It may seem unfathomable that such a “research program” even existed, but now it is finally coming to an end. Tuesday, The U.S. Agriculture Department announced it is discontinuing its practice of infecting kittens with parasites for research purposes.
“The department’s Agricultural Research Service had been using kittens to conduct research on the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. According to the department, the parasite ’causes toxoplasmosis, a disease considered to be a leading cause of death from foodborne illness in the United States, especially for individuals with weak immune systems such as children and HIV patients.'”
After the experiments were conducted, the parasite-infected kittens would be put down. Thousands of cats were killed over the course the decades’ long, taxpayer-funded research program. As if this wasn’t horrible enough, it was recently uncovered that the USDA’s researchers also forced the lab cats to eat dog and cat meat obtained in overseas markets.
This move to end the research program came as a result of widespread attention brought to the controversial program by nonprofit group White Coat Waste Project, which “resulted in bipartisan legislation to ban animal testing by the USDA. In May, Reps. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., and Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., introduced a bill called the ‘Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act of 2018,’ also known as the KITTEN Act, to stop the USDA from using cats and kittens in experiments. That was followed in December by a Senate version of the bill, introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.”
What will happen to the kittens?
The USDA stopped infecting kittens in September, and there were only 14 uninfected cats left in the program, which will be put up for adoption by agency employees. We are happy these kittens will be placed in loving homes!