Our campus has a lot of stray cats. Depending on the season, you can see little kittens hopping through the bushes and staring out at you from drainage pipes. I followed one today that veered out in front of me who looked a lot like my kitty. Sadly, thanks to brutes on campus and them just being feral in general, they are very scared of humans.
What brings a smile to my face is that I’m seeing more and more food left out for them. Left under steps, next to bushes, on concrete walls, out by the pipes are little cups of water, little mounds of food, bowls of food and water – dishes of ceramic and metal and plastic.
I’m sure there are the anti-animal naysayers on campus and they mutter that this is dangerous and disgusting and just aiding the mongrel population. Personally it makes me think that it’s just a heart-warming sign of human kindness.
Unless it’s actually a sign of zombification.
I remembered this article about the how the stereotype of Cat Lady may have a scientific explanation. I also remember reading about how this worked in mice. Toxoplasma gondii (which I remember correctly is what woman have to watch out for during pregnancy to protect the fetus by not dealing with cat poo) is something that when gets into the brains of mice and actually diminishes their ability to instinctively stay away from cats. In theory, the parasite creates a zombie out of its host with the goal of getting back to the stomach of the cat. Thus, the mouse gets manipulated to go over to a cat and get eaten.
The theory for cat ladies is essentially that they’ve somehow managed to ingest toxoplasma gondii and are now zombie peons for cats. Thus the food left out for cats? Should I expect to see glassy-eyed professors chained to stairs ready to meet their true masters?
I’ve known a few cat ladies and I am not finding this that hard to believe.