You may remember the furore over the USDA’s use of cats in animal testing when researching the Toxoplasma gondii infection. They did this over about 50 years and almost 3000 cats were used in the research program.
Need to Euthanize?
We were told at the time that the kittens and cats were euthanized which surprised people because they were adoptable animals.
Since that disclosure the nonprofit animal rights organisation, the White Coat Waste Project, have been seeking further information through a Freedom of Information Act request. The USDA have wrongfully not responded to the request and therefore the White Coat Waste Project are now suing them in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to obtain the information.
Ketamine into the Heart
They have learnt during this process that, according to an ‘animal use protocol form’, the kittens and cats were euthanized with a single shot of ketamine to the heart two weeks after being infected.
Heart Injections Painful
This caught my attention. To the best of my knowledge when a cat or kitten is euthanised at a veterinary clinic they use the two injection method. The first injection is to sedate the animal and then the killing drug, a barbiturate, is administered.
Research indicates that an intracardiac (i.e. into the heart) injection of barbiturates is painful and should never be administered to an animal who has not been anaesthetised or is verifiably unconscious.
Therefore, based on the information before me, I have to conclude that the USDA not only unnecessarily euthanized the cats after they were tested and infected with toxoplasmosis, they were killed in an unacceptable manner which caused them pain and distress.
I have written about this before and if anybody is interested they can click on this link to see the earlier articles. The general view is that the USDA research program on toxoplasmosis using these kittens and cats is unnecessary and outdated.
In defence the USDA would argue that toxoplasmosis is a disease which needs research as it affects more than 40 million people in the United States although nearly all those infected are asymptomatic as I understand it.
Source: Chicago Tribune.