I was shocked to read this morning of the possible link between cat litter and an increased risk of suicide among women. The potential link is supposedly caused by a parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) that is commonly found in the feces of kitty cats. I've always said, the only good cat is a....cat without Toxoplasma gondii. I guess I was right. I mean, who wants to deal with all the headaches that come with cat ownership,huh? I mean, come on America. With all the headaches that come with cat ownership, and now we have research suggesting that owning a cat will make you want to kill yourself? What's it going to take for America to give up their love for the kitty cat?
Published in the July 2nd Archives of General Psychiatry, and titled Toxoplasma gondii Infection and Self-directed Violence in Mothers Toxoplasma Gondii and Self-directed Violence, senior author Teodor Postolache, M.D. et all evaluated their population from a register based prospective cohort study using 45,788 Danish women who gave birth from 1992-1995 and who had a Toxoplasma specific IgG antibody drawn. These women were followed until 2006. The main outcome of the study measured the incident rates of self-directed violence, violent suicide attempts and suicide in relationship to seropositivity and serointensity of the IgG antiobody. The results of the study showed an increased risk (1.53 fold) of self-directed violence in both positivity and intensity of positivity.
So, what does this mean? Should we draw IgG Toxo levels on all mental health patients with self-directed aggression? Should people filing for life insurance be required to list cats as an actuarial risk factor for early death? Should cat ownership increase the life insurance premiums of cat lovers everywhere? Should the beneficiaries of cat owners who commit suicide not be excluded from life insurance payouts if this infection increases the risk of suicidal death? Should pet stores be held liable for the suicidal deaths of women everywhere for selling kitty cats. I don't know the answers to these important questions. I do however, offer an obvious and alternative cause and effect. Women who own a lot of cats are at an increased risk of suicide. When you come to The Happy Hospitalist, you get straight to the chase answers.