Mothers, Suicide and Cats

Post date: 08-Jul-2012 16:01:55

suicide pregnancy cats

Suicide Attempts in Mothers with Cat Parasite Infection

Mothers with the cat parasite Toxoplasmosis gondi infection are at risk for suicide attempts post partum.

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that infects the brain affecting approximately one-third of people worldwide. Cats have been identified as the primary source of T gondii. Humans are infected by ingestion of T gondii from feces of infected cats (eg, contaminated sandbox, eating unwashed vegetables). The ingested parasite spreads from the intestine to the brain. There the parasite hides within neurons and glial cells of multiple brain structures, including the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. These areas play a leading role in emotional and behavioral regulation. T gondii infection disrupts modulation of mood and behavior and thus elevates risk of suicide.

What to do if you are pregnant and have a cat

    1. Wear gloves when gardening and during any contact with soil or sand because cat waste might be in soil or sand. After gardening or contact with soil or sand, wash hands thoroughly.

    2. Avoid changing cat litter if possible. If no one else is available to change the cat litter, use gloves, then wash hands thoroughly.

    3. Change the litter box daily because Toxoplasma requires several days to become infectious.

    4. Keep your cat inside and do not adopt or handle stray cats.

    5. Cats should be fed only canned or dried commercial food or well-cooked table food, not raw or undercooked meats.

Suicide attempts are more likely in mothers infected with the cat parasite, Toxoplasmosis gondii. The risk increases with increasing titres of the infection at the time of delivery.


  1. Marianne G. Pedersen, MSc; Preben Bo Mortensen, DrMedSc; Bent Norgaard-Pedersen, DrMedSc; Teodor T. Postolache. Toxoplasma gondii Infection and Self-directed Violence in Mothers. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012;():1-8. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2012.668 Published online July 2012

    1. Adriana Lopez, Vance J. Dietz, Marianna Wilson, Thomas R. Navin, Jeffrey L. Jones. Preventing Congenital Toxoplasmosis. MMWR. Reccommendations and Reports. March 31, 2000 / 49(RR02);57-75