A shocking new report by UK animal rights advocates, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), has brought attention to a number of experiments carried out by UK universities. The report details a myriad of disturbing procedures performed on live cats and kittens for the purposes of medical research.
The claims made by the BUAV haven’t been strongly refuted by those involved in the research. Although some of the scientists involved have claimed that the cats were ‘anesthetized fully’ and that these experiments were crucial for mapping out neurological patterns. However, many would be prone to disagree with the methods they used.
The details are graphic (and here is your warning) but not only were cats’ eyes sewn shut as they were immersed in dark rooms to study ‘lazy eye’, but they were also systematically infected with deadly diseases, induced into paralysis and electrodes were inserted into the brains of cats “only lightly anesthetized.” These are just some of the assertions BUAV has made.
They also note that it is unclear how long the cats were tested for. Reared in the lab, they were often left on their own for most of their stay as researchers conducted tests on their respiratory systems and nervous pathways. If some cats were subject to repeat testing before being euthanized, it isn’t known.
Michelle Threw, the CEO of BUAV, has gone on record stating that, “Over the last five years, from 2008 to 2012 inclusive, at least 855 cats were used in 1,304 experiments, with 202 cats used in 2012.”
However, some of the scientists who were involved in the experiments have come forward refuting this statement.
Harry Dayantis, who is the spokesman for the University College London, admitted that experimentation on live cats did take place, but he places the time of these experiments from 1992-2002. He also went on to assure the public that the cats were properly anesthetized during the entire procedure and that they did not feel a thing.
“They were anaesthetized before any work and from their perspective, they simply went to sleep and did not wake up.”
In their statement, they also refute the idea that the dark room immersion for cats was simply for ‘lazy eye.’ Although they admit that it is regrettable that they have to use research on animals, they assert it is one of the best methods to provide cures for the human population:
“The eye research, conducted between 1996 and 2002, produced a number of research papers and findings. The most recently-published finding provided insights into how the retina of the eye communicates with the brain. This will help scientists understand how to minimise the effect of retinal lesions and to develop ways to improve vision including retinal implants and prosthetic retinal devices to enhance the remaining vision.
“The spinal cord research, conducted in 1992, investigated how the brain controls breathing movements. Understanding how this control is normally achieved is essential in developing treatments for spinal cord injury. These specific experiments are particularly important for developing procedures that could re-establish vital functions such as the ability to cough which is lost or severely damaged in spinal cord injury.”
The statement goes on to state that this work on cats has absolutely been discontinued.
However, BUAV remains skeptical, as their own research puts the latest cat experimentations at 2012. Stating that they are against the testing of animals in this way, BUAV has created a petition stating that “cats and dogs are our best friends – and they don’t belong in laboratories.”
However, when testing new drugs, UK law does require them to be tested on two different species of animal, one of which must be larger than a rodent. According to the law, to be granted a license to experiment on animals, the benefits of the research must outweigh the value of the animal. BUAV recognizes that this is law but disagrees anyway, stating that testing on a living thing is never right.