Cat Ownership Linked to Increased Schizophrenia Risk

Summary: Researchers systematically reviewed and meta-analyzed research from 1980 to 2023 to investigate the relationship between cat ownership and schizophrenia-related disorders. Out of 1915 studies initially identified, 17 were included in the final analysis.

The results showed a significant association, with cat owners having higher odds of developing schizophrenia-related disorders; the unadjusted pooled odds ratio was 2.35, and the adjusted was 2.24.

However, the link between cat ownership and psychotic-like experiences (PLE) remained unclear due to varied measurement methods.

Key Facts:

  1. The study covered a broad timeframe (1980–2023) and included a variety of sources, resulting in a comprehensive analysis of 17 relevant studies.
  2. There was a notable association found between cat ownership and an increased risk of schizophrenia-related disorders, with significant odds ratios both before and after adjustment for covariates.
  3. The connection between cat ownership and PLE was inconclusive, highlighting the need for further research with more standardized measures.

Source: Neuroscience News

The intricate relationship between pet ownership and mental health has long been a subject of interest in psychiatric research. Recently, the focus has turned towards the potential impact of cat ownership on the development of schizophrenia and similar disorders.

A new study aimed to systematically review and meta-analyze the available literature to elucidate the association between cat ownership and the risk of schizophrenia-related outcomes, including psychotic-like experiences (PLE).

In a thorough and methodical approach, the research spanned an extensive period, from January 1, 1980, to May 30, 2023, encompassing a wide range of sources such as Medline, Embase, CINAHL, and Web of Science, along with gray literature.

The team employed backward citation search methods to ensure a comprehensive collection of relevant studies. Criteria for inclusion in the analysis were stringent, focusing on studies presenting original data correlating cat ownership with schizophrenia-related outcomes.

The methodology embraced a broad definition of cat exposure, including ownership, bites, and general contact. Statistical analysis involved meta-analyzing these estimates, both adjusted and unadjusted for covariates, using random-effects models.

Additionally, the study rigorously assessed the risk of bias, heterogeneity, and overall quality of the included research.

From an initial pool of 1915 studies, rigorous selection criteria narrowed it down to 106 for full-text review, eventually culminating in 17 studies deemed suitable for inclusion. The analysis revealed a significant association between cat ownership and an increased likelihood of developing schizophrenia-related disorders.

The findings were striking, with the unadjusted pooled odds ratio (OR) standing at 2.35 (95% CI: 1.38–4.01), while the figure slightly adjusted to 2.24 (95% CI: 1.61–3.12) when accounting for various covariates.

However, the relationship between cat ownership and PLE outcomes remained inconclusive, largely due to the diverse range of measures employed across studies.

This extensive review and meta-analysis provide compelling evidence supporting a link between cat exposure and an elevated risk of schizophrenia-related disorders.

Nonetheless, the data regarding PLE outcomes remain inconclusive, signaling a need for further research in this area.

The findings underscore the importance of understanding environmental and lifestyle factors in mental health, particularly as they pertain to common aspects of daily life such as pet ownership.

Moving forward, there is a critical need for more high-quality, nuanced studies to explore these associations in greater depth, potentially leading to improved understanding and management of schizophrenia and related conditions.

About this schizophrenia research news

Author: Neuroscience News Communications
Source: Neuroscience News
Contact: Neuroscience News Communications – Neuroscience News
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: Closed access.
Cat Ownership and Schizophrenia-Related Disorders and Psychotic-Like Experiences: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” by John J McGrath et al. Schizophrenia Bulletin


Abstract

Cat Ownership and Schizophrenia-Related Disorders and Psychotic-Like Experiences: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Background

It has been proposed that cat ownership may be a risk-modifying factor for schizophrenia-related disorders and psychotic-like experiences (PLE). This study aimed to systematically review and meta-analyze publications that reported the relationship between cat ownership and schizophrenia-related outcomes.

Methodology

We searched Medline, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, and gray literature for publications between January 1, 1980, and May 30, 2023, regardless of geographical location and language. Backward citation search methods were used to locate additional articles. We included studies that reported original data on cat ownership and schizophrenia-related outcomes. We meta-analyzed estimates based on broad definitions (cat ownership, cat bites, and cat contact) with estimates with or without covariate adjustments. We pooled comparable estimates using random-effects models and assessed the risk of bias, heterogeneity, and study quality.

Results

We identified 1915 studies, of which 106 were chosen for full-text review, ultimately resulting in the inclusion of 17 studies. We found an association between broadly defined cat ownership and increased odds of developing schizophrenia-related disorders. The unadjusted pooled odds ratio (OR) was 2.35 (95% CI: 1.38–4.01), while the adjusted pooled estimate was 2.24 (95% CI: 1.61–3.12). We were unable to aggregate the estimates for the PLE outcomes because of the broad range of measures.

Conclusions

Our findings support an association between cat exposure and 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.

PROSPERO registration

PROSPERO 2023 CRD42023426974. Available from: https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php?ID=CRD42023426974

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