Your cat could be making you kinky – or, in some cases, downright violent.

A new study published in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology has revealed that owning a cat could make you more likely to be sexually aroused by sadomasochism, thanks to a common brain parasite among cats known as Toxoplasma gondii.

The parasite, which which causes toxoplasmosis, is linked to arousal by fear, violence and danger in humans. Roughly a third of the global population is infected with the parasite, and transmission from feline feces is one of the most common causes.

Researchers studied 36,564 people in Slovakia and the Czech Republic – both those infected with Toxoplasma and those who were parasite-free – and found that “infected subjects are more often aroused by their own fear, danger, and sexual submission.”

The researchers also discovered that people with the parasite have a “higher attraction to bondage, violence and, in men, to masochism and raping.”

The parasite succeeds in using the fact that sex-related stimuli and fear-related stimuli impact nigh identical circuits in the brain.

“Even without Toxoplasma, there will be some relationship between fear and sex,” said lead author Jaroslav Flegr.

Despite the common nature of toxoplasmosis – which can be diagnosed via a blood test – the condition is hardly ever reported because there are no real symptoms. Roughly 350 cases are reported in England and Wales every year, but it’s predicted that the actual number of infections could be as high as 350,000.

h/t The Independent.