Specialists indicate that owning a cat during childhood does not cause mental illness when you grow older. The study developed by researchers at University College London has debunked the ideas which caused chaos when connecting mental illness with living with cats. The new study was published on February 22 in Psychological Medicine magazine.
- Some previous studies wrongfully categorized cats as the cause of mental illnesses.
- The new study proved that kids who grew up with cats are unlikely to develop mental issues when older.
- Researchers analyzed the state of health of 5,000 children to figure out whether cats are to be blamed.
Scientists indicated that they observed how children who were used to living with pets, especially cats, were not exposed to a high risk of developing psychotic symptoms when they reached adolescence or adulthood. Even if they grew up with cats or a cat was living there before they were born, during pregnancy, these animals indicated to have a beneficial result on their mental health.
Researchers used information collected from 5,000 children who were part of the survey known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. The study recorded the state of health of people born in 1991 and 1992. Specialists analyzed whether those women who had a cat while they were pregnant or when their kid was three years old were more likely to have children who suffered from psychotic episodes, like hallucinations or paranoia, at age 13 up to 18.
Even if most individuals who experience some mental problems in their teenage years might not experience these mental disorders when older, the symptoms usually indicate a high risk for developing such psychotic issues, including depression. The new study is accurate, being extremely relevant since other studies from the past showed a correlation between cat ownership and the development of schizophrenia.
Scientists have pointed out that the one to blame is the parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite was linked to the development of mental health issues. Toxoplasma gondii is a transmittable virus, being spread through the feces of infected cats. Nevertheless, this parasite can also be contracted from eating unwashed vegetables or eating undercooked meat. Combining these, some researchers concluded that cat ownership leads to the development of mental illness.
However, UCL scientists claim that those statements were not reliable, being flawed. They argued that previous studies used some samples, but they did not specify the selection criteria for the participants, without even accounting for alternative explanations. This type of survey can lead to biased information which is spread out even if it is not true.
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