Psychedelic Cat, That’s Where It’s At!
By now you’ve probably seen on TV or read in the news about the “glow in the dark” cats, cloned in South Korea. Beyond the aesthetics, this has real implications for treating some genetic maladies afflicting humans, in the future. From the Associate Press:
“Cats have similar genes to those of humans,” said veterinary professor Kong Il-keun of Gyeongsang National University. “We can make genetically modified cats that can be used to develop new cures for genetic diseases.”
Keitaro Kato, a geneticist at Kinki University in western Japan who has cloned fish, said the research could be significant if it eventually helps treat people with hereditary diseases.
“People with genetic disorders usually have to receive treatment throughout their lives that is very hard on them,” Kato said. “If these results can help to make their lives easier, then I think it’s a wonderful thing.”
“This picture taken through a special filter in a dark room shows, a cat, left, possessing a red fluorescent protein that makes the animal glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet rays, appearing next to a normal cloned cat, right, at Gyeongsang National University in Jinju, south of Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007. South Korean scientists have cloned cats that glow red when exposed to ultraviolet rays, an achievement that could help develop cures for human genetic diseases, the Science and Technology Ministry said. (AP Photo/ Yonhap, Choi Byung-kil)”
On the other hand, the New York Times reports that 60 million Americans are infected with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which, among other things, makes the host more susceptible to being eaten… by cats. From the NY Times article:
“The basic facts: Toxo can infect many species, but it undergoes sexual reproduction only in cat digestive tracts. Once the parasite reproduces, the cat passes it in its feces, where the next unwitting host picks it up by digesting it (intentionally or unintentionally). Then the cycle starts again. In the long run, Toxo must find its way back to a cat’s stomach to survive. So the parasite has evolved a complicated system for taking over its hosts’ brains to increase the likelihood that they’ll be eaten by cats.”
In case you’re thinking that this is just funny, check this out. According to the Times article, research has shown that “people infected with Toxo have slower reflexes and are 2.5 times as likely to get into car accidents.”
Which brings me to this question. Are we using the cats, or are the cats using us? They have developed this parasite to control our minds. There is a possibility, however slim it may seem, that those South Korean cats were exposed to some very powerful hallucinogen in the past, liked it, and decided they wanted to be psychedelic. Truthfully, wouldn’t you like your partner to glow in the dark sometimes? Why not the same for a, kitty?
I am Jon, and I’m wondering how tight that stick was tied.