Does this explain that crazy lady in Apt. 5B?


Can your cat make you crazy?

Dr. Fuller Torrey is studying whether a parasite in Fluffy’s droppings causes schizophrenia, a mental illness that strikes 2.2 million Americans and is characterized by hallucinations, delusions and trouble regulating emotions.

The Washington-area psychiatrist has found that people with schizophrenia were more likely to have had pet cats as young children, or their mothers kept the animals during their pregnancies. Torrey is now testing antibiotics against the feline parasite Toxoplasma gondii to treat schizophrenia, according to an article in the December issue of Esquire. “My wife thinks I’m probably ultimately going to be assassinated by [cat lovers],” Torrey told the Daily News yesterday. Still, “Not only cats, but virtually all animals carry transmissible agents, and some carry transmissible agents that have had profound implications for the human race.”

Torrey, president of the Stanley Medical Research Institute, believes that swallowing or breathing parasitic spores from cat waste causes schizophrenia. While hardly conventional wisdom, his theory is part of scientists’ growing interest in the potential environmental influences on the development of mental illnesses, said Dr. Donna Anthony, clinical program director for psychotic disorders at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester.

While today most experts believe that schizophrenia is inherited, some psychiatrists of the past blamed it on a patient’s upbringing.

“I don’t think the cause [from cats] is so direct, but certainly all the research into possible contributions of [infections] before birth and in early childhood bringing out a predisposition to schizophrenia is a productive line of research,” Anthony said.

Torrey advises parents not to buy pet cats for young children, and to cover their sandboxes to prevent cats from using them as litter boxes.

But his theory shouldn’t prompt cat lovers to abandon their furry friends, said Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

“I wouldn’t get rid of my pet just on the basis of this theoretical speculation – unless you are looking for a reason to get rid of it anyway,” Lie-berman said.

1 Comment on Do cats make a girl crazy?

  1. ravyne_hawke says:

    My mother never had cats before my sister and I were born. I think we may have had one cat while she was pregnant with my brother and yeah, he does have similar problems to schizophrenia, but he would never let the doctors test him for it directly. I’ve been diagnosed with Schizotypal (I think that’s how it is spelled), which is similar to Schizophrenia. Could be something to this, but maybe not. Definitely something to think about and research to keep an eye on.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge