And now, from the What Will They Blame On Cats Next department, comes this news: Cats cause road rage. I can think of a couple of reasons why cats would infuriate their people. Not using the litter box comes to mind. But the scientists who came up with the road rage theory would say it’s using the litter box, not failing to use it, that could cause sudden angry outbursts and road rage.
Blame It On Toxoplasmosis
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, researchers from the University of Chicago looked at 358 people and found that those who had been exposed to the parasite Toxoplasma gondii showed impulsive anger twice as much as those who hadn’t been exposed.
The researchers, led by University of Chicago professor Emil F. Coccaro, MD, were hoping to pioneer in the diagnosis and management of Intermittent Explosive Disorder, which can show itself as road rage and is believed to affect about 16 million people in the United States.
“Our work suggests that latent infection with the toxoplasma gondii parasite may change brain chemistry in a fashion that increases the risk of aggressive behavior,” Coccaro said in a statement about the study. “However, we do not know if this relationship is causal, and not everyone that tests positive for toxoplasmosis will have aggression issues.”
The Truth About How Cats Cause Road Rage
Cats can ingest the toxoplasma gondii parasite by eating infected rodents. They then shed the oocysts (eggs) in their feces. An infected cat will shed the eggs for just two weeks or less. And according to the International Cat Care website, it’s rare for cats to shed more oocysts after their first infection.
But it’s also “rare to find cats shedding oocysts in their feces” at all, the website continues. “For example, one study of more than 206 cats showed nearly 25 percent had been infected with T gondii, but none of them were shedding oocysts in their feces.”
Prevention Is Just A Scoop Away
Speak Out For Cats
Coccaro’s study got lots of attention online. And all the headlines just had to say something about cats causing road rage. Since I live with cats, drive a lot and have had a few moments of road rage myself, they certainly got my attention.
But reporting like this is damaging to cats. It just fuels the myths that make people dislike and mistrust them. So I commented on every article, and I hope you’ll do the same if you come across one.
We need to speak out on behalf of our feline friends and family members to keep cruel myths from becoming what people mistakenly believe are facts.