A fascinating new study looks at the links between cats and mental health issues in people, and the results are surprising.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of scientists out there that believe that pet cats may increase the risk of a child of developing schizophrenia. But a new study recently released throws some cold water on that idea, for now.
The idea that cats may cause the illness comes from the possibility that a cat-borne parasite may cause toxoplasmosis and mental health disorders in humans. But the new study by researchers at the University College London examined 5,000 children in the UK and found no evidence of psychotic experiences in children that had cats, according to a statement from the university.
The findings were published in the journal Psychological Medicine. The reality is we don’t understand much about toxoplasmosis and its possible effects on human psychosis. It certainly has happened and it definitely comes from cats, but that doesn’t mean it’s a significant risk.
“The message for cat owners is clear: there is no evidence that cats pose a risk to children’s mental health,” says lead author Dr Francesca Solmi (UCL Psychiatry). “In our study, initial unadjusted analyses suggested a small link between cat ownership and psychotic symptoms at age 13, but this turned out to be due to other factors. Once we controlled for factors such as household over-crowding and socioeconomic status, the data showed that cats were not to blame. Previous studies reporting links between cat ownership and psychosis simply failed to adequately control for other possible explanations.”