The new study looked at nearly 5,000 people in the United Kingdom who were born between 1991 and 1992 and followed them until the age of 18. The researchers used birth information to determine whether households had cats when the mothers were pregnant and when the children were growing up. At ages 13 and 18 years, the children were brought into clinics to be evaluated for psychotic-like symptoms.
After controlling for potential confounding factors, the study concluded that cat ownership in pregnancy and childhood did not play a role in developing psychotic symptoms during adolescence.
“The message for cat owners is clear: there is no evidence that cats pose a risk to children’s mental health,” Solmi said in a news release. “In our study, initial unadjusted analyses suggested a small link between cat ownership and psychotic symptoms at age 13, but this turned out to be due to other factors.”