Cats Don't Cause Mental Health Problems, Study Says
But for now, rest assured that cat ownership isn't going to make you insane - within reason, of course. After all, cats are known to house the common parasite Toxoplasma Gondii (T. Gondii), which researchers at the University of Chicago in a 2016 study originally linked to angry outbursts. However, a new study has found out that this is not the case and that there is no connection between cats and mental illness in humans.
The CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid changing cat litter if possible.
However, in expectant mothers and those with depleted immune systems, the condition could cause severe health issues, including harm to the brain and eyes. Although most people who experience psychotic symptoms in adolescence will not develop psychotic disorders later in life, these symptoms often indicate an increased risk for such disorders and other mental illnesses, including depression.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that more than 60 million people in the country may be infected with the said cat parasite. After the scientists controlled for factors like socioeconomic status, there was no link between developing psychosis and having owned a cat.
Another strength of the new study is that it followed participants forward in time, whereas some previous studies have asked adults to think back to details about their childhood. While toxoplasmosis can be acquired by eating undercooked meat, it is notably contracted via contact with animal feces containing the parasite.
While, the study did not find a link between T. Gondii and mental health, it can still cause other serious problems during pregnancy or in early childhood.
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The parasite, which breeds in cats' stomachs, had been associated with a seven times increased risk of suicide in people bitten and infected by their pets and even found recently to cause extreme PMT for women.
Dr. Francesca Solmi, the lead author of the study from UCL Psychiatry, said that there is a clear message to people who choose to own felines, "there is no evidence that cats pose a risk to children's mental health".
It's worth noting, however, that while the "cats make you crazy" claim isn't true, there is still evidence to back up warnings about toxoplasma gondi increasing the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or other health problems in a child.
Published Wednesday on the Psychological Medicine journal, the report was conducted using birth cohort data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a cohort research on more than 15,000 British families with babies born between 1991 and 1992.
Soiled litter boxes are not the only places to contract the parasite.
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