Depressed? Blame It On Your Cat

Beware My Bite!

I’ve never liked cats. I know this is an unpopular point of view, but the heart wants what the heart wants. And this heart wants everything of the feline persuasion to stay away from her. It’s the allergies, but also, I just don’t like the way they look at me. Should you want to join me in the pursuit of catless-ness, you might be interested to know that new research published in the PLOS ONE journal discovered a link between cat bites and depression.

In a study of 1.3 million people over the course of a decade, researchers found that there was a strong correlation between those who  sought treatment for a cat bite and those sought treatment for depression. Although I hate to fuel the crazy cat lady trope, I should probably mention that a whopping 86 percent of those suffering from both a cat bite and depression were women. That means that about one half of female cat owners who’ve been bitten by a feline will become depressed. Help! I’m picturing a bad horror film featuring a bunch of feral cats and depressed women with festering bite wounds. Frightening, but why? Researchers have a few possible explanations.

Which came first the cat or the depression? It’s hard to say, scientists explain. Because having a cat as a pet has been shown to improve mood, which means it’s more likely that a depressed woman would own a cat for companionship. And because cat owners are more likely to be bitten than non-owners, that makes female cat owners the highest risk population for both afflictions. Researchers also theorize that cats may bite depressed owners more frequently as a reaction to their mental state because some animals “may bite more in response to changes in their owners’ mental state or level of responsiveness.” Last but certainly not least is the parasite theory. T. gondii, carried by cats and transmitted through their feces, can cause changes in the human brain. Infections from the parasite has been linked to increased self-harm, elevated suicide rates in women and depression.

So yeah, cats. Not so great. [Popular Science]

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