Toxoplasma gondii

New Study Finds No Link Between Childhood Cat Ownership and Psychosis

Cats can be manipulative. There’s no doubt about that. But are they controlling our minds with their poop? Probably not. Contrary to prior reports, a new study published in the journal Psychological Medicine found that living with a cat in early life did not increase subjects’ risk of psychotic episodes in adolescence.

The premise behind the original idea is less improbable than it sounds. Cats are the host of choice for Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that has been shown to cause dramatic behavior changes in rodents. (Mice infected with T. gondii lose their fear of cats and become downright friendly, which leads to them getting eaten, which buys the parasite a ticket into its favorite feline hangout.) A few controversial studies have linked cat ownership with schizophrenia and psychotic episodes, but many researchers remain skeptical.

Psychiatrist Francesca Solmi and her co-authors are among those skeptics. They decided to put the…