Archives for November 2005

Old Myths & Wives Tales Hit A New Low

There are so many inaccurate urban legends about pets. This morning a commentary crossed my desk regarding the irresponsible comment that cats cause schizophrenia. Geez.

People still think cats pass toxoplasmoisis when humans are more likely to get it from other sources. The myth means that many household felines still get dumped over the inaccurate assumption that they cause risk to pregnant women and their unborn children. Household pets receive regularly veterinary medical screening and health care–and actually contribute to the physical well-being of humans…as other studies have documented.

Unless a controlled and accurate study is conducted regarding environmental influences, genetic predispositions and other parameters this is a very irresponsible theory to spout. Dr. Torrey has released a new book this year and perhaps this is a good marketing avenue that the media has grasped onto (it was a hot item in 2004 as well).

Humans are exposed to disease on a daily basis. I am more worried about shopping carts at grocery stores where children mouth and drool on the handles than about the transmission of disease by pets. Good hygene is critical to avoid exposure to disease but our immune systems only get stronger by developing resistance and that is certainly not done in a germ free environment.

On that note, I just saw a news story that “chickens are the great new pet.” Hmmm, I find this interesting when the risk of bird flu has been plaguing the newswires for months–expecially since transmission has been mainly connected with poultry. Go figure.

Anyway, contributing to hysteria over the risk of contracting disease from other living beings is a bit much. Zoonosis is a long established concern and nothing new but you might want to take a gander at the new work via the link below called, Beasts Of The Earth: Animals, Humans, And Disease by E. Fuller Torrey and Robert H Yolken.

Check out some of these articles and leave your comments:

Bad science can be bad for cats by Barbara Wehmann

Pet Theory Do Cats Cause Schizophrenia? by Stephen Mihm

Center of Disease Control Comments CDC

Rutgers University Press: Beasts of the Earth: Animals Humans and Disease by E. Fuller Torrey & Robert H Yolken.

Mental Health & Well-Being in Animals

Finally there is a text book out on the topic of animal mental health and well-being. Sorry to be so late in reporting this to you but the English published book combines commentary from leading experts on animal emotion research, animal behavior, cognitive science, neuroscience and veterinary medicine.

Hopefully this means that many of the past concepts of anthropomorphism will be dismissed. The topic of animal emotion has always amused me since most commentary fails to mention that humans are animals.

What I found amusing, in the report sent my way, was that a neuroscientist was quoted as “discovering” laughter in rats. I bet rats have known it all along and I remember my rats playing games and laughing during the frolicking. Any animal professional who doesn’t recognize the emotional influences telegraphed by the animals in their charge are not in tune with nature.

However, I am happy to see the scientific community moving forward and proving many of the things most animal-connected individuals take for granted!