The BUAV has uncovered research at Cardiff University in which newborn litters of kittens were raised in total darkness and others were deprived of sight in one eye by having their eyelids sewn shut. Details of the experiment have been published today in the Wales on Sunday.
Only recently, the Home Office released the statistics for the number of experiments carried out on animals in Great Britain during 2011; which revealed that the number of experiments on cats rose by 26% (to 235). The majority of the animals were used in fundamental biological research; much of which is simply curiosity-driven.
In the experiment at Cardiff University, 31 cats were used. Most of the kittens, other than the control group, were raised in complete darkness from birth for periods of up to 12 weeks. Others were deprived of the sight in one eye from one-month old for up to a week, by having their eyelids sewn shut.
The kittens were then anaesthetised, and their skulls cut open to expose their brains. Images were recorded of the responses of the cats’ brains (visual cortex) to visual stimuli, after which the cats were killed and parts of their brains removed for further analysis. The experiment was publicly funded through the Medical Research Council.
Michelle Thew, Chief Executive, BUAV stated:
"We know the public will be shocked to learn of this publicly funded research at Cardiff University in which kittens were subjected to unpleasant procedures such as depriving them of light or having one eyelid sewn shut before invasive brain surgery and death. This is unacceptable cruel research."
In 2010, Cardiff University was at the centre of another controversy involving kitten experiments following an earlier BUAV exposé which revealed 19 two to six months old kittens had been subjected to invasive surgery under anaesthesia and had parts of their brains exposed in order to implant electrodes.