Is childhood cat ownership a risk factor for schizophrenia later in life?

Schizophr Res. 2015 Jun;165(1):1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2015.03.036. Epub 2015 Apr 17.


Two previous studies suggested that childhood cat ownership is a possible risk factor for later developing schizophrenia or other serious mental illness. We therefore used an earlier, large NAMI questionnaire to try and replicate this finding. The results were the same, suggesting that cat ownership in childhood is significantly more common in families in which the child later becomes seriously mentally ill. If true, an explanatory mechanism may be Toxoplasma gondii. We urge our colleagues to try and replicate these findings to clarify whether childhood cat ownership is truly a risk factor for later schizophrenia.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Cat contact; Schizophrenia; Toxoplasma gondii; Toxoplasmosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats*
  • Humans
  • Pets*
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology*
  • Schizophrenia / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires