WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Congressman Jimmy Panetta today introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Kittens In Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act, or KITTEN Act, which would end the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) practice of killing kittens after they’re used in agency testing.
“The USDA’s decision to slaughter kittens after they are used in research is an archaic practice and horrific treatment, and we need to end it,” Senator Merkley said. “The KITTEN Act will protect these innocent animals from being needlessly euthanized in government testing, and make sure that they can be adopted by loving families instead.”
“This common sense, bipartisan bill will require the USDA to adhere to the same animal welfare standards that the department is charged to uphold,” said Congressman Panetta. “While I strongly support scientific research, taxpayer money and federal resources should be spent on advancing scientific research in an ethical manner, not on inflicting pain on kittens or killing them after they are used in agency testing. I hope this bill helps us get closer to ending this cruel practice.”
Since 1970, the USDA has spent $650,000 each year to infect and later kill kittens in its Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, MD. The lab breeds up to 100 kittens per year. Once they’re 2 months old, the kittens are fed parasite-infected raw meat. Their feces are then collected and parasitic eggs are harvested for use in other experiments. Once the eggs are collected, the 3-month-old kittens are killed and incinerated—even though the kittens could easily be treated and adopted out.
The Centers for Disease Control, American Veterinary Medical Association, and Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges say that these kittens are safe to have as pets. That’s why Merkley secured language in the Senate Appropriations Committee agricultural bill that urges USDA to consider alternative testing methods to infecting and killing kittens.