New research brings some good news for cat lovers. Contrary to previous claims, researchers have found no link between cat ownership in childhood and increased risk of mental illness. Lead study author Dr. Francesca Solmi, of the Division of Psychiatry at University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Psychological Medicine. Cats are among the most popular pets in the United States, with more than 30 percent of households owning at least one feline friend. As well as being beloved companions, studies have shown that cats and other pets can benefit mental health, helping to reduce anxiety and stress and improve overall psychological well-being. Some research, however, has suggested the opposite. One study reported by Medical News Today in 2015, for example, associated cat ownership in childhood with increased risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions in later life. But according to Dr. Solmi and colleagues, there is insufficient evidence to suggest this is the case. The previously reported link between childhood cat ownership and mental health disorders has been attributed to Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that cats shed in their feces. Coming into contact with cat feces… Read full this story
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