Irresponsible Online Newspapers Harmful To Cat

The continued stories in online newspapers about the Toxoplasma gondii parasite and how it can infect people and travel to the brain is harmful to the image of domestic cats. The problem is that the whole thing is being exaggerated and misrepresented. They keep chewing on the same thing, putting a new spin on it and omitting to mention important medical aspects of the disease toxoplasmosis.

I’ll briefly describe the four main facts regarding this parasite and then refer to a couple of recent reports in the press to show you how people who dislike cats are using it to damage the reputation of the cat.

Lying Newspapers

The Facts

  1. Cats become infected by eating infected birds, rodents, raw or undercooked pork, beef, mutton and unpasteurised dairy products all of which can contain the toxoplasma organisms.
  2. People can become infected by eating raw or undercooked pork, beef, mutton and unpasteurised dairy products all of which can contain the toxoplasma organisms.
  3. The feces of infected cats contain Toxoplasma gondii oocysts that can infect people by being in direct contact with it.
  4. “The majority of human cases – by a wide margin – come from eating raw or undercooked meat, particularly lamb or pork” – Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook.

To recap most people get the infection because of what they do in relation to what they eat. This page expands on the above.

The Distorted Facts

Yet, this is almost completely ignored by Tory Shephard in his (her?) article: Cat poo contains a common bug that may be controlling your mind in The Australian.

Tory kicks off by saying

“Are you a cat person? Maybe it’s time to consider getting a dog. A parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, hangs out in cat poo and can easily infect humans – in fact up to half of us may already be infected with it”

Well it can’t “easily infect humans” and by far the biggest reason why half of us may be infected is because we eat food that we have prepared inadequately. It is nothing to do with cats.

This author goes on to say the parasite can make a person mad or behave strangely. He is more or less saying that your cat can make you mad. This is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

Another example is the article OMG! Cat poop can control your mind in the Daily Bhaskar.

I won’t go into detail on that one but suffice to say it is biased and scaremongering. I don’t like to see journalists damaging the image of the domestic cat. This is serious stuff. Words can change people’s perceptions.

I don’t know how to stop this happening. But stop it must.

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Comments

Irresponsible Online Newspapers Harmful To Cat — 17 Comments

  1. Even my doctor has fallen for this. She asked me if I’m worried about toxoplasmosis since I have a cat. I said no, because I wash my hands after I scoop his litter box. She said that many people probably are not as good about hand hygiene. She also said she had read that there appears to be a link between increased rates of suicide among cat owners where the cat(s) was (were) infected with toxoplasma gondii. She seemed to be thinking there could be a connection. She’s obviously a smart person to make it through medical school and she of all people should know what is necessary for a valid study and that there can be many variables to account for when dealing with human behavior. Yet, when it comes to cats, reason goes out the window if people don’t have cats. A person can be accepting if dogs but not have one, but people who don’t have cats usually aren’t very understanding toward those of us who do. It’s like a cat derangement syndrome. They are logical and reasonable in all areas except those concerning cats. Besides all that, how exactly would Monty get this parasite? He doesn’t eat his prey even if he manages to kill something, which is rare. He’s not fed undercooked pork or unpasteurized dairy products. I occasionally have Monty’s feces screened for parasites at his vet’s offuce and the test always comes up negative. Yet, from my doctor’s attitude I could almost have inferred that she felt it would be better if I got rid of my cat. If anything, having Monty here is very good for my mental health. And he poses virtually no risk to my physical health so long as I practice good hand hygiene.

    • Excellent comment. You say how I feel about this problem. I think the unbalanced writing about this toxoplasmosis/cats connection is from people who don’t like cats and they want to have a go at them, undermine them. That is my feeling. Your vet likes cats I guess but there needs to be more sensible research on this subject, less press hype and more balance in the discussion.

      People need to look at themselves and what they do and not almost automatically put the blame on the cat. People have this continual tendency to blame the cat in the cat/person relationship when we are in charge and often things are down to us. The feral cat is a classic. We put them there. People blame the feral cat for its existence.

      People feed cats raw meat and blame the cat for having toxoplasmosis. People are mad but it is not caused by toxoplasmosis. It is just people being people.

  2. Hi Michael,

    I have a love-hate feeling about reports en masse.

    On the one hand, they sometimes report the facts and from the proper perspective.

    On the other hand, they can take any story and either twist it by accident (ignorance) or on purpose (selfish or malicious intent).

    They also push both “sex” and negative drama because those sell better than anything else.

    When they twist something, I get offended. The negative drama is depressing.

    As an aside, they also invade privacy far too often. I’d really hate to be a celebrity. It would be bad enough getting bothered by fans every where I go, but to get constantly hounded and to have the details of what should be my private life exposed on a regular basis would infuriate and embarrass me to the extreme.

    Reporters are a necessary evil. We need them but far too often they’re a bunch of mean-spirited, shameless little demons.

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

    • Agreed. I don’t blame the press for selling stories with some hype but it has to be responsibly done. There are potential consequences. Journalists know that which leads me to believe that the Australian journalist deliberately put out a biased report. He probably did not like cats. I think news stories can be both interesting and balanced. I am for the press in general. It is about standards. One problem with the toxoplasmosis story is that the science is complicated. Journalists want to simplify things and spin it. Result: lies basically.

  3. There is a good and bad side to any thing in life, including living with house-hold domestic pets.At times, rumours and excessive media exaggeration for monetary profits aggravates a half-truth fact and the same applies to cats.Its a part of life and hence cat owners shouldn’t fret on sensationalism but piece the facts together.How is your personal health living with your cats ? As for my house-hold, both myself and my house-keeper are absolutely happy living with two cats although daily cleaning of their poop is a negative factor, although they are trained to defecate in the bathroom.Scratching of my furniture is another big headache that my cats give me. requiring special care in designing my house sofa’s .Honestly, these are the only problems or negative factors that i have faced in living with my cats, never a “MEDICAL” problem.

    • Well said. You are a smart person Rudolph. You know what the press is like. Me too. We can filter out the truths and half-truths. However, a lot of people, perhaps the majority of people don’t think that much about whether these stories are accurate or not. They just accept it. Or at least the information gets into their brain and creates doubt. It may push someone to getting rid of their cat if the decision was already borderline. I don’t like that aspect of this matter.

      • Hi Michael,

        You nailed it with “However, a lot of people, perhaps the majority of people don’t think that much about whether these stories are accurate or not.”

        That’s the problem.

        There is another problem. Even for those of us who take everything in with a grain of salt end up believing false stories from time to time. I don’t like being lead astray like that.

        =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

        • Totally agree. Falsehoods in the press change things slightly. It is irresponsible. It’s like violent computer games. The psyche of kids changes imperceptibly for the worse. I don’t whether we feed the press or the press feed us.

  4. I am just beyond words for these irresponsible reporters/papers. Do any of you read the Cat Times/Dog Times? They did one of their cute-photo-spreads on cats pix with signs saying what bad things they did. Those animals misbehavior was SCREAMING for professional help. Cats that poo/pee outside their boxes may have health or territory issues. Cats that bite and destroy things may have health, emotional or territorial issues. Still, they were just irresponsible, it hardly compares to the outrage above! What planet do they live on? I am just stunned by such medieval thinking! grrrrrr

    • Thanks for the support Dan. It is nice of you. I feel that people who respect animals need to protect animals from the irresponsible and human-centric types. What I mean by “human-centric” is people whose who world revolves around people to the exclusion of animals.

  5. ALL THOSE ANIMALS ORIGINALLY GET IT FROM CONTACT WITH THE CAT-SHED OOCYSTS.

    CATS ARE THIS PARASITE’S PRIMARY HOST ANIMAL.

    I have deleted the remainder because it is rude, crude and insulting.


    You don’t mention that most people by a large margin contract the disease (which has nearly always has no symptoms) through eating meats that they have prepared. Neither do you place any blame on the animals who carry the disease that the cat might catch and eat as prey. Aren’t these animals equally to “blame” if blame to be apportioned?

    You are a most obnoxious, made and bad maniac.

  6. The next time that someone tells you that you live in a psychotic bliss of self-inflicted ignorance because you won’t even bother to educate your own sorry self — believe them.

    The studies of how this cats’ brain-parasite is hijacking human minds is all over the net. The latest interesting study is that they found that Chanel #5 perfume’s success might be due to men who have this cats’ parasite in their mind. Humans that get their brain hijacked by this parasite are attracted to the scent of cat urine, just like what happens to rodents that become infected by this cats’ parasite. Cat pheromones were put into Chanel #5 perfume. It triggers attraction in men infected with Toxoplasma gondii parasites in their mind. Interesting stuff.

    The Toxoplasma gondii parasite is also linked to brain-cancers, autism, and schizophrenia. There’s a valid medical reason now for “The Crazy Cat Lady” syndrome — cats’ parasites in women’s minds.

    Another interesting recent study: They found that women infected with this cats’ brain-hijacking parasite are 1.5X’s more likely to commit suicide. And an interesting note to this is that T. gondii infected women were far more likely to commit more gruesome and painful acts of suicide — like leaping to their deaths or severing arteries. None of that peaceful failing to wake-up from a drug overdose for Toxoplasma gondii infected women! No-sirree! It’s gotta be bold and gruesome! More power to them, I say!

    • So you believe everything you read on the internet? You are more stupid than I original believed. The internet simply regurgitates what someone else has already regurgitated and this hyped-up story appeals to the tabloid press and to maniacs like you. Grow up and try and re-educated yourself. And while you are at it, please don’t forget to take your medication. When you stop it shows.

  7. Maybe there are more suicides with cat owning women because these women are just altogether more sensitive? Maybe there’s a reason they prefer animal company to humans. Humans might have abused them. Ever thought of that?

    • Well said. There are numerous reasons why there are more suicides with cat owning women. It may that women (a) find life harder than men because it is a man’s world and men have made a bit of pig’s ear of it and (b) many intelligent women are sensitive enough to respect and appreciate the domestic cat. The two are separate but associated by the woman’s intelligence and sensitivity. Both are totally disconnected from toxoplasmosis.

  8. As I speak I have a miserable Tonkinese on my lap (he’s wearing a cone) and we are cheering each other up. I’m a poor starving artist partially lifestyle choice and partially not. Can’t do any art with him lying on me but I can update my website. And now my tabby has come in and deposited mud on me.. Gotta love em eh.. germs or no germs!

    • Exactly, you gotta love them because they give our home a soul. They add to our lives. They make us feel better despite the mud, the litter, the vet, the fur…and ah..who cares. They have something we lack and they plug a hole in our lives.

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