In the past, scientists have pinpointed cats, or cat litter, as the main reason for schizophrenia. They think that having pet cats might increase a kid's risk of developing schizophrenia. However, a growing field of research which focuses on the links between owning a cat and mental health disorders have found that there is no such link.
Initially thought to be the culprit for schizophrenia, the cat-borne parasite that causes toxoplasmosis have previously gained attention, making scientists warn pregnant women to stay away from cat poo. Now, a new study of about 5,000 children in Britain finds no evidence that cat ownership during gestation or childhood is associated with psychotic experiences. The study, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, is the latest research that have debunked previously held beliefs that are based on correlations, but not concrete conclusions, about cats making people crazy.
Researchers are now saying that cat ownership does not cause schizophrenia. "Our findings should reassure people that owning a cat in pregnancy or childhood is not related to later risk of psychotic symptoms," co-author James Kirkbride, a psychiatric epidemiologist at University College London, says. The infectious bacteria that has been thought to cause the mental health disorder, Toxoplasma gondii, is hardly well understood, the Daily Journal reports.
In the 1970s, when psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey looked into previously published research, he found studies that show schizophrenics had higher toxoplasma antibody levels than people without the mental illness. The theory about schizophrenia-causing cats stuck. Plenty of past researchers even support it, the Wired reports.
However, establishing cat poop as the source for schizophrenia is incredibly difficult. The disease rarely has been reported, and scientists still don’t know a lot about its biological, or genetic, roots. Therefore, you can keep your cat and stop worrying if it can make others go crazy.