Alyss Bowen | Social Media Editor | Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Your Cat Could Be Harming Your Mental Health. Err WTF?

Your Cat Could Be Harming Your Mental Health. Err WTF?

The Debrief: But don't give away your beloved cat just yet...

I really really love cats, and by love I mean if I owned a cat it would be my everything – sadly I don't because I rent and my landlord doesn't want me to be happy. I'm not alone in being a cat lover too, according to this 2015 statistic 7.4 million of UK pet owners have a feline friend. I'm betting that those 7.4 million owners are pretty shaken up about the news that cats are bad for our mental health, like me – and I don't even have one. 

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, has discovered that people with rage disorder are more than twice as likely to have been exposed to a specific parasite found in cats. The toxoplasmosis parasite can be passed from cats to their human owners via the feces of infected kitties (ew), contaminated water and undercooked meat. It affects warm-blooded animals, including one-third of all humans. Are you freaking out yet, because I am. 

If you’re sat there wondering what the hell this parasite has to do with mental health, it basically means that the toxoplasma gondii parasite can change our brain chemistry in a way that increases the risk of aggressive behavior. What is going on, you ask? How can adorable, feline kittens do this to us? Well, this study of 358 adults proved that those diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder (a metal illness that is linked to explosive outbursts) were more likely to test positive for this parasite. The parasite is typically harmless for healthy adults, however as it lives in the brain tissue it has been linked to psychiatric diseases like schizophrenia, bipolar and suicidal behaviour. 

Obviously this news is pretty terrifying. But before you give your cat to a distant family member, Royce Lee, the study co-author and University of Chicago associate professor believes more research needs to be completed as the 'correlation is not causation, and this is definitely not a sign that people should get rid of their cats.' Panic over, thanks for the clarification Royce. 

Like this? You might also be interested in…

The Most Underrated Cats On Instagram 

Science Says Your Cat Is Trying To Talk To You 

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Follow Alyss on Twitter @alyssbowen 

Tags: Science Says, Animals