from the truth. People, who have cats or live near them for a longer period, tend to be edgier and lose temper a lot easier than other people.
According to the latest research this unusual rage may be linked to a parasite found in cats, called toxoplasma gondii which is supposed to be behind IED (intermittent explosive disorder). This condition has symptoms such as angry, irrational outbursts, unjustifiable aggressiveness and road rage.
Although some people don’t really see this as a condition and think people with IED are simply unpleasant, the disorder is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The condition can be treated with therapy and medication, and it is more common than schizophrenia, and it affects about 16 million Americans.
The new study included 358 subjects who had IED or other mental disorders. The results showed that people with IED were twice as likely to have been exposed to t.gondii (the cat parasite) than the people with other disorders. The group of people, who were exposed to the parasite, were also more likely to be angry, impulsive or aggressive.
Being exposed to toxoplasma gondii can change the brain chemistry in a way that aggressive behavior could increase. However, there are people, who aren’t as affected by the parasite as others. In other words, not everyone is a crazy cat lady, so more research must be done in order to get to the bottom of things.
Cats are not the only animals infected by this parasite, although they are the number one host, as only there the parasite can sexually reproduce. The parasite can be found in any warm-blooded animal as well as in undercooked meat or contaminated soil or water.
When a human ingests the parasite, there is a risk that they might develop toxoplasmosis. Some of the symptoms that may appear are headaches, fever and muscle pain, and it can be treated with antibiotics as any other infection. Even if the symptoms go away, the parasite might remain in the human host in the brain tissue. This is how it eventually provokes IED.
With further research we should find how getting infected with this parasite can be avoided and how we can reduce aggressiveness, without getting rid of our cats.
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