Cats and Suicide Risk – What is the Tie?

mental healthIt may not be a bad idea to keep your eye on the cat lady who lives next to you, or pay a little extra attention if you have a pet of your own. New science is showing that women who own cats are considerably more likely to be at risk for suicide, and notice varying degrees of mental health deterioration.  The reasoning behind this is due specifically with a common cat parasite that can be transferable via cat litter, which can lead to altered personality and lowered mental health, and perhaps even suicide.

Experts are saying that women who are infected Toxoplasma gondii, which can be seen taking residence in cat litter boxes, may suffer mental illness which can lead to an increased risk of suicide. This information comes from a new study out of Denmark that involved more than 45, 000 Danish women was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The Mental Health Study on Cat Litter Poisons


The study has shown that the parasite, which is carried via cat feces, has also been seen traditionally in undercooked meat and vegetables that haven’t been washed properly.

There have been many other studies that have shown the dangers of cat litter with pregnant women, however this is one of the first times, a normal cat-owner has been targeted as the source of such an interesting study.  Researchers found that women infected by T. gondii were one and a half times more likely attempt suicide, and show mental decline that those not affected. What was likely even more shocking, was that the women in question were more likely to use methods of suicide that were considerably more violent (using a sharp object, or even a gun).

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Increased Suicide Risk – A Scary Thought

Researchers say that the suicide risk increased with the levels of T. gondii antibodies found, but were also quick to say that they were unwilling to make a direct tie between the antibodies and the risk of suicide, or declining mental health. The researchers did say that the fact that there was a tie at all warrants further studies due to the sheer numbers of pet owners in the world.

The taboo subject is actually considered to be gaining momentum when it comes to awareness, the National Institutes of Health say that the risk factors for suicide as a mental health problem are extensive. They can include depression, mental health issues and substance abuse, family violence and abuse as well as a family history of violence.