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Is your cat causing psychotic behaviour?

If you are a cat owner, you have probably heard of Taxoplasma.

Toxoplasma gondii (Toxo for short) has been previously associated with psychotic behaviour in rats.

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan which lives in the stool of these felines. It seems that Taxo travels to rat’s brains which compel the rats towards the cat when the cat urinates.

The same protozoan affects human brain and can affect people whose immune systems are compromised leading to dangerous brain abscesses. Pregnant women are also warned to stay away from cats and not touch kitty litter as the immune system of their unborn child is still not yet which is developed needed to fight Taxo.

Few studies have also shown a link between early childhood cat ownership and the development of schizophrenia in later years, caused by Taxo infection.

It seems that Taxo contains an enzyme that creates dopamine, a neuro transmitter and excess dopamine is also found in schizophrenia.

All this, can put a scare into anyone especially those with young children around cats.

But a new study, suggests that you don’t have to worry when it comes to cats.

Researchers from the University College in London examined 6705 adolescents age 13 years old, and 4676 young adults, age 18 years old, to investigate if cat ownership in pregnancy and childhood (age 4 and 10 years) was associated with psychotic episodes.

They examined data from semi-structured interviews of the participants and used logistic regression to study these associations.

But the researchers warned that pregnant women must continue to not handle cat litter due to Taxoplasma exposure and infection.

In this largest and best controlled study to date, the findings suggest no association between cat ownership at pregnancy and psychotic experiences at age 13 or at 18 years. After adjusting for various variables such as ethnicity, social class and dog ownership – to control exposure to animal stool, the scientists found that cat ownership at age 4 and 10 was not associated with psychosis at 13  or at 18 years of age.

But the researchers warned that pregnant women must continue to not handle cat litter due to Taxo exposure and infection.

However, the study strongly indicates that cat ownership in pregnancy and early childhood does not produce a risk of psychotic experiences later in life.

Now that’s a relief! You cant blame you cat for any erratic behaviour.

Although for personal health issues it is wise to be careful when you handle cat litter or do some gardening in the same spot your feline pet has deposited it’s poo.

Source: Psychological Medicine

Meena Azzollini

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!

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