We’ve all seen, or a least heard of, that crazy cat lady. But what is it that makes these cat ladies so “crazy?” Is it a lack of human company? Or could there be another reason? Let's find out.
By, 8 Mar 2019
Today's cat ladies are more likely to be seen on Instagram than out on the street screeching at local schoolchildren.
You've seen the accounts. Endless pictures of cats with tags such as Fluffy just loves breakfast time with her mummy. #Catlife #Catmum.
A very quiet problem
Now while we shouldn't scoff at the amazing bond between a cat and its "mum," some research has shown overexposure to cats can lead to an often undiagnosed disease called Toxoplasma, or Toxi for short.
But what's this got to do with that crazy cat lady?
Well, Toxi has been linked to a wide range of mental disorders including schizophrenia. A study in 2012 found that patients suffering from the condition were three times more likely to show signs of having contracted Toxi at some point in their lives.
Toxi is caused by microbes found in cat faeces. This is one of the main reasons why pregnant women are told to avoid cat litter boxes. The microbe is transmitted by a parasite that alters the host's brain chemistry, causing subtle but significant changes in their behaviour which then worsen over time. These include a willingness to engage in risky behaviour, heightened levels of aggression, and paranoia.
Don't panic yet ladies
But don't start panicking just yet cat ladies! A more recent study considered a number of other variables. It then showed that those exposed to cats were at no increased risk of psychosis. Still, I’d put on an extra pair of gloves when cleaning out the kitty tray from now on! And maybe give those hands an extra long scrub!
Spending a lot of time with their feline friends hasn't done any of the following A-listers any harm. Taylor Swift often posts pics of her beloved cat. She’s even said that 'men get her in trouble' so "I go home to the cats."
Other celebs that pull off the cat lady look (minus the crazy) include US singer and actress Mandy Moore and British TV presenter Holly Willougby.
It looks like the myth of the crazy cat lady is another story that needs updating.