Pet Theory: Do Cats Cause Schizophrenia?


| January 8, 2001

Pet Theory: Do Cats Cause Schizophrenia? Stephen Mihm, Lingua Franca
'I think cats are great,' says E. Fuller Torrey. But Torrey is not your typical cat lover, writes Stephen Mihm in Lingua Franca. This Maryland psychiatry professor and mental health researcher believes that Felis domestica may carry infectious diseases that could cause schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 'Torrey often speaks in a self-deprecating manner of his 'delusional' notions,' Mihm writes. 'But he's dead serious about the cat connection. He thinks 'typhoid tabbies' are passing along Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that causes brain lesions and, if Torrey is right, schizophrenia.' When Torrey first proposed the idea, more than 30 years ago, he was considered a crackpot. But an evolution in scientific thinking about infectious diseases may prove him right. 'My wife thinks I'm going to be assassinated by cat owners,' he sighs.
--Leif Utne
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