Domestic cats have been getting bad press lately for as one of the world’s top invasive species. Now, thanks to evolutionary biologist Jaroslav Flegr — whom National Geographic dubbed a ‘cat detective — we know they can make us all a bit cuckoo too. The guy discovered that the toxoplasma gondii parasite that’s pervasive in cats can infect not only rats, but humans.
He’s been there: ‘I thought it might explain some of my strange behaviors—ones that are nonadaptive for me but adaptive for a parasite that needs to get to a new host… in humans, we found that it greatly slows reaction time, which can influence the risk of a traffic accident. Infected people also tend to be less conscientious. And our male subjects considered the scent of cat urine to be quite pleasurable.’ Uh oh. Consider yourself warned.