|A morbidly curious cat moments before dying from asphyxiation|
"We have known for a long time that curiosity rates, even morbid curiosity, were on the rise," lead researcher and feline neuropsychiatrist Mort Fishman explained. "But to find that in some communities, particularly rural areas with a high prevalence of small rodents and hopping insects, that nearly half of kittens are above the 95th percentile for curiosity was upsetting to say the least."
Veterinarians have been seeing increased rates of curiosity and related injuries for years, and there has been a significant movement among primary care vets to screen kittens for the condition in order to institute lifestyle modifications and even pharmaceutical interventions as early as possible. The most commonly used marker, the FCI or Feline Curiosity Index, which is a simple index of friskiness-for-volume, allows veterinarians to focus on those cats that are most at risk of complications. But there are some experts who believe that the FCI is a poor indicator of overall health, and its use is fraught with false positives.
"Frankly, the FCI is bullshit," Joni Hasselhoff, a Canadian veterinarian who specializes in curiosity revealed. "It is a sloppy means of screening large populations and worthless when used on an individual basis, especially as a goal. Some cats are simply more aloof, which might raise the FCI without actually equating to higher levels of curiosity."
There is even controversy regarding the management of curious and morbidly curious cats and kittens when the diagnosis is clear. Over the past few years, most veterinarians have fallen into one of two camps: Lifestyle modification in the form of intradomicile containment versus drug therapy. Abbott Laboratories brought curiozapine, marketed as CurioCure, a drug which suppresses curiosity by decreasing sensitivity to the neurotransmitter dopamine to the market in 2010.
Still, a small but increasingly vocal third contingency of veterinarians endorses a more natural approach. So-called holistic or integrative veterinarians believe that locking a cat inside is unnecessary and that the risks of drug therapy outweigh the benefits. They recommend approaches that combine modalities such as feline massage, acupuncture and catnip enemas in order to restore a healthy energy balance and replace unhealthy curiosity with more of an adorable inquisitiveness.