Pexels | Vadim B

USDA Announces That They Will No Longer Do Testing On Kittens

Well, this is some seriously good news.

You may be crying "They've been experimenting on kittens?!?!" and sadly, yes, they have. But the USDA has listened to people's complaints and are ending the program voluntarily.

I may share my home with a pair of puppers, but I grew up with cats and still adore them. Really, even if you're not a fan of cats, you probably don't want them hurt.

The tests were part of research into toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease some blame for "crazy cat ladies."


Though that link has been debunked, the parasite Toxoplasma gondii is still important to study.

Most humans get the parasite from improperly cooked food, but it's also common in cat poop.

For most people, toxoplasmosis is pretty tame.

It's usually asymptomatic, but can cause flu-like symptoms in people with compromised immune systems, as well as possible neurological and vision problems.

But the real danger lies with pregnant women.

If a woman has already been infected before, then their immune system will protect them and their baby, but if the mom gets infected during pregnancy, the baby is in danger. It could cause miscarriage or stillbirth, or result in physical or neurological problems later in life.

This is why pregnant women are told to not empty litter boxes.

Infection requires ingestion of the parasite, which can happen if you accidentally breathe in the litter dust while scooping poop.

Unsplash | Jari Hytönen

According to the ASDA, kittens were used to study the parasite because cats are "the only hosts in which [the parasite] can complete its life cycle and produce [eggs]."

Most cats don't suffer symptoms, just like humans, so it wouldn't be so bad if the ASDA didn't euthanize the kittens after harvesting the eggs.

So yeah, they were basically using them as incubators before killing them.

Which is pretty awful.

Their reason for not finding the kittens homes afterwards make logical sense: that kitten would be taking the parasite with them, possibly spreading it. But it's still wrong to breed kittens as disposable test tubes!

The issue first gained press last year, when the long-time practice was revealed.

Flickr | markkiekebos

At the time, Congress demanded to know why the USDA — an organization charged with enforcing animal welfare laws —had been using taxpayer money for such a thing.

In December 2018, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley introduced an act of legislation to stop the practice.

They called it the KITTEN Act — Kittens In Traumatic Testing Ends Now — which is a pretty labored acronym, but it kept people talking.

In the end, the public pressure has caused the USDA to cease the practice on their own.

They say that there haven't been any newly infected kittens since September.

Unsplash | Dan Wayman

Plans are also in place to allow employees to adopt the dozen or so uninfected kittens still on site.

They don't admit to it being public pressure, instead saying that research into the disease "has reached its maturity."

Whatever. At least they've stopped.