Remember how your cat was waging a long-con, biological war on you? And then — with suspicious abruptness — it wasn’t waging war on you anymore and you were like, “But I could have sworn...” uneasily returning to your household chores with a creeping feeling that your cat hadn’t abandoned its murderous plans? Well, it turns out you were right to be uneasy — you’re cat is still trying to kill you, only this time not with parasites. This time, it’s tuberculosis.
Why, exactly, would your cat want to John Keats you, even after you feed it, scratch under its chin, and knit fun, kaleidoscopic socks for its little feet? Because in your obsequious desire to appease your domestic carnivore’s relentless bloodlust, you let your cat roam out of doors, murdering and fighting with small woodland creatures like voles, and drinking unpasteurized milk in the soft moonlight on the moors.
A recent study from the University of Edinburgh found that tuberculosis is more common among domestic cats (at least in the UK) than previously believed. An eyebrow-raising, hand-kneading 100 out of every 100,000 cats could be infected with some form of tuberculosis, with about a fifth of the cases caused by the same bacterium found in badgers and cattle. Scientists initially worried that the spread of TB in domestic cats boded ill for cattle, but it turns out their fears were far too prosaic — vets now worry that cats can spread TB directly to people, since, unless cats are feral, they tend to have a lot of contact with humans.
The good news is that most people in the UK have been inoculated against TB with the BCG vaccine, made from the attenuated Mycobacterium bovis tuberculosis bacillus. The bad news, according to the Telegraph, is that more and more people aren’t getting the BCG vaccine because the Western world’s relatively awesome modern-day track record for public health crises has lulled people into a false sense of security that cats, those agents of the capricious netherworld, are now ready to exploit.
Image via Chad Zuber/ Shutterstock.