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Studies: Cats linked to sudden road rage, mental illnesses

Posted at 4:11 AM, Mar 28, 2016
If you find you don’t have exactly the highest “tolerance” while driving, turns out your beloved cat may be to blame.
Yes, the creature that brings you nothing but joy – and not to mention cuddles – could be at least partially the reason for your angry outbursts.
According to recent studies, owning a cat could lead to just that; more specifically, it could bring on road rage.
That’s because cats are the only known to cause a condition called toxoplasmosis, as they carry a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii.
Researchers set out to discover whether there was a link between toxoplasmosis and unexpected mood swings.
By getting together 358 adult participants, scientists were able to divide the volunteers into three equal groups. In the first group, the control group, none of the members suffered from any kind of psychiatric disorder. 
The second was made of patients diagnosed with some form of mental health issue while the third was made of individuals suffering from IED, or Intermittent explosive disorder.
It was found that the third group had the largest percentage of volunteers infected – 22 percent. The second group, in contrast, had an infection percentage of 16 percent and the first only 9.
But don’t jump to conclusions and consider giving up your feline friend.
“But the researcher wanted to point out the fact that the study only serves to show the existence of a link between the presence of the protozoa and sudden rage outbursts or psychiatric disorders.
One of the setbacks in the study was the fact that the researchers were only able to test for the presence of the protozoa in blood samples. But since toxoplasmosis makes itself cozy in the brain of the host, there is a possibility that infected individuals tested negative.”
Take it with a grain of salt, but it’s worth mentioning that other findings are consistent with linking cats to owners with mental health issues.
For example, exposure to Toxoplasma gondii has been linked to disorders including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The most recent studies out of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine show a strong correlation between exposure to cats in childhood and developing mental disorders later in life.
"Cat ownership in childhood has now been reported in three studies to be significantly more common in families in which the child is later diagnosed with schizophrenia or another serious mental illness," the authors reported in a press release, according to CBS News.
So remember, ladies and gentlemen: Pet and cuddle at your own risk.