Watching the Tube

Pierre: Do you know a human who is sad because the football season is over? There are a lot of them out there. I understand, because as a mancat, I would be sad if my favorite programs were off the air, too.

gray tabby cat in sleepyod with cloudpuff blankie

If one of your humans is having this problem, you can encourage him to feel better by watching TV with you! Settle into your favorite TV viewing spot. Every man and mancat has one.Usually it’s the spot that your rear end has made nice and soft by sitting there many times. If it’s a little chilly in your house, pull up a soft, warm blanket to help keep your fur warm.

gray tabby cat in sleepyod with cloudpuff blankie

Then turn on your favorite program. Your human will feel better almost immediately. You can tell he feels better when he starts laughing while watching you watching the television.

gray tabby cat watches tv from the comfort of his sleepypod

It’s still getting dark early here in the winter, so it’s a great time to catch up on all of your favorite programs.

gray tabby cat watches tv from the comfort of his sleepypod

Or if your human isn’t feeling like watching TV, you can ask to have the TV tuned to your favorite channel. There’s no need why you should not enjoy, even if they have human things to do.

Do you have some programs to catch up on with (or without) your human this weekend?

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Research Exploring Cat Ownership and Depression Makes Surprising Discovery

For years there has been a growing body of research linking cat ownership and depression, especially in women. A number of studies have looked at his from different angles, trying to determine the actual cause of this, and a new study may have come across an unexpected cause: Bartonella bacteria.

Previous Research

Data analysis of patient records for 1.3 million patients previously discovered a statistical association between cat bites and human depression. That study’s authors suggested that the women could be infected with Toxoplasmosa gondii, which made them depressed. The researchers did not suggest that the cat bites were necessarily the cause of the Toxoplasmosa infection, but it was being noticed as a common characteristic of the depressed women who all had cats.

gray cat bites a human hand

Previous research had already linked depression and suicide attempts to the Toxoplasmosis infection. One theory is this happens that when humans are infected with Toxoplasmosa, the immune system kicks in to try to ward off the attacker by producing molecules called cytokines that tell your immune cells to get to work. High levels of cytokines have been linked to both depression and suicide attempts.

New Research on Animal-Inflicted Injuries and Depression

A pair of researchers in the Czech Republic wanted to take a closer look at the correlation between animal-inflicted injuries and depression. Study subjects filled out a questionnaire where they identified how closely they lived with dogs or cats during their whole lives and whether they had been bitten or scratched by a dog or cat.

cat biting string

The research subjects also took the Beck Depression Inventory, a standard diagnostic tool to measure the severity of depression, and they also identified whether they had ever been diagnosed as infected with Toxoplasmosa gondii.

Detailed analysis of the survey results found that neither cat bites nor Toxoplasmosa were the primary correlation to depression in women. Instead, depression occurred more often in women who had been scratched by cats.

cat claws

This led the researchers question whether something other than Toxoplasmosa might be triggering depression in women. The study’s authors propose that the Bartonella bacteria, which is responsible for cat-scratch disease, might actually be the cause.

Cat-scratch disease, also known as cat-scratch fever, is carried by fleas and ticks and transmitted to humans primarily by scratches from cats, usually when the cats are kittens. Cats get the Bartonella bacteria that causes cat-scratch disease by being bitten by infected fleas, and it is found in up to 40% of cats.

cat scratching itch

Human medicine usually focuses on the physical symptoms caused by Bartonella, which can include a bump or blister at the wound site where the bacteria entered the body, low grade fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and fatigue. Newer research about Bartonella in humans shows that it can become a chronic condition that returns after it seems to be eradicated by antibiotics, and it can also cause psychiatric issues, including treatment-resistant depression.

Just as the previous correlation of depression in cat owners to Toxoplasmosa infection was not fully explored, the statistical link between cat scratches, potential Bartonella infection, and depression is still in its early stages, and the study authors suggest that a wider study be performed.

Hopefully science will soon help us learn more about whether this is really the root cause of the observed link between living with cats and depression. In the meantime, it is a good idea to reinforce during kittenhood that human hands and feet aren’t toys to bite and scratch, trim your cat’s nails, and to try to quickly get rid of flea infestations. Those are good practices regardless of the outcome of future research.

Research and further reading:

Parasites & Vectors, Cat scratches, not bites, are associated with unipolar depression – cross-sectional study
Lancet, Feasibility of neonatal screening for toxoplasma infection in the absence of prenatal treatment
The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Toxoplasma gondii Seropositivity and Suicide Rates in Women
PLOS One, Describing the Relationship between Cat Bites and Human Depression Using Data from an Electronic Health Record
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bartonella Infection – for Veterinarians
Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Bartonella sp. Bacteremia in Patients with Neurological and Neurocognitive Dysfunction
Medscape General Medicine, Do Bartonella Infections Cause Agitation, Panic Disorder, and Treatment-Resistant Depression?

Photo credits:

depositphotos, photo-deti
depositphotos, OlegTroino
flickr creative commons, Tambako the Jaguar

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Persistence Pays

Ashton: You may have kept Newton away from the treats, little toy, but you can’t keep me out.

one-eyed brown tabby cat plays with treat-dispensing toy

Ashton: I SEE you in there.

one-eyed brown tabby cat eyes treat-dispensing toy

Ashton: And I’m going to get you out… and into my mouth.

brown tabby cat plays with treat dispensing toy

Ashton: Newton pushed you around with his paws, but I think the secret is to push you with my nose. Besides, you smell sooooo tasty….

one-eyed brown tabby cat noses treat-dispensing toy

Ashton: SCORE!

one-eyed brown tabby cat sees treat that fell from treat-dispensing cat toy

Ashton:  Okay, now another nose push…

Pierre: What’s all the noise in there?

Ashton: I finally figured out how to get the treats out of the dispensing ball. 

brwon tabby cat works on treat dispensing cat toy as gray tabby cat looks on

Pierre: But you’re on a diet. Treats aren’t on your Cat Watchers plan!

Ashton: I don’t want to hear any more about diets and Cat Watchers! These treats are mine!

one-eyed brown tabby cat defends treat-dispensing toy from gray tabby cat

Ashton: Geez, does he think I’m going to all of this effort to get exercise or something?

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The Treat Dispenser that Wouldn’t

Pierre: Oh, that smells good!

Newton: Don’t worry, I’ve got this. Those treats will be out of there in no time.

orange tabby cat and gray tabby cat with treat toy

Pierre: Go! Go! Go! I don’t see any treats falling out yet.

Newton: Give me a minute here. It’s going to happen: treats everywhere. 

Orange tabby cat plays with treat dispensing toy as gray tabby cat looks on

Ashton: Did someone say treats everywhere?

Pierre: Newt is going to get the treats out of the dispensing ball for us. He’s being a little slow about it, though.

Newton: I don’t see YOU being a lot of help. Why don’t you go watch a bird or something? I’ll tell you when it’s ready.

Orange tabby cat plays with treat dispensing toy as brown tabby cat and gray tabby cat look on

Ashton: You can’t fool me. I’m keeping my eye on you and those treats. I can smell them all the way over here.

Newton: You’re supposed to be on a diet, remember? I’m pretty sure that Cat Watchers says you can’t eat treats between meals.

Orange tabby cat has treat dispensing toy as brown tabby cat looks on

Pierre: Did you get a treat out? Are you eating without sharing? Newton!

Ashton: I’m watching. He’s just faking it.

Pierre: Faking treats?

Newton: It’s so embarrassing to not be able to get any treats out of there. Something must be wrong with this toy. One of you can try it.

Orange cat looks for treats as gray tabby cat and brown tabby cat look on

It’s true! We finally found a treat dispensing toy Newton couldn’t immediately conquer. He actually gave up without getting any treats out of it, much to Ashton and Pierre’s frustration, since Newton is the designated dispenser operator. We have shown photos in the past of how he has gone as far as breaking open treat dispensing toys to get at their contents, so the humans are pretty excited about this find, even if the cats would like something with easier treat access.

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