Study Suggests Owning a Cat May Increase Risk of Schizophrenia

A recent study by researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia, suggests that owning a cat may double a person’s risk of developing schizophrenia. 

The study conducted a meta-analysis of existing research from 11 countries and found individuals exposed to cats before the age of 25 had about twice the odds of developing schizophrenia. 

The researchers believe the link is due to a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, also known as T. gondii, which is often found in pet cats and can enter the human body via a bite.

T. gondii can affect neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to personality changes and psychotic symptoms, potentially leading to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. 

While one study found no association between cat ownership and scores on a schizotypy scale, the study found that those bitten by a cat had higher scores on the same scale.

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Schizophrenia Risk Linked to Cat Exposure

study-suggests-owning-cat-may-increase-risk-schizophrenia
A recent study by researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia, suggests that owning a cat may double a person’s risk of developing schizophrenia.

A schizotypy scale is a questionnaire that measures traits of unusual and disorganized patterns of thinking and is used to help diagnose schizophrenia.

However, the study has been criticized by other experts who say it may not account for other potentially contributing factors such as social and economic background and family history. 

One British study included in the meta-analysis found that cat exposure during childhood was associated with higher psychotic-like experiences at age 13 years, but the findings did not persist after adjustment for potential confounding variables.

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. In rare cases, children can also develop schizophrenia. 

Symptoms of schizophrenia usually begin between ages 16 and 30, with around one percent of the world population suffering from the disorder. 

While the cause of schizophrenia is not yet understood, it is believed to be a mix of genetics, abnormalities in brain chemistry, and possible viral infections and immune disorders.

The study’s findings suggest that individuals exposed to cats before the age of 25 are more likely to develop schizophrenia, but it is essential to consider other factors’ influence on the disease’s development. 

It is important to continue researching and studying the potential impact of pet ownership and other environmental factors on mental health and psychiatric disorders.

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