How on Earth Was This Mouse Caught Riding a Cat's Back?

mouse sitting on top of a calico cat's back
mouse sitting on top of a calico cat's back

Courtesy of jess_pip / TikTok

This much-too-friendly cat and mouse might be the making of the next Tom and Jerry, but there's something else that could explain this mouse's fearless feline riding.

These two new friends—we very much hope—come to us from a Nov. 3 TikTok posted by Jessica Pippen. Someone, presumably Pippen, opens her door to a pair of cats, one of whom has a small mouse crawling on their back. Weird!

"Is that a mouse on your back?" she asks. "OK … OK …"

The human quickly ventures back into the house, grabs a dish towel, and then plucks the mouse off the tri-colored cat—murmuring, "Oh my God" under her breath—before depositing the rodent a safe distance away.

The video earned 10.1 million views and poses several questions: Did the cat notice the mouse? Are they buddies? How did the mouse get there? Most importantly, why would a mouse think it's a good idea to hop on the back of an animal who could easily kill them?

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We might have an explanation for that: toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by a parasite that can alter a rodent's behavior.

"This disease is caused by a parasitic infection that alters the brain chemistry of rodents and seems to eliminate their instinctive fear of cats and other predators," says Jenna Stregowski, RVT and Daily Paws' pet health and behavior editor. "Studies indicate that toxoplasmosis does even more; it reduces overall anxiety and diminishes fear of potential dangerous situations."

Toxoplasmosis usually doesn't cause illnesses, Stregowski adds, but it mostly will affect animals who are young or immunocompromised. So perhaps this mouse caught the disease from eating something—meat, dirt, or even cat poop—out in the wild.

Or maybe this mouse and this cat are really buds! We can at least dream.