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Are Cat Owners More Likely to Commit Suicide?

Can Cats Increase Your Risk of Suicide?
Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

Conventional wisdom holds that keeping a pet can actually improve your health. But a new study suggests that people who own cats may actually be at a higher risk of committing suicide. Ack! Suddenly we’re looking at our kitty in a whole new light.

Researchers in Denmark studied 45,000 women and found that those infected with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which can be transmitted through cat feces, are one-and-a-half more times likely to attempt suicide. In fact, the parasite may be linked to certain types of mental illness.

“We can’t say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies,” said senior author Teodor Postolache. “We plan to continue our research into this possible connection.”

Cats aren’t the only way one can contract the nasty little bug, however. Undercooked meat and unwashed vegetables can transmit the parasite as well. Still, you may want to wear gloves next time you clean the litter box.

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