Owning a Cat as a Kid Linked to Mental Health Issues, Study Says

cat parasiteAs much as you might love watching your kids playing with the family cat, you might think twice about it after reading this. Scientists believe they may have uncovered a disturbing connection between the felines and mental illness. It turns out cats are common carriers of a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii and more than 60 million people in the U.S. may be infected with it, according to the Centers for Disease Control.



While some of those infected may never experience symptoms, those with weakened immune systems can develop an illness called toxoplasmosis which may be responsible for miscarriages, fetal development disorders, long-lasting flu-like illnesses, blindness and possibly even death.

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What's more, in a recent study, published in Schizophrenia Research, the authors stated that owning a cat during childhood "has now been reported in three studies to be significantly more common in families in which the child is later diagnosed with schizophrenia or another serious mental illness." 

That's pretty frightening, isn't it? Tons of parents want their kids to grow up with a pet but this news is definitely disconcerting. So, what can you do to protect your family if you own a cat?

E. Fuller Torrey of the Stanley Medical Research Institute who has been studying the link between infection with T. gondii and schizophrenia for years told CBS, "Children can be protected by keeping their cat exclusively indoors and always covering the sandbox when not in use."

Changing the cat's litter box daily is advised by the CDC as T. gondii doesn't become infectious for one to five days after it is shed in feces. Also, skip feeding cats raw or undercooked meat.

Good advice to follow in light of these findings!

If you own a cat, do you have any concerns after reading this?


Image © Onishchenko Natalya/shutterstock

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