Your cat is not making you crazy. Children born to pregnant moms who live with cats are not more likely to develop mental illness, according to researchers at University College in London.
“The message for cat owners is clear: there is no evidence that cats pose a risk to children’s mental health,” according to Francesca Solmi, the lead author of the study and a research associate in the Division of Psychiatry at University College London, according the the CNN report.
The study identified 5,000 people in the UK born between 1991 and 1992 whose pregnant mothers lived in households with cats, then followed them until the age of 18. The children were evaluated for psychotic-like symptoms.
Researchers concluded that cat ownership in pregnancy and did not play a role in developing psychotic symptoms during adolescence.
The study, published in the medical journal Psychological Medicine, goes a long way toward putting to rest fears that exposure to cat litter and feces, which can contain the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, poses a danger to cat owners, according to a report by CNN.
Toxoplasmosis can be contracted by ingesting undercooked meat and contaminated water, but it can also through contact with feces containing the parasite.
“Because cats are the primary host of Toxoplasma gondii, it had been suggested that they might put people at increased risk of mental illness, including schizophrenia, by exposing them to T. gondii infection,” Solmi said. “However, some of the studies that have looked at this association had methodologically limitations.”