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HomeLifestyleFitness & HealthExploring the Relationship Between Cat Ownership and Schizophrenia: A Critical Analysis of...

Exploring the Relationship Between Cat Ownership and Schizophrenia: A Critical Analysis of Existing Studies

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A new research found that cat parents are at stake of schizophrenia-related conditions. Here’s all that you need to know.

Having Ownership of a cat can double the risk of schizophrenia-related disorders as articulated by the research published by Schizophrenia Journal. The connection between cat ownership and the mental disorder dates back to a 1995 study attributing the risk to exposure to the parasite Toxoplasma gondii transmitted through undercooked meat. While some subsequent research supported this theory, others did not agree to this fact and hence a conclusive link between owning a cat and schizophrenia could not be established. 

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder characterized by disturbances in a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviour. People with schizophrenia often experience a range of symptoms that can be categorized into positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms. It’s important to note that schizophrenia is a complex and multifaceted condition, and symptoms can vary widely among individuals.

Positive symptoms:

  • Hallucinations: Perceptions without an external stimulus, such as hearing voices or seeing things others do not.
  • Delusions: False beliefs that are resistant to reasoning or contrary to reality.

Negative symptoms:

  • Affective flattening: Limited emotional expression.
  • Alogia: Reduced speech output.
  • Anhedonia: Reduced ability to experience pleasure.
  • Avolition: Decreased motivation to initiate and sustain purposeful activities.

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Impaired executive function: Difficulty with planning, organizing, and initiating tasks.
  • Attention deficits: Difficulty concentrating and focusing.

How cat parasites may cause psychotic symptoms

Toxoplasma gondii can get into the central nervous system and influence neurotransmitters causing personality changes, and neurological disorders like schizophrenia.

Connection between schizophrenia and time spent with cats in childhood

Studies also found that being around cats during childhood might can make a person more likely to develop schizophrenia symptoms. However, this was not supported by all studies.

The new analysis of 17 studies found that there was a substantial positive association between cat ownership and an increased risk of schizophrenia-related disorders.

People exposed to cats have twice the risk of schizophrenia

After adjusting for covariates the research found that individuals exposed to cats had approximately twice the odds of developing schizophrenia, as per the team of researchers.

The researchers concluded that additional high-quality, large-scale studies are necessary to better comprehend the potential role of cat ownership as a risk factor for mental disorders.

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