Cats are known for their famously grumpy attitude, but a new study suggests that people with cats might actually be more prone to bouts of rage due to toxoplasmosis, an illness that’s actually caused by a parasite found in both cat feces and raw meat.
According to lead researcher of the study Dr. Emil Coccaro, people who are diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder (IED) are more than twice as likely to carry Toxoplasmosa gondii, the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis.
“If you’ve got someone with aggression problems, you might check them for toxoplasmosis,” said Coccaro, chair of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago. “People who blow up have a real problem. It’s not just a character problem or bad behavior. There’s something underneath that’s driving it.”
However, Coccaro’s study was not a clinical trial. This means that the results don’t establish a direct cause and effect link.
According to UPI.com, IED is a disorder that involves recurring, impulsive outbursts of anger that can manifest in both physical and verbal aggression. The disorder affects as many as 16 million Americans and, according to the study, is more common that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia combined.
“They’ve got a short trigger, and when they’re threatened by something, they blow up,” Coccaro said.
And Coccaro and fellow researchers believe that toxoplasmosis might be linked to some cases of IED.
For the most part, toxoplamosis is a harmless infection. For those with weakened immune systems, toxoplasmosis can cause damage to the brain eyes or other organs.
Yet previous research shows that even otherwise healthy carriers may experience a change due to the disease. Previous studies have found that those with toxoplasmosis are linked to an increased risks of impulsiveness and aggressiveness, as well as suicide and suicidal behavior.
There are over 38 million households in the United States with cats. Perhaps this explains why there are so many crazy cat ladies out there.