In What Surprising Way Can Cats Influence Entrepreneurial Behavior?

Here's a little-known get-rich-quick tip: Get a cat. While it might seem odd to suggest a link between felines and fortune, several studies over the past decade have shown that a parasite found in cat feces that often infects humans can make you less afraid and more willing to take risks. Toxoplasma gondii infections don't typically manifest in any obvious ways, but they can cause subtle changes in behavior. In the most recent study, researchers found that entrepreneurs were almost twice as likely to have the infection as others, and business students were also commonly infected -- especially those focusing on management or entrepreneurship. The findings were in line with what had been previously demonstrated in mice; namely, that mice infected with Toxoplasma gondii were less afraid of cats -- even though cats see them as prey. The study suggested a similar quality in people, even to the point that people who died taking risks were more likely to be infected.

Lead researcher Dr. Stefanie K. Johnson said it was surprising to see how a simple parasite could so drastically affect someone's behavior. "There's this entire community living within our bodies," she said. "A whole ecosystem that can be affecting you. I think that's exciting." Toxoplasma gondii infections are believed to be present in approximately 2 billion people around the world.

Funny things about felines:

  • A cat's collarbone doesn't connect to any other bones, allowing the cat to fit through all kinds of tight places.
  • All cats have retractable claws except for cheetahs, which need those claws to grip the ground as they chase prey.
  • Contrary to some American superstitions, black cats are considered to be good luck in Japan and Great Britain.
More Info: CNN

Discussion Comments


"Lead researcher" Stefanie K. Johnson clearly is infected by a disease known as Wishful Presumption. That she would make a connection between entrepreneural success and cat feces-borne Toxoplasma gondii is-- to put it most kindly-- sufficient to call her observations into question.

Responsible research uses experimentation with scientific method and rigorous methodology. Johnson has yet to demonstrate her human connection-- if thoroughly validated-- has any relation to entreneural success. It might have helped for to post links to the research, itself-- if it has been published.

The more obvious questions-- (1) is this the "research" of a business school? (2) where is the research institution located? (3) has the Johnson's hypothesis of pathogen-driven success been reviewed by the scientific community?

This type of article makes many readers wonder about the quality of content submitted to for publication. Not to mention, to wonder about editorial oversight.


A note about Toxoplasma in cats: it can be harmful and even deadly to a fetus. Pregnant women should not be handling cat litter.

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