You walk into a cat house and you know it right away: A crazy person lives here. No amount of vacuuming, air-freshening, laundering, or outright bleaching will banish the insidious juniper reek of feline; a cat house smells like a cat house, and for this we can be grateful, because it lets us know not to go there.
Many people like cats. Their cat makes a gesture of ambiguous, inexpressive quasi-affection toward them, and they think, “This fuzzy little creature’s love is adorable and affirming, I just can’t get enough of it, gimme gimme gimme more of that sweet cat lovin’.” (Paraphrasing.) Then their cat treats them with indifference bordering on outright malice the other 99.9 percent of the time, and they think, “This fuzzy little creature’s cold disinterest and occasional predatory hostility are adorable and affirming, I just can’t get enough of them, gimme gimme gimme more of those sweet cat claw-scars on my wrists and ankles.” (Paraphrasing.)
These would seem to be contradictory viewpoints: I love that my cat loves me, and I love that my cat wishes I were small enough to disembowel and devour. Except that, actually, they are the same viewpoint, expressed two different ways: I have toxoplasma gondii parasites in my brain.
Here is the cat controlling the brain of our Executive Editor, Tommy Craggs. Photo via Getty.
You may already be familiar with toxoplasma gondii. It is a parasite that reproduces in the intestines of cats, and colonizes other species through contact with cat shit. It facilitates its return to feline hosts (for reproduction) by rewiring the brains of non-feline animals to make them more attracted to cats. For example, rats that have not been exposed to toxoplasma gondii retreat, smartly, from the odor of cats and cat urine; rats that have been exposed to toxoplasma gondii, on the other hand, seek out the odor of cats, show no fear of cats themselves ... and thus are devoured by cats, enabling their parasite masters to return to the hot DayGlo sex-lounge in the cat’s gut.
Rats do not have intellect. They do not dream up elaborate rationalizations for their dumb behavior. A rat that has protozoan parasites in its brain, telling it to go find some cat piss, simply goes infinitely in the direction of the scent of cat piss until its search is cut short by the source of the scent of cat piss: A cat. And then the rat does not have feelings about what it has found, because it is a rat, and also because, cats being after all very highly evolved predators of small rodents, there is no time to feel things.
Pictured: Evil. Photo via Shutterstock.
Humans, on the other hand, have intellect. When a human feels a basic chemical impulse (HUNGER HUNGER HUNGER), it forms a thought (“Whoa, I am hungrier than shit”). And when it satisfies that chemical impulse (with, say, a taco), it forms a thought about the thing that has fulfilled this impulse (“Damn, I love tacos”). This is the mechanism via which the toxoplasma gondii parasite insidiously builds the lie of “cat love.” A strong, healthy, grown human can never get close enough to a cat for the cat to fulfill the parasite’s desire to return to Cat Land (that is to say, cats only ever kill babies and the infirm); instead, the infected host is left to pursue closeness with cats, to no discernible end, forever and ever, and so constructs rationalizations for this: “I love cats”; “cats are good”; “it is good when my cat likes me”; “also it is good when my cat hates me”; “basically it is good no matter what my cat does”; “secretly, I wish my cat would eat my brain for some reason I cannot quite put my finger on.”
Consider the following case study: The staff of Deadspin discussed cats in its staff chatroom, recently. A certain staffer made the logically airtight argument that cats are bad. One of Deadspin’s cat persons, Barry Petchesky, retorted to the effect that cats only seem bad to people who do not have cats; that you have to expose yourself to cats in order to understand their hidden wonderfulness. “Cats are faith-based pets,” he said.
This is not cute. It is terrifying. Photo via Shutterstock.
Do you see? Do you see the insidious creep of poisoned cognition? Yes, of course you have to expose yourself to cats in order to like them: So that their resident brain parasites can rewire your brain to make you like cats. Leaving aside his love of cats and hockey, Mr. Petchesky is a sharp-minded fellow; this gap in his reasoning demonstrates both the depth of his infestation and the damnable evil of this pro-cat protozoan.