There has been speculation that parasites found in cat feces are linked to depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Many had believed that the parasite was causing children to develop depression – severe depression, linked to suicide – schizophrenia, and other diseases. Pregnant women were advised to stay clear of cat feces, which is why, in 1990, researchers conducted a study[i] to research whether cat feces was indeed linked to any type of mental illness. What they found may surprise you.
Have you heard of Toxoplasma Gondii?
Toxoplasma Gondii (T. Gondii) is a parasite that thrives in cat feces. The parasite is known for producing acute infection. T. Gondii quickly divides and spread throughout the tissues in the human body.
Is it linked to schizophrenia?
The study – done in 1990 – followed 5,000 children to the age of 18. Each child grew up in a home with a cat or cats. The results of the study did not disprove there was a link; however, when the study was conducted, it failed to control for other variables.
While many had suspected that the parasite found in cat feces was linked to depression and schizophrenia, it is important to note that researchers concluded that ownership of a cat is not linked to mental illnesses. However, they do warn about the parasite, and advise that pregnant women and people with a low immune system stay clear of the kitty litter box because, the parasite itself can make you ill.
So, don’t worry – you can keep your cat! But practice good hygiene and get annual physicals. Keep the kitty litter box clean and don’t forget to wash you hands.
For more information about neurological disorders, contact any of the Healthpointe clinics, such as the one in Anaheim by Fullerton, Placentia, Villa Park, Buena Park, Cypress, Cerritos, and Garden Grove.
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[i] Torrey, E. F., & Yolken, R. H. (2003). Toxoplasma gondii and Schizophrenia. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 9(11), 1375-1380. https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid0911.030143.