Over the past two decades, an increasing number of adult patients have presented for treatment of symptoms associated with linguistic deficits not characteristic of known neurological syndromes. Less severe cases entailed impoverished vocabulary and syntax, while more severe cases resemble a mixture of glossolalia and ludic language in which most sentences had been reduced to two-
Systematic examination showed that all patients displayed the severer symptoms in the presence of their cats and the severity of the symptoms in other environments was directly correlated to the amount of time they had owned cats; thus, linguistic degeneration starts in the ailuric environment and with time spreads to other areas of life. Indeed, it was dismaying to see obviously intelligent (if rather inarticulate) adults reduced to yammering morons when their cats jumped on their shoulders or coughed up a hairball in their laps.
A fuller description of ailuric linguistic degeneration is here provided for neurologists and linguists to refine through further investigation. The most common symptom is a strong tendency to hypocorism (nicknaming) regardless of commonly accepted standards of appropriate social behavior. As an early example of the severer form of hypocorism (included over the protest of one author), a patient presented to one of the investigators complaining of an inability to focus on his writing; when the investigator introduced himself, the patient responded, “Bernard Bubo? Hey, Bernie Bubo go boo-
Another common syndrome is a tendency towards tedious nonce doggerel
of a simple form
I love my kitty,
My kitty tolerates me.
He is an it,
And it is a he.
I’m a-telling you,|
My kitty’s full of poo,
And often lets it spew
In a thick and sticky goo.
Examples of glossolalia are legion and their transcription would be unenlightening. In the most advanced stages of ailuric linguistic degeneration, many sentences are reduced to the structure of the earliest stages of children’s speech
The investigators proceeded to examine the brains of deceased cat owners, but no macroscopic neurological damage was found. It was then hypothesized that an infectious agent was the cause. After several years, a prional agent was isolated from the brains of cat owners that was not present in normal brains. To no one’s surprise, this agent was then identified in samples of cat spoor, providing the mechanism for infection. It would of course be unethical to test the effects of the agent directly on humans, so a population of dogs was tested; no adverse effects were discovered, but the investigators concluded the test was poorly designed because dogs are already drooling idiots without higher mental functions to impair. The medical details of our study are in press at Speculative Vivisectionist.
The discovery of the prional agent causing ailuric linguistic degeneration puts a number of social phenomena in a different light. First and most significantly, no one has hitherto remarked on the strong correlation in the rise in cat ownership and the decline in SAT scores over the past three decades; the consequences for public health and education policies are obvious. Second, ailuric linguistic degeneration can be aptly summarized as the Tourette’s syndrome of kitsch; the spread of cat ownership since the 1970s probably explains the decline of quality of popular music into treacle over the same period. Possibly the jazz style known as scat (whose name seems ever apter) derives from cat ownership as well. Third, the stereotype of the old cat lady who takes in many cats to escape loneliness might be seen as reversing cause and effect