Tuesday 23 April 2024

NO CAUSAL LINK PROVEN that cats cause schizophrenia

As is usual, the news media has been all over a study from Australia about the possible connection between owning a domestic cat and developing schizophrenia. But the news media have misrepresented the study. And let's be clear, the study simply reviewed other studies. It did not start from scratch. The study is about the possible transmission of T. gondii oocysts from cats to humans. 

For example, Metro has the headline, "A pet cat could double your chances of schizophrenia"

Another headline states, "Study finds link between cats and schizophrenia is real". That is a highly misleading headline. That's my personal view and I think it is a fair one. I've looked at the study rather than read the news media stories about it.

The study is called: Cat Ownership and Schizophrenia-Related Disorders and Psychotic-Like Experiences: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Link: https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbad168

As I said the study comes from Australia where their relationship between domestic and feral cats and Australians is somewhat strained.  The feral cat has been denigrated and is mercilessly slaughtered at any opportunity on that continent. That's the background to the study. 

The point I am making and alleging is that the Australian authorities like to denigrate the cat in general. They want owners to keep their cats indoors full-time. They want to blame the cat for wiping out their native species.

This study does not prove a causal link between domestic cat ownership and the cat owner developing schizophrenia. That point needs to be stressed very strongly. ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ™„

On my reading of the study the scientists found an association between increased odds of developing schizophrenia and cat ownership. In their words, "We found an association between broadly defined cat ownership and increased odds of developing schizophrenia-related disorders."

"An association" is not a causal link. This does not establish that domestic cats give people schizophrenia. In fact they more or less state that in their study conclusions. This is their conclusion:
Our findings provide support for the hypothesis that cat exposure is associated with an increased risk of broadly defined schizophrenia-related disorders; however, the findings related to PLE as an outcome are mixed. There is a need for more high-quality studies in this field. - Conclusions of the study in the words of the scientists conducting it.
They refer to an hypothesis that cat exposure is associated with increased risk of developing schizophrenia. The word hypothesis means "a supposition your proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation." This hypothesis has been repeated in other earlier studies from Australia. But no proof. To say they have a hypothesis is an admission that they don't have the proof.

That says it all. This study proposes that there might be some sort of link between domestic cats and an increased incidence of being in cat owners. It is making a suggestion. It's a proposal. No more. Clearly not a causal link.

News media needs to really report more accurately on this and get to the bottom of it. They tend to repeat what other news media outlets say leading to the same headline and the same misrepresentation of a study throughout the news media community.

This is unhelpful for domestic cat welfare. This website is concerned about domestic cat welfare which is why I have reported on this study as a countermeasure.

Four distinguished veterinarians say this about toxoplasmosis: "Evidence strongly suggest that cats and people can also get the disease from eating raw or undercooked pork, beef, mutton or veal or unpasteurised dairy products that contains toxoplasma organisms.... Almost half the human adult population shows serological evidence of having been exposed in the past [to toxoplasmosis]."


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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