Women who own cats are more likely to have mental health problems and commit suicide because they can be infected by a common parasite that can be caught from cat litter, a study has found.
Researchers found women infected with the Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) parasite, which is spread through contact with cat faeces or eating undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables, are at increased risk of attempting suicide.
The study involved more than 45,000 women in Denmark. About a third of the world’s population is infected with the parasite, which hides in cells in the brain and muscles, often without producing symptoms.
The infection, which is called toxoplasmosis, has been linked to mental illness, such as schizophrenia, and changes in behaviour.
The study’s senior author Doctor Teodor Postolache, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the United States, said: “We can’t say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies.
“We plan to continue our research into this possible connection.”
Here’s another idea: why not do research into a possible correlation between loneliness / unhappiness and suicide?
It’s not like cats and ice cream really fill that gnawing emptiness in their souls; at least, not for all of them.