Watchdog: USDA Carried Out 'Cannibal Cat' Experiments

Lawmakers want experiments—including dog remains being fed to cats—to end
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2019 10:05 AM CDT
Watchdog: USDA Carried Out 'Cannibal Cat' Experiments
The Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Government scientists have fed dog remains to cats, injected cat remains into mice, and conducted other experiments on animals that one member of Congress says "need to end now." The White Coat Waste Project, a nonprofit watchdog, drew the information from USDA publications for a report it plans to give to Congress, NBC News reports. The group found the experiments to be pointless. "It's crazy," a former USDA scientist says. "Cannibal cats, cats eating dogs—I don't see the logic." The experiments were carried out at the Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Maryland. Experiments there in which cats were intentionally infected with T. gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, killing the cats, had already drawn criticism. "The details of these kitten experiments keep getting worse," says Florida's GOP Rep. Brian Mast, who has co-sponsored a bill to stop those experiments.

The USDA's job is to protect the food supply, the ex-USDA scientist notes, but cats and dogs aren't part of the food chain here. Its reports say the idea was to study various forms of a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. Per lab publications, the dogs and cats were killed in Asia, South America, and Africa; tissues from the animals were then sent to the USDA lab. Some of the animals had been purchased from markets that were condemned in a House resolution last year, per the Washington Post. That resolution called for other countries to ban the consumption of animals commonly kept as pets in the US. "DEEPLY disturbing that USDA has been purchasing cats and dogs from notoriously inhumane meat markets in Asia, then feeding the meat to animals they're experimenting on," Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley tweeted. "We can advance scientific discovery while treating animals humanely." (More USDA stories.)

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