For thousands of years, humans have enjoyed the companionship of cats, which are favored by many for their cleanliness and beauty. Unfortunately, in certain situations, these lovable felines have been known to kill the very masters who adore them. Before you turn your back on your pointy-eared pet, learn four fascinating ways it could take your life before mew know it!
Toxoplasma Gondii Parasite
A recent study published in Archives of General Psychiatry suggests that cats may indirectly promote suicide in humans. Felines commonly transmit the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause various types of mental illness, including schizophrenia and depression. According to researchers, women who contracted toxoplasmosis were 1.5 times more likely to take their own lives. Scientists estimate that about one-third the world’s population is infected with this incurable parasite.
Although it rarely occurs, cats have been known to inadvertently start fires while their owners are sleeping or away. Recently, one particular cat in Port Townsend, Washington did just that, when he accidentally depressed the lever on a toaster, while his master was asleep. Ultimately, the cat’s owner survived when she awakened to the smell of smoke. That said, over the years, firemen have attributed more than a few fatal fires to curious felines.
Many people are allergic to cats; however, in some cases, this problem can prove dangerous. According to Dr. Joseph Serra of Detroit, Michigan, people who suffer from sleep apnea could face serious consequences if a cat causes allergic symptoms.
“People don’t realize how important an open airway is until it’s not open anymore,” he said. “If you have allergies or asthma or both, you may be able to put up with a little bit of itching and a runny nose; but if you also have sleep apnea, it’s critical to do everything you can to remove allergens from your living space and treat allergy symptoms. Congestion in the nasal passages and lungs can greatly diminish your breathing ability while you sleep. In people with obstructive sleep apnea, the airway is already narrowed, so the inflammation and congestion from mucous can be enough to make an already life-threatening condition even deadlier.”
Besides carrying Toxoplasma gondii, cats also harbor many common parasites and bacteria, including cryptosporidiosis and Mycobacterium avium complex. While most healthy people may only experience mild symptoms if they become infected with most of these bugs, certain people could become dangerously ill. If you or a loved one has a weakened immune system either due to a viral infection or cancer treatments, your loving feline could prove to be a killer.
Cat Lovers Beware
It’s unlikely that any of these will dissuade a die-hard cat lover from keeping their furry family members, but at least you’ll know to take the proper precautions so you and your kitty can safely enjoy eachother’s company.
Ryan Lawrence writes for Off-Topic Media. “Cat in Barraña” by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez. “Kitty Reaper” by Off-Topic Media. Thanks to Dr. Joseph Serra for contributing to this story. Dr. Serra can be reached at his Detroit office, The Michigan Center for Advanced Dentistry.