Stuff in My Cat

The Associated Press is reporting that H5N1—also known as “that avian flu that’s maybe gonna kill us all”—has a new vector*:


As readers of Peeps will know, this is a sure sign of The End Times. Well, okay, not really. Unlike my vampirism-causing parasite, H5N1 hasn’t yet been proven to move from cats to people. Of course, no one’s saying that it can’t happen, either.

Felines are scarier carriers than birds, if only because most of us don’t have chickens in our house. Pigeons don’t sleep on our chests at night. Turkeys don’t wind around our ankles when we get home. How much contact do we have with cats? Well, half of all Americans are infected with toxoplasma, a cat-borne brain parasite that changes human personalities. (Biology is kewl.)

For those of you who haven’t read my novel Peeps, it’s about a parasite that causes vampirism. The parasite starts out in rats, moving in times of crisis to cats and through them into humans. It’s kind of disturbing to see such a strong parallel in the real world. Especially as H5N1 is worse than the peeps-parasite in two ways:

1) It starts out in bird reservoirs, which can spread the disease globally much faster than rats.
2) It doesn’t give you any super powers. No night vision, no super-hearing. Zip.

The AP report goes on to make these points:

”We know that mammals can be infected by H5N1, but we don’t know what this means for humans,” [Maria Cheng] said.

[Thomas] Mettenleiter said there are no known cases of the virus moving from cats to humans, but he still cautioned pet owners on Ruegen [a German island in the Baltic Sea] to keep their cats inside for now.

”An infection of humans, which theoretically cannot be ruled out, could probably only occur with very intimate contact to infected animals,” Mettenleiter said.

So don’t toss your kittens into the fire yet. But quit, you know, kissing them.

And here’s some appropriate fan art from Jade Lennox:

AHHHH! (thanks, Jade)

This all reminds me, the beautiful Australian edition of Peeps just arrived in my mailbox, and hits stores in April.

*Note that this is merely the first time that H5N1 has been discovered in mammals in Europe. In Asia, there have been earlier incidents of captive, poultry-fed tigers and leopards contracting the virus, and one case of transmission among house-cats. Sorry for being Euro-centric, but I didn’t catch this till now.

20 thoughts on “Stuff in My Cat

  1. AHAHA. That’s so awesome. Although, I wouldn’t say cats are scarier than birds…(shudder)

    Try being attacked by and ostritch. Then we’ll see which is scarier. Fluffy? I don’t think so.

  2. My cat Holly loves to sit on hardcover books – but only if the dust jacket has been removed.

    Twinkie, Hollywood and Spooky are peep-free. I promise.

  3. I guess it’s too late for me. I kiss my kitty all the time. She sleeps on my bed. 🙂 But if toxoplasma makes me more outgoing, so much the better. 😀

  4. Wow. I am totally doomed over here with my seven cats.
    One of which just so happens to also be named Spooky. 🙂

    I was probably infected with some kind of parasite last summer when I was taking care of that crow…

  5. i only have one cat, she is fat. and, scott, mabye you are psychic, and you knew that we were all going to die from vampire-ism. but you didn’t know you knwe, like subconsciencely, so you qrote a book about it.

    and bailey, crows are pure evil. why did you take care of one? i swear they tried to kill my chickens, so i tried to shoot them with my BBgun, but it bounced off them. then it sounded like they were laughing. crows have scared me ever since i saw ‘Birds’, that was a freaky movie

  6. Ohh! I loved that movie!
    I also love crows.
    Shiftless troublemakers, as they call them.
    He was hurt, so I took care of him…or her…
    He/she wound up dying anyway though… 🙁
    They’re really pretty up close.
    And ever see the movie The Crow? Awesome movie.

  7. My cat doesn’t like me, so you don’t have to worry about me. I, however, kiss him endlessly. Maybe you should be worried.
    Also, what is that on the cover? A bird?

  8. Hi I’m not very good with motifs and themes? but would one of the themes/motifs be like censorship? If not could you please give like a hint? I’m kind of desperate right now.

  9. Chelsea: if Scott were to tell us the entire theme of Peeps, it would ruin the speculation for the rest of us! We can at best generalize the themes behind his works—because a writer never reveals his secrets. Furthermore, anything can be a theme/motif if you can explain it. (And sometimes, writers don’t realize what symbolism they inscribe in their works—I’m one of them.)

    Amy: Crows are chickens’ natural predators—shooting at them is at best a temporary solution.

    My best friend keeps a cat—but she’s a very shy person, and her cat is absolutely vicious. I have a weird sort of germ-phobia that prevents me from touching animals in any way, so I suppose I won’t have to worry about becoming toxoplasmic. Yay.

  10. my cousins had chickens bfore, but they were given away because its not a suitable enviroment for them to live, I know its sad, and its sadder that it could be this thigh im eating right now… 😉

  11. Creepy. Scott, you need to make some sort of message board so we can safely discuss your books without spoiling. Because HOLY FLYING CARP! I did not expect that ending, it’s killing me. I can’t believe Midnighters is all over…

  12. Wow, what a bunch of nature lovers. Crows? Cats? Chickens? You’re all DOOMED!

    Actually, my parents had chickens in the back yard back in Dallas.

    Hannah: I have now started the Midnighters Spoiler Zone in the next post. Let the spoilage begin!

    Chelsea, are you talking about the themes of Uglies? Jeeze, there’s like a million of them. Definitely, go for censorship. But the bigger theme is societal control, after all: enforced operations, surveillance technology, secret police. Rock out on that stuff.

  13. Crows are one of the smartest birds of… all the birds. It will take food to a hiding place and save it for later.

    And some other stuff.

    But crows are cool. Or cewl. Kool.

    Neat-o torpedo will do for now.

  14. I’m mad. The only bookstore that would have Blue Noon, Border’s, only ordered ONE copy, and naturally they sold it, and even had it as still being unsold, but now I have to wait a WEEK until they can order it.

  15. I absolutely love that cover, its a peep, from like easter candy! well i think i just made a complete idiot over myself, oh well……life goes on

  16. Yo! The other Midnighters entry was too backlogged with comments for me to bother with, so I thought I’d post here: Really looking forward to your san francisco visit, ‘specially the Laurel Village one (my neighborhood ^_^). By the way, if you’re visiting the mission, you might as well check out 826 Valencia, the Children and Adult’s Writing and Tutoring center. The people there are chill, and it’s pretty much the literary center of the city,

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