Owning A Cat Doesn't Mean You're Crazy, Says Science

Great, now someone just tell my mom that.

woman holding cat Ulza / Shutterstock

This just in, guys. It turns out that owning a cat and getting toxoplasmosis will NOT make you psychotic and science has finally got the research to prove it. 


I don't remember where I was the first time I heard this ill-founded scientific myth, but it's safe to say that I was probably in my underpants cleaning a litter box and calling my cat "precious little boot-wearing baby." 


In other words, it was just your average day in the life of a woman who is maybe just a tad too invested in the health and happiness of her fur babies. 

I do remember that I wasn't phased. When you're a "crazy cat lady" people love to email studies about how you are more prone to psychosis, and how toxoplasmosis contracted from cat feces can cause a world of hurt. 

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If you love cats, you kind of shrug it off and maybe, at most, put your boyfriend on high alert for any signs that you might be slowly but surely losing your damn mind. 


If you're worried that living with your cat is making you sick, here's what you need to know about toxoplasmosis: 60 million people in the United States may be infected with it. That said, most individuals who develop toxoplasmosis experience basically ZERO symptoms because their immune systems do their damn jobs and keep the parasite from causing illness.

Does this mean that we should let pregnant women scoop cat poop with abandon? No, because toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects in developing fetuses. 

But a 2017 study released in the journal of Psychological Medicine went looking for a link between toxoplasmosis and psychosis and found well, there wasn't really any link between the two. This is good news and bad news for cat lovers like me.

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The good news is that we won't be carted off by the men in white coats anytime soon. The bad news is we can no longer blame our cats for being responsible for driving us to the brink of abject madness. 

Here's the meat of the study for you to forward to all of your friends who have ever sassed you for owning more than one cat:

"The message for cat owners is clear: there is no evidence that cats pose a risk to children's mental health.

In our study, initial unadjusted analyses suggested a small link between cat ownership and psychotic symptoms at age 13, but this turned out to be due to other factors. Once we controlled for factors such as household overcrowding and socioeconomic status, the data showed that cats were not to blame.


Previous studies reporting links between cat ownership and psychosis simply failed to adequately control for other possible explanations."

RELATED: Research Shows That Owning Cats Can, Indeed, Heal You

That's basically as close as science gets to actually saying "my bad, guys". 

While we now have scientific proof that toxoplasmosis is not linked to psychosis, women who own cats still face a wealth of stigmas. But that's not science's fault, it's sexism. 


A woman with cats has "given" up. She doesn't ever plan on getting married or having cats. It's interesting that people say this about women who own cats but not women who own dogs

I'm not SAYING it's directly linked to the idea of witches having cats as familiars, but I'm not saying it's not either. 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer and former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek.