There is not a lot you can say about this that will change people’s minds. I am writing about animal testing in the United Kingdom and people have very fixed views on animal testing. In this case using kittens and cats to gain knowledge through research about “developmental eye disorders” that results in a condition called ‘lazy eye” in humans. Cats are not infrequently used in animal testing for the benefit of people because their anatomy is similar to ours. In this case the eye structure and development of sight is similar, apparently.
Are the lives of 31 kittens and cats worth a bit of knowledge that might help in the treatment of lazy eye? Five kittens had their eyes sewed shut for either 2 or 7 days and in another experiment 11 kittens were raised in total darkness for between 1-12 weeks.
As is commonplace in animal experiments the animals were ‘sacrificed’ after the testing. That is a euphemism for killed. Funny how scientists have their own language to ease the guilt. In the veterinary business veterinarians talk of ‘declawing‘ when they mean removal of the last joint of the toe and cat shelters talk of ‘euthanasia“, another word that is often a substitute for plain killing. It is all about denial and burying the guilt so it does not get in the way of the business.
As you can see from the scales I believe the lives of cats are more valuable (heavier on the scale) than a bit of potential knowledge that might help us. I have indicated that it is not morally right to subject kittens and cats to abusive experiments even if they are anesthetized.
I don’t believe the process is in balance morally. In animal experiments there is a moral trade off between deliberately abusing cats set against potential benefits to humans. It is a sort of moral balancing act.
The trouble for me is that the balancing presupposes that all animals are inferior to the human animal. I don’t happen to believe that and I think that belief is becoming out of date. People are gradually understanding that animals are smarter, feel more and communicate amongst themselves better than we once imagined.
Let’s treat them with more respect. If we want to improve our health let’s do it without experimenting on animals or if we must experiment we should do it on the human animal. That seems fair to me.
Associated page: Animal Testing for Cosmetics.