Cat Brain

Some days it is more apparent than others that we never know what thoughts will be generated from day to day.

I started with an early morning coffee with a friend. Our meetings run the gamut. Talks of dreams, ramifications, and spiritual meanings often season the salad of our conversation. It is always a pleasure, and I left the meeting, per usual, filled with the possibilities of tangential thoughts.

Before heading home I stopped at a local Starbucks to bring my wife a latte. I thought that I might run into an old friend, a retired biology professor, and sure enough he was there. We hadn’t seen each for awhile so we had a standing meeting to tell each other how good we looked. Jokingly, I remarked that we were both alive. I offered my recent perception on the scientific search for the definition of life, and that in this one definition it mentioned that one qualifier for life was death. We both laughed, then the biology professer came to life and said “Protozoas don’t die, they just keep splitting, technically DNA doesn’t die, it just keeps replicating.”

I was floored. Protozoas are eternal? Surely they can be killed, but undisturbed they don’t die? This can’t be right. This has the potential of shifting some basic understandings. Just splitting forever?

Then the new thought, is DNA alive? I dunno! Never thought about it. The only connective thought comes to me from genealogy. The fact that not one of my direct ancestors died as a child. They may have died young, but all of them survived long enough to become parents, however briefly. So technically, my DNA is immortal, so far. I’ll have to think about that some more.

Naturally I need to research this protozoan thing. I took basic biology, so I have a rough idea of one cell life. Protozoans are definitely alive, but are they immortal? No, they are not, they can be killed aggressively. And apparently there are studies of natural protozoan “die off.” So…in some cases they die, but in others they just keep splitting? There is much to study in this area, and I am motivated to find more clarity.

So the morning went well, lots of new thoughts to ponder, then the last web page research hit me. It was titled, “Protozoa Could Be Controlling Your Brain”. What? They are possibly immortal, and now they can control my brain? They are designed to control my brain? Please explain this to me.

Toxoplasma gondii, one of the most widespread of all parasitic protozoa, can alter brain chemistry to change the behavior of the host in order to complete their “cycle of life”. Studies have shown that this protozoa is created in cat’s feces. Mice that are infected with this parasite protozoa lose their fear of cats. The cats eat the infected mice and the cycle of life for the protozoa is complete. What????

And yes, the protozoan parasite can infect humans by having contact with cats. I have a cat. I have written before that I have certain knowledge that my cat would eat me. I can see it in her eyes, not all the time, but now and then, I am aware that it is only my size that deters her from a meal of me.

Is that when the parasite protozoa is taking control of her brain? What about the “cat ladies” that start collecting cats, so many cats that sheer numbers could overwhelm her. Yes, apparently science has shown that cat ladies have an abundant supply of Toxoplasma gondii.

The protozoa causes the brain to make unsafe choices. Good grief, another thing to ponder.