Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Controversial New Theory On Animal Hoarding

Hema Mullur-KFOX News

To outsiders, it seems like a demented form of abuse, but after a rash of animal hoarding cases in our area, KFOX found one very new theory about why it happens...

While the generally accepted explanation calls animal hoarding a form of obsessive compulsive disorder, Patterson said there are other theories, including a controversial one.

"Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that's usually linked to cats,” explained Dr. Rhonda Fleming.

It's the reason pregnant women are advised to keep away from cats, as the parasite in humans can cause severe birth defects. But some in the science world speculate it may also have something to do with animal hoarding. The theory goes that the parasite infects a non-feline host, and because it can only reproduce in the gut of a cat, the parasite renders the host attracted to cats. Sounds plausible, but not everyone agrees.

"There is no scientific rationale behind it, that in a normal person, that parasite will go to the brain and that will make their behavior erratic and they will love cats and they will not smell their urine, that has absolutely no scientific support," Fleming said.

Those who support the parasite theory say many animal hoarders have been tested to have toxoplasmosis. But Fleming believes it's just coincidence... More