National Cat Day, celebrated on Saturday, October 29th, is a day to encourage cat adoption and learn more about ways to improve the lives of cats. A federal bill gaining attention in Congress aims to ensure that felines used in laboratories have a chance to find their forever homes across the country.
More than 18,000 cats – along with 60,000 dogs and 140,000 rabbits – are used in experiments in the United States every year, with many suffering and dying in cruel, unreliable tests. Even when cats (and other animals) survive an experiment, they are often killed and discarded if they are considered no longer useful to the laboratory, when they could instead be released for adoption into loving homes.
Cats are used in many experiments including those involving vision and hearing, sleep patterns, paralysis and the brain, strokes and parasites. Such studies may involve invasive and gruesome procedures including drilling holes in their skulls to implant electrodes, or being intentionally deafened and blinded. Over 5,400 cats are used in experiments known to cause pain and some are purposely performed without pain relieving drugs. Cats may be selected for experiments because they are easy to handle and house, are inexpensive and easy to acquire. Hundreds of cats are held in laboratories but not used in experiments and even these cats may be killed if they are deemed “surplus” to the laboratory.
Now, the Companion Animal Release from Experiments [CARE] Act, championed by Californian Congressman Tony Cárdenas, could ensure that cats, as well as dogs and rabbits, are put up for adoption rather than killed when no longer wanted for experiments in laboratories that receive taxpayer funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The Bill was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives in October 2021 and is currently open for lawmakers to add their names to it in support, to make legislative progress more likely.
Congressman Cárdenas said, “It’s simple: if a research facility uses pets for research, then they must work to find them homes. We experiment on over 200,000 dogs, cats, and rabbits each year. The least we can do is give these living beings a chance at life in a loving home. My bill requires research facilities funded by the NIH to develop adoption policies for those animals. This is part of a larger effort to move away from animal-based testing and research wherever possible and toward more humane and sound scientific research.”
Monica Engebretson, Cruelty Free International’s North America Head of Public Affairs, said, “While we believe that these experiments shouldn’t be happening in the first place, we are pleased that the CARE Act has the potential to save hundreds of animals with a desire to live free from suffering. Organizations across the U.S. are ready to help laboratory survivors find happy endings. Anyone who cares about animals should support the CARE Act.”
People can help to advance the CARE Act by contacting their Representative and asking them to become a cosponsor of the bill to #SendSurvivorsHome. Representatives can be contacted at bit.ly/CAREAct22.
Cruelty Free International is one of the world’s longest standing and most respected animal protection organizations. The organization is widely regarded as an authority on animal testing issues and is frequently called upon by governments, media, corporations and official bodies for its advice or expert opinion. www.