Cat ownership not linked to mental health problems, study says

Story highlights

  • Researchers say the evidence is clear that there is no risk of psychotic problems from cat ownership
  • The recommendation for pregnant women to handle cat litter with caution remains

(CNN)Studies have suggested that cat ownership could be linked to certain mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, but researchers at University College London say they found no link between cat ownership and the development of psychotic symptoms.

Published in the medical journal Psychological Medicine, the new study is the first to prospectively look at childhood cat ownership and the infection of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii as a risk factor for psychosis.
House cats are known to be the primary host of T. gondii, which infects various warm-blooded animals (including humans) and causes a disease called toxoplasmosis.
    According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 million people in the United States may be infected with the parasite. However, most individuals who develop toxoplasmosis experience few symptoms because their immune systems keep the parasite from causing illness.