A bill in Congress to stop USDA researchers from euthanizing kittens used in their work now has 61 co-sponsors, including both Republicans and Democrats.
Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley introduced a Senate version of the KITTEN Act, also known as the “Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act of 2018.”
“The USDA breeds up to 100 kittens a year, feeds them parasite-infected meat in order to have the parasite’s eggs harvested for use in other experiments, and then kills the kittens,” Merkley said. “This bill would essentially stop this process.”
The testing is conducted at an Agriculture Department facility in Beltsville, Maryland, near Washington D.C., according to the White Coat Waste Project, which opposes animal-based research and exposed the practice earlier this year.
The USDA did not respond immediately to a request for comment on the legislation. Back in May, a spokesman said the use of cats is “essential” to the research to combat a widespread parasite, and it “makes every effort to minimize the number of cats used,” calling the 100 figure a “serious over-estimation.”
The House version was introduced by Republican Rep. Mike Bishop. While Bishop lost his re-election bid last month, Merkley says he hope to make the effort bipartisan in the Senate when members return in 2019, and may discuss the issue the issue with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.