The Force of the Horse

No more ‘Kitten Slaughterhouse’: Government halts deadly cat experiments

By Dareh Gregorian as published on NBC News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it was ending the testing — which included feeding cats to other cats — effective immediately.

Hannah Shaw, an animal advocate known as “Kitten Lady,” attends an event in Rayburn Building on bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., and Mike Bishop, R-Mich., to end the Department of Agriculture’s scientific testing on kittens on June 7, 2018.Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP file

Government scientists announced Tuesday that they’re pulling the plug on a research program that’s resulted in the deaths of thousands of cats.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Services lab had been infecting cats with toxoplasmosis and then euthanizing them since 1982 as part of its effort to combat the foodborne illness.

The USDA’s announcement comes two weeks after NBC News reported on a study that found ARS scientists had bought hundreds of dogs and cats from “Asian meat markets” and then had them euthanized and fed to healthy cats at their Maryland lab.

In its statement, the USDA said its “toxoplasmosis research has been redirected and the use of cats as part of any research protocol in any ARS laboratory has been discontinued and will not be reinstated.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who’d called the experiments “deeply disturbing,” said the agency “made the right decision today, and I applaud them for their willingness to change course. It’s a good day for our four-legged friends across America.”

The authors of the “USDA Kitten Cannibalism” study, the nonprofit White Coat Waste Project, said the gruesome experiments showed the agency had gone far astray from its mission of keeping the U.S. food supply safe.

In its statement, the USDA did not mention the “cat cannibalism” experiments, but it did say that “ARS toxoplasmosis research has reached its maturity and ARS considers the project’s objectives for agriculture achieved. While there is still additional research needed in this area regarding human health, this research area is outside of USDA’s stated mission.”

ARS Administrator Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young said, “We are excited for the next chapter of work for these scientists and this laboratory.”

The agency said no cats have been infected with toxoplasmosis pathogens or euthanized since September 2018, and that the 14 healthy cats they still have at the facility are in the process of being adopted by USDA employees.

Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., who’d been pushing legislation aimed at ending the experiments called the Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act, said, “I commend the USDA for their decision to end this type of testing on kittens. They listened to the people and responded appropriately to our concerns. This is how our institutions, our government, and our democracy should and must work.”

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., lead co-sponsor of the KITTEN Act, said, “With all the awful reports coming out, it was clear that Americans opposed USDA’s cruel testing on kittens. This is a decisive victory against government animal abuse and wasteful spending.”

Anthony Bellotti, the founder of the White Coat Waste Project, which combats wasteful government spending on animal testing and had waged a year-long campaign against the cat experiments, called the move “a historic victory for taxpayers and animals.”

“After 3,000-plus kittens killed and $22 million squandered, we applaud the USDA for its wise decision to permanently end its taxpayer-funded kitten experiments and adopt out the survivors,” Bellotti said, adding that he was “elated” that “the USDA’s kitten slaughterhouse has finally been relegated to the litterbox of history.”

4 replies »

  1. Well, this is significant news for the innocent cats & kittens! Hopefully, all of our other precious creatures on earth, will be saved also from these cruel, experiments & other government attempts to eliminate wildlife to the point of extinction. Our Wild Horses & Burros included, amongst many others that suffer on a daily basis at the hands of man. What century is this?? But it is a start, to possibly hope for compassion for those who depend on us to be their VOICE!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am HAPPY that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has finally found the alternatives to animal testing.

    “Those alternatives include sophisticated tests using human cells and tissues (also known as in vitro methods), advanced computer-modeling techniques (often referred to as in silico models), and studies with human volunteers.

    This is a decisive victory against government animal abuse and wasteful spending.”

    It is hoped that more governmental departments across the world will also WAKE UP and “DISCOVER” those already established alternatives to animal testing.

    Thank you to ALL who worked to end these “cat cannibalism” experiments.

    Thank you also to the U.S. Deprtment of Agriculture who agreed to suspend their “activities” done to animals.


  3. This has only been stopped because of pressure and information being brought out to the public. Watch out for Lab Gag laws. Anything that has to be done behind closed doors shouldn’t be done at all.


  4. University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
    California Facility Reports and Information – Resources and Links From SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now
    Table of Contents
    Media Coverage:

    Allegations That UC Davis Negligence Kills Two More Animals – 4 Sep 2018
    Guinea pig, rabbit deaths at UC Davis research labs draw criticism – 4 Sep 2018
    Animal Rights Group Criticizes UC Davis Animal Deaths – 4 Sep 2018
    UCD settles animal welfare citation – 26 Apr 2018
    UCD Admits It Has Paid $5,000 Federal Fine for Killing Animal – 23 Apr 2018
    Animal deaths, injuries at UCD labs focus of complaint – 23 Apr 2018
    UC Davis faces inspections, negligence allegations by USDA – 13 Nov 2016
    UC Davis Primate Center under fire after death of monkey – 3 Nov 2016
    ‘The stuff of nightmares’: US primate research centers investigated for abuses – 28 Oct 2016
    Macaque, rabbit die in UCD research labs – 14 Oct 2016
    UC Davis to review animal care after USDA finds research violations – 14 Oct 2016
    UC Davis under investigation for lab animal deaths – 13 Oct 2016
    USDA looks into animal injuries, deaths at UCD – 26 Jun 2016
    UC Davis Primate Research Center searches for new PR firm 3 Jan 2016
    Monkey at UCD Primate Center suffers broken leg 21 May 2015
    Protesters gather at Primate Center 27 Jul 2014
    Primate research centers, including UC Davis facility, face pressure to close 17 Jul 2014


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