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Feature July 2019 Issue

USDA Ends Decades-Long Cat Experiment After Public Outcry

A decades-long U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) project costing $22 million and the lives of almost 3,000 kittens has ended thanks to public outcry. For 37 years, the government agency has been feeding parasite-laced cat meat bought from Asian meat markets to healthy laboratory cats here in the U.S. in order to research the specific parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. They have then been euthanizing the lab cats when they were no longer needed. The nonprofit watchdog group White Coat Waste Project exposed the experiment, and the USDA has announced its end.

The research has caused such outrage that it has spurred bipartisan legislation to prohibit cats’ participation in such projects. A new bill called the Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act (KITTEN) is making its way through Congress.

The USDA has said that the kittens were euthanized to prevent the spread of the parasite to those who might adopt them. But the American Veterinary Medical Association notes that the disease is treatable and that the kittens could have safely become pets.

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