OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
5:55 PM – Monday, December 4, 2023
A newly conducted review of 17 studies performed by researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, shows that owning a pet cat could potentially double a person’s risk of schizophrenia.
Researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, administered a new review of 17 studies, which concluded that owning a cat is linked to a greater risk of developing schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder that affects how people perceive and interact with reality, usually creating hallucinations, delusions, and social withdrawal.
The research team performed a meta-analysis of prior studies that have been published throughout the past 44 years from 11 different nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
As a result, the team discovered that those who have been exposed to cats before the age of 25 have about twice the risk of developing schizophrenia.
In the report, scientists indicated the connection between cats and schizophrenia is likely due to a parasite regularly found in cats called “Toxoplasma gondii,” also known as T. gondii, which can access the body through a bite.
Scientists stated that the parasite can enter the central nervous system and impact neurotransmitters in the brain, resulting in personality changes, psychotic symptoms, and psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.
However, a U.S. study that was involved in the review, and based on 354 students, did not find any correlation between cat ownership and schizotypy scale scores. However, on a schizophrenic scale, those who were bitten by a cat scored higher than the non-bitten group when individuals who had been bitten by a cat were compared.
A schizotypy scale is a questionnaire used to assess peculiar and disorderly thought patterns in order to help in the diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Another example included one British study that assessed cat exposure during childhood and between the ages of four and 10-years-old. As a result of the study, it was found that childhood behavior was associated with higher psychotic-like experiences at 13 years of age.
Although the exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown, a combination of hereditary factors, aberrant brain chemistry, potential viral infections, and immune system problems are thought to be responsible for the disease.
The connection between owning a cat and developing schizophrenia is still being examined, as other contributing factors like social and economic background and family history also play a role in developing the mental illness.
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