Owning a cat does not cause mental illness

Within the past few years, there have been claims floating around the internet saying that it has been scientifically proven that growing up with cats can lead to mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. These claims were probably making every crazy cat lady in the world think that maybe it was their cats making them crazy and not all of the loneliness. Despite these earlier studies linking cats to mental illnesses, new research from University College London suggests that living with a cat during one’s childhood does not cause mental illness later in life.

After using data from over five thousand children, the researchers concluded that cats likely have no bearing on a person’s mental health. This news comes after recent studies claimed that there is a link between owning a cat and schizophrenia, which alarmed many cat owners around the world. Luckily for them, scientists are saying that those studies were seriously flawed. However, there may still be some truth to these studies, as a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii, which can be transmitted through cat feces, uncooked meat, and unwashed vegetables, has been linked to mental health problems. House cats are known to be the primary host of the parasite, and it is even estimated that over sixty-million Americans are infected with the parasite, but the immune system prevents most people from getting sick from the disease. Although Toxoplasma gondii still poses a danger, especially to those who are pregnant or have weak immune systems, cases of the parasite causing illness in humans are quite rare.  A combination of flawed studies and more recent awareness of Toxoplasma gondii have led to outrageous and false claims of growing up with a cat causing mental illness in humans.

If you are a cat owner who is worried about waking up one day with schizophrenia, I think it’s safe to say that you have no need to worry as your cat won’t be giving you a mental illness any time soon. Previous researchers claiming that there is a definite link between growing up with cats and mental illness left out many factors and jumped to conclusions. There is no real evidence to suggest that living with cats can negatively impact someone’s mental health; however, that would explain why most people with an absurd amount of cats seem to have completely lost their minds, but hey, I don’t judge.

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