02/06/2015 10:52 BST | Updated 02/06/2015 10:59 BST

Cats Could Be Affecting Your Child's Reading And Memory Skills, New Research Suggests

If your children are cat lovers then apparently you should be wary of the furry friends - or rather some unwanted visitors they may be carrying - affecting their brains, according to new research.

The parasites carried by cats are linked to reduced reading and memory aptitude in children, states a study published in the Journal of Parasitology.

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite grown in the guts of cats that hides in cells in the brain and muscles without producing any symptoms.

Children who tested positive for this parasite, which can be spread through contact with faeces, had poorer reading and memory skills.

cat child

The study was conducted by scientists at the University of Iowa and Florida International University.

They gave children a cognitive test to assess their reading and memory and found that children who tested positive for the parasite, scored lower in the tests.

Toxoplasma gondii can produce a flu-like illness, but in more severe cases, it can go on to form cysts in brain cells.

The authors of the study also said that vitamin E could help reduce the effects of toxoplasma gondii on the brain.

However, they said they would need more longer-term studies to confirm findings.


Infection Passed On By Cat Leaves Woman Blind In One Eye

'Spectacular' Drug Hailed As 'New Era' In Cancer Treatment

The scientists also referred to previous research that found this parasite can alter human behaviour due to the affect it has on the brain.

Aside from cats, other causes of this parasite infection include: undercooked meat, especially lamb, pork and venison, and ingesting water, soil or anything else contaminated by cat faeces.

We suggest you keep children away from the cat's business...

Photo gallery Cats See Gallery