Cats or dogs are commonly chosen as pets among young people.
A recent review of 17 studies by researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia suggests that owning a cat may increase the risk of schizophrenia. The investigation found affirmative evidence linking cat ownership to a higher susceptibility to schizophrenia. The study's findings raise questions about the potential psychological implications of cat ownership, adding a new dimension to the understanding of mental health risks associated with pets.
To arrive at this conclusion, Australian scientists conducted an analysis of these studies spanning the past 44 years, encompassing data from 11 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
"Our findings support an association between cat exposure and an increased risk of broadly defined schizophrenia-related disorders," the authors wrote in their analysis, published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.
"We found that individuals exposed to cats had approximately twice the odds of developing schizophrenia," wrote the research team.
The comprehensive review of 17 studies has found evidence suggesting a possible connection between exposure to cats and an increased risk of developing schizophrenia-related disorders. However, the findings regarding the potential link between cats and the specific condition of psychotic-like experiences (PLE) are inconclusive. The researchers emphasize the need for additional, high-quality studies to further investigate this complex relationship.
What is schizophrenia?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder. It often runs in families and can cause troubling symptoms. These may include hearing voices and having trouble thinking clearly and relating to others. It often starts suddenly in early adulthood. There is no cure for this illness, but it can be managed with medicine and supportive therapy.