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There were rumours that cats carried a parasite that could affect the brain and make people susceptible to psychosis, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

But cat-lovers, you can relax. Science has just proven this to be false.

It was feared cats are the host for the parasite Toxoplasma Gondii, which is linked to mental health problems.

But researchers from University College London said their message was clear: there is no evidence cats pose a risk to children’s mental health.

They looked at 5,000 people who had cats as family pets in the 1990s – along with a few flannel shirts and turtlenecks, probably.

Senior author of the study, Dr James Kirkbride, said:

Our study suggests that cat ownership during pregnancy or in early childhood does not pose a direct risk for later psychotic symptoms.

However, there is good evidence that T. Gondii exposure during pregnancy can lead to serious birth defects and other health problems in children.

As such, we recommend that pregnant women should continue to follow advice not to handle soiled cat litter in case it contains T. Gondii.

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