Cats: Not to be Trusted

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Please note: No cats were hurt in the writing of this blog post.

My daughter’s dog has a cat. He loves his cat. Yes, that’s his picture above. He’s grooming his cat. He enjoys it. The cat appears to enjoy it too.

There are many things I love about sharing a house with my daughter. I love how she accentuates the positive. I love how she tells my inner mean girl to shut up. I love that she pay attention to what I have to say. I even love her dogs.

I just hate her dog’s cat.

Cat

Cat (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

It’s bad enough that cats cause depression, use litter boxes, and indiscriminately kill birds and rodents, but her cat sneaks into my office late at night when I’m asleep and messes with my stuff.

At first I blamed the dogs (cats are expert at shifting blame), until I realized if one of the big dogs leapt onto my desk it would collapse and the mini beagle can’t jump that high. No way dogs were dancing on my desk at night and leaving my papers in a disarray. My suspicions were confirmed the morning I opened my office door to find the cat guiltily looking up from a pile of papers. He fled through a secret entrance back into his bedroom before I could react. After I picked up the papers and straightened out my desk,  I found the cat pee.

Luckily he missed the laptop, kindle and ipad. His watery destructiveness was limited to the desktop calendar, my favorite Grammar Girl book, and a few pages of miscellaneous  notes. Enough to tick me off, but not enough to ruin my day.

Kattenbak

Kattenbak (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And it certainly didn’t ruin the cat’s day, mainly because cat’s are hard to discipline.

A dog will drop into a submissive pose and look guilty even if he isn’t. A cat won’t.

A dog will understand he’s done something wrong and attempt to worm his way back into your good graces. A cat doesn’t.

Cats are resistant to having their nose rubbed in something, their snouts lightly tapped, or hearing the words “bad cat.” Almost like their egos are so large they can’t conceive of doing wrong. Cats are very egocentric, possibly sociopathic.

Which is why, in spite of the cat’s bad behavior, I’ll take no further action than to block his secret tunnel. As the bad boys of domesticated animals, I can’t spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder and wondering how he plans to take his revenge. You know, like entwining himself in my feet as I descend the stairs or pinning me under the blankets and smothering me. And that’s only the cat tricks I know about. Imagine how many devious little feline machinations remain secret.

On second thought, don’t imagine that. If you do and there’s a cat in your house, you’ll never sleep well again. And if there is a cat in the house, sleep with one eye open. Cats aren’t to be trusted.

(Evil) cat

(Evil) cat (Photo credit: zven-ug)

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Skip the Sex and Spinach

Every time I pick up a newspaper or check out the online news I’m amazed by the new studies that shed light on healthcare myths. At this point, you’d think researchers would be running out of things to challenge, but no, there’s still plenty of information, once thought of as gospel, that now turns out to be nothing but wishful thinking and fantasy.

News this week that made me think “duh”? Green leafy veggies are the most common cause of food poisoning.

Lettuce

Lettuce (Photo credit: photofarmer)

Common sense says why the hell wouldn’t they be? Leafy greens live down at ground level, get submerged in mud every time it rains, and they are hard to clean. Fields of green being planted or picked by migrant workers who probably don’t have ready access to porta-potties (though it makes sense not to set up porta-pottties near food) are the most likely culprits in providing a little e.coli to the mix.  That triple washed on the package may mean triple washed in sewage. Luckily, lettuce is easy to grow at home.

In news designed to infuriate drug makers, another study looked at male erectile dysfunction and heart disease. Forget those commercials with bathtubs and happy couples, the more severe a man’s ED, the greater his risk for heart disease and premature death.

cialis

Doctors are advised to screen and test men for heart disease instead of discreetly passing along a six pack of Viagra.

The New England Journal of Medicine stepped in this week to debunk some myths about weight loss. Turns out having sex does not burn 100-300 calories per participant.  It only burns a measly 50 calories,  equal to 10 minutes of vacuuming or 20 minutes of typing.

"Vacuuming" (93/365)

“Vacuuming” (93/365) (Photo credit: kalavinka)

So for weight loss, skip the sex and grab a vacuum. You might not work up the sweat associated with sex, but you’ll look better burning those 50 calories.

It turns out fecal transplants can be a real lifesaver. Hard to treat c. difficile infections respond better to a procedure involving donor feces infused into the patient’s small intestine than they do to antibiotics. I am not shitting you on this. Doctors who promote this treatment agree that the science bears them out, but the ick factor involved, both having the treatment and harvesting the feces for treatment, make it a tough sell.  fmt

The award for best research goes to the scientists who looked into the killing capability of cats. There is a reason that cats in movies and books are suspected of smothering babies in their sleep and nudging the elderly or infirm down stairs.

English: Young street cats, Portugal.

English: Young street cats, Portugal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Cats awaiting their next victims.

It’s well known that cats carry germs that cause depression and miscarriage.  Now it’s revealed that cats kill 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds and 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals every year. Not only are they killers, they’re serial killers. Feral and outdoor cats contribute to the bulk of the killings, but people with indoor cats should be aware that, quite possibly, their fluffy little friend is plotting their demise.

Thanks, science!

Have any freaky health research studies? Let me know in the comments.

Cats Cause Suicide

Cats cause suicide. Surprised? I was. I always believed the sneaky, furry creatures were more apt to creep onto my face at night and smother me rather than drive me to suicide. This accounts for my scrupulous sobriety any time cats are in my vicinity. I can tell they’re plotting and waiting for someone to get drunk enough to pass out, rendering the victim incapable of responding when the cat-like smothering starts. But suicide?

And using an iPad at night can cause depression. Damn. I thought not having an iPad caused depression or, at the very least, envy.  My friends with iPads always act so happy.  Now I have to consider the joy of owning one may be the public face they’re showing while inside they’re crying.

In Britain, over 500 breast cancer deaths a year are believed to be caused by working the night shift. I worked the night shift for several years. I knew I was at risk for weight gain and insomnia, but no one explained the breast cancer connection. As more companies hire overnight workers, isn’t this a public health concern we should forcefully battle? Particularly as there are professions that demand night work such as police officers, fire fighters, air traffic controllers, flight attendants and hospital employees. Should we ban women from working those hours?

It seems every time I read the health section of a newspaper I find another unexpected and sometimes unavoidable risk factor for a disease I don’t currently have, but may get.  How worried should we be?

Well sexy headlines, like “cats cause suicide,” serve a purpose far greater than alerting the public to a potential problem. Consider that there were no health advisories after the cat-suicide connection research was published to have people with cats checked for evidence of T. gondii, the parasite allegedly responsible for the suicidal behavior. There was no public outcry to ban cats. Instead the researchers cautioned that there were limitations to the study, a larger population needed to be examined, and, even if a direct connection  was found, there were no drugs to treat T. gondii. The study recommendations were to practice hand hygiene and food safety, making prevention options for suicide in cat owners the same as prevention options for food poisoning. Helpful.

What did the headlines and publicity actually accomplish? Generate interest in further research.  Conducting research is expensive. Dollars for research face stiff competition. Sexy headlines attract focus which attract dollars.  Sort of like when a celebrity gets a disease and starts a foundation. Suddenly everyone is lining up to get involved.

Research is good, but attaching it to a controversial or provocative headline may be more about drumming up donors and discussion and less about conclusive results which can improve our health.  Being overly concerned about every newspaper story or article that comes along warning of early research findings that may harm our health is harmful to our health.

If we’re going to believe the headlines, let’s focus on the happy ones. Red wine, chocolate and sex all have reported health benefits. Enjoy those in moderation (and then you won’t have to worry about death by cat suffocation either).