Bit of bummer for cat fanciers: After analyzing over a million health records, researchers have found that cat bites are disproportionately correlated with depression. This, right on the heels of the news that your fuzzywuzzykins' teeth are pretty much germ-coated needles.
It's been a rough February for friends of felines.
The news comes from Popular Science:
After combing through the health records of 1.3 million people over 10 years, researchers found an unusual link between cat bites and depression. More than 41 percent of those who had presented to hospitals with cat bites were also treated for depression at some point. Furthermore, 86 percent of the people that had been both bitten and diagnosed with depression were women.
"If you are a woman who's been bitten by a cat, there's nearly a 50 percent chance that you will be diagnosed with depression at some point," PopSci concludes. (Don't even consider making that joke about cat ladies. Stop.)
Now, it could be that cats are simply responding to different cues: "Some animals may bite more in response to changes in their owners' mental state or level of responsiveness." But researchers also floated the possibility it's related to the dread protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. Yes, the parasite just found in Arctic beluga whales, schoolchildren's favorite marshmallow-headed mammals:
Infections from the parasite have been associated with self-inflicted violence as well as increased suicide rates in women. It has also been suggested that the inflammatory cytokines released during a T. gondii infection in the brain may be the cause of depression in some patients.
I refuse to accept that cats are simply disease-spreading, bird-murdering dicks. TAKE YOUR "SCIENCE" ELSEWHERE, SIR. And the study's authors do also suggest that, given the health benefits of pet ownership, it might simply be that people struggling with depression are more likely to adopt feline companions in the first place. SO THERE.
Photo via Getty.