Unleash the kittens!

The United States Department of Agriculture's Lab for Research in Beltsville, Maryland, has stated that they will be stopping the use of felines in their research.

The facility stopped infecting the cats involved in the research o toxoplasmosis (a food-borne illness) in September of 2018. The cats will no longer be fed the infected food or euthanized, and the 14 cats that had not yet been infected will be put up for adoption.


The Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Courtesy of USDA

Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the USDA Agricultural Research Service administrator, stated, "Food safety research in ARS is of paramount importance for agriculture and the public we serve ... We are continually assessing our research and priorities and aligning our resources to the problems of highest national priority. We are excited for the next chapter of work for these scientists and this laboratory."

The USDA has made great strides to keep humans safe and healthy when it comes to food-borne illnesses. It is amazing that they are able to broaden that while avoiding putting animal lives at stake. Even though it could be seen as a sacrifice for the greater good, there must be a more animal-friendly way to help humanity.

More than 3,000 cats are estimated to have been killed through this specific USDA research since 1982. This is not only a kitten-saving issue, however. The program has cost taxpayers approximately $22 million.

After receiving backlash regarding their use of cats since May of 2018, USDA officials reviewed their research process and decided that the research while using cats as subjects has plateaued, even though there is still more to discover. Although they have not figured out everything there is to know about how toxoplasmosis affects the human body, they will find new and innovative ways to study it. 

What do you think? Are you happy that the USDA has stopped this practice? Are you looking to adopt one of the cats? Tell us in the comments.