Cat lovers just received some good news about their feline friends. Seems there was a school of thought that believed having cats in the house could lead to mental health issues such as schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder. But a new study claims there is no link between owning a cat and developing mental health problems.
Although you may hold suspicions about your neighbor who feeds the local stray cats, new research has found no link between owning a feline and exhibiting psychotic symptoms. The University College London findings cast doubt on previous research, which suggested that people who grew up with cats are at a higher risk of mental illness.
Cats are a primary host of Toxoplasma Gondii (T. Gondii), which is associated with mental health conditions like schizophrenia. That link led researchers to believe raising children in a household with cats could lead to later development of mental illness.
CBS News quoted the study’s author Dr. Francesca Solmi, of University College London Psychiatry, as saying, “The message for cat owners is clear: There is no evidence that cats pose a risk to children’s mental health.”
The parasite that causes T. Gondi is found in cat feces. So the soiled cat litter in litter boxes was thought to potentially pass the infection on to humans through the feces. USA Today put together a short video on the story. You can watch it by clicking here or on the picture below.
As for why this new research seems to contradict earlier studies on cats and mental health, ScienceDaily.com offers this explanation.
The new study was significantly more reliable than previous research in this area since the team looked at families who were followed up regularly for almost 20 years. This is much more reliable than methods used in previous studies, which asked people with and without mental health problems to remember details about their childhood. Such accounts are more vulnerable to errors in recall which can lead to spurious findings.
Share your thoughts on the new study and whether you believe it should allay any fears about cats causing mental health issues. Generating conversations around the health stories making headlines is another way we are working toward out long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!