Bird lovers are right to be concerned with the ecological disaster caused by people letting their cats roam freely. Indeed, most people are unaware that the domestic cat is responsible for a massive decline in song bird populations and partly responsible for the extinction of some species. There is, however, a greater concern which only recently has come to light through research connecting a cat to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and many other mental illnesses.
Some may have heard of toxoplasmosis and its danger to pregnant women. For decades, doctors have cautioned women to not change litter boxes or come in contact with cat feces since the toxoplasmosis parasite can kill unborn children. While a danger to babies, until recently the infection in children and adults generally was assumed to cause more than flu like symptoms.
In 2009, the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences produced strong research indicating that the toxopasmosis parasite causes changes in the brains of many who contract the disease in childhood.
The primary effect being a change in the way the brain processes dopamine. Growing evidence continues to conclude that this disease contributes to or even causes numerous mental disorders.
It is logical that laws be passed to protect children from being exposed to something which can cause devastating mental illness in their adult years.
In my own yard, I regularly find cat feces in the lawn, garden, and under my deck. All places where my son loves to explore. Since research shows that toxoplasmosis can persist in feces for up to a year, even exposure to dried feces can be dangerous for children.
Exposure to cats increases a child’s chances of developing schizophrenia by 400 per cent, according to studies, therefore something must be done.
Given the threat to children and the devastation to bird population, responsible municipalities must pass bylaws prohibiting any free roaming of cats. In the 1960s, dogs were allowed to roam, but concerns over rabies ended roaming.
It’s time to end cat roaming for the sake of birds, but more importantly to lessen the chance children will get a devastating and life-threatening mental illness.