Study links cat ownership to a doubled risk of schizophrenia

Is your feline friend driving you crazy? A recent study suggests that owning a cat could actually double your risk of developing schizophrenia-related disorders. The study, published in the Schizophrenia Bulletin, analyzed data from over 100 publications spanning four decades and found a link between having a cat and mental illness.

According to the study, people who owned cats before age 25 were about 2.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with a schizophrenia-related disorder compared to those without feline housemates. "We found an association between broadly defined cat ownership and increased odds of developing schizophrenia-related disorders," the authors wrote.

The culprit appears to be Toxoplasma gondii, a sneaky parasite commonly carried by cats that can infect unsuspecting humans. T. gondii forms cysts in the brain and has previously been linked to neurological changes and mental health issues. However, the study doesn't prove that owning a cat directly causes schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is complicated, and a lot of different things — like your genes and your life experiences — can affect whether you develop it. The researchers are just saying that owning a cat might be one of the many things that can increase your risk.