The Secret World Of Cats

Video highlights from Science Of Stupid - Cats

5 things you never knew about our feline friends

1. Your cat could give you a mind-controlling parasite.

An evolutionary biologist named Jaroslav Flegr has made headlines for a radical claim: that a common parasite called Toxoplasma gondii is controlling our brains.

"Toxo," which typically infects cats, is famous among scientists for its clever tactic of jumping from one cat to another by infecting rats and altering their behaviour to make them more likely to be eaten by another cat, thus transferring the parasite to a new host.

Flegr discovered that the behaviours that toxo provokes in rats in order to get them eaten—slowed reaction times, lethargy, and reduction in fear—also show up in infected humans.

Learn more.

2. Your cat can influence your love life.

A survey of pet owners reveals animals can influence whom you date.

Pets “add some twists and turns to our love lives," says study co-author Justin Garcia, an evolutionary biologist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University.

Women were also more likely than men to judge a date based on how that person reacted to their pet, with 553 women and 277 men saying this would make a difference.

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3. Your cat knows how you’re feeling.

If you’ve ever been on the internet, you’ll know humans love their cats. But whether they love us has always been a little more unclear.

However, a new study suggests they can read our facial expressions and are sensitive to our emotions.

Two researchers at Oakland University have found that cats behave differently when their owners are smiling as opposed to frowning.

Learn more.

4. Why you love watching cat videos.

A new study has shown that watching cat videos gives people more energy and makes them feel better about the world.

“If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can’t ignore Internet cats anymore,” says Indiana University Assistant Professor Jessica Gall Myrick.

She found that “even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward.”

Learn why we freak out when we see something cute.

5. Your cat can be allergic to you.

Cats' allergy symptoms can manifest as miliary dermatitis, which shows up as little scabs or missing hair, typically around the head and neck area, though it can happen elsewhere.

"It always makes owners kind of sad if their reaction is to human dander," says Christine Cain, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, but happily the two of you don't have to part.

"If we have a patient that reacts to human dander, usually they react to other allergens as well.”

That means your vet can treat the pet's allergy, either with allergy shots or oral drops that contain small amounts of the problem allergens. This retrains your pet's system to ignore the allergen.

Learn more.

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