I know you’re going to read this and think, “Okay, what have these two wiseasses come up with this time?” but I swear we didn’t make this one up!
It even appears to be a legitimate research paper, despite first attracting media attention on April Fool’s Day. (The paper itself was accepted in late 2021 and published in the journal PeerJ on March 25.)
To put it simply, adopting a cat will make all your wildest dreams come true. Buddy was right!
Cat servants are rated more attractive than people who don’t share their homes with cats, rate higher on traditional measurements of attractiveness like facial symmetry, and even weigh less (women) or, if they’re men, have higher levels of testosterone.
That’s according to a multinational research team led by Javier Borráz-León of Finland’s University of Turku.
How is this possible?
The team — which also consists of scientists from Latvia, Estonia and Mexico — believes it’s because of the infamous toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that infects cat droppings and can pass to humans and other animals.
T gondii nudges its hosts toward behavior that propagates the parasite itself.
“First, we found that infected men had lower facial fluctuating asymmetry whereas infected women had lower body mass, lower body mass index, a tendency for lower facial fluctuating asymmetry, higher self-perceived attractiveness, and a higher number of sexual partners than non-infected ones,” the study authors wrote. “Then, we found that infected men and women were rated as more attractive and healthier than non-infected ones.”
There’s precedent for this. Earlier studies have found that while most parasites make their hosts less likely to reproduce because they cause detectable negative health defects, toxoplasma gondii does the opposite. Male rats who are infected by t. gondii are more attractive to potential sexual partners in an example of a parasite that “can indeed manipulate host sexual signaling to their own advantage.”
That’s not to say you’d want to go and get yourself infected. Toxoplasma gondii can cause negative health effects, most famously in pregnant women, and may be responsible for agitating certain mental health issues. Some scientists have said fears about the parasite are overblown, and cats aren’t actually the primary culprits: People are more likely to become infected by drinking water from unsanitary sources, eating undercooked meat or shellfish, or eating unwashed vegetables and fruits from contaminated soil.
Still, it’s possible to get the parasite from being careless around cat litter, especially if your cat spends time outdoors. It’s another good reason to keep your kitties inside.
Buddy has left the building
After surviving a brutal and intentional attack when two teenagers sicced their pitbulls on him, Buddy the Philadelphia Cat has been upgraded to stable condition and he’s off to a foster home!
The little guy made headlines and captured hearts around the world with his ordeal, his bravery and the strength he showed as he clung to life in those first few days, when veterinarians feared he could succumb to his many wounds.
But late this week, Buddy was able to stand up for the first time since the attack, and he had a big appetite after so many days spent incapacitated and on pain medication.
The little fighter still needs time to recover before the Pennsylvania SPCA finds a good home for him. From what we hear, there are no shortage of applications from people who would love to give him the best life possible. For the time being, he’s staying with one of the veterinarians who cared for him during those fraught early days, so it’s good to know the good boy will have a familiar face around.