When researching remedies, cures, and behaviors of cats, you will find an almost infinite number of studies concerning the particular issues being researched. Rarely when undergoing this process does anyone ponder about the cats that are a part of the study or the testing. Additionally, when you hear the term “lab animal,” you most likely conjure up images of mice and guinea pigs, right. What if I told you that there are cats who literally spend their entire lives in testing labs? I really wish that I was making this up, but it is absolutely true.
I first learned about the story when researching the Rescue + Freedom Project, an organization that focuses on rescuing and freeing animals from hostile conditions. It was not long before I found out that a great deal of their work is rescuing lab animals, including house cats. As with any animal rescue organization, there will always be at least one animal who stole the hearts of the rescuers, and instead of allowing the animal to be adopted, the shelter keeps them as the residence doorkeeper. This is the case with Amelia, a beautiful white and gray cat at the Rescue + Freedom headquarters.
While Amelia has a bubbly and outgoing personality, greeting everyone who comes through the office door, this has not always been the case. You see, Amelia is one of the thousands of cats who have spent the majority of their lives as test subjects. When humans end up as test subjects, it is by choice, well, almost. There was the Tuskegee experiment. I digress. Cats don’t have the ability to opt out of being used as a test subject.
Cats like Amelia spend the lives in rooms with fluorescent lighting and the only human contact they receive are from technicians wearing latex gloves. As you can imagine, these cats lack normal social skills and they are generally hypervigilant.
Here is the truth about animal testing that most people are completely unaware of: There are thousands of cats and dogs, exactly like the ones in your living room right now, that are tortured and tested on a daily basis, according to Keith, the founder of the organization (2010). Rescue + Freedom Project uses its resources to rescue as many of these animals as possible. According to Keith, there are at least 100,000 cats and dogs at testing facilities in the United States. These animal are basically losing their lives to test products like soaps, cosmetics, and household cleaners, and the companies behind this have become very astute at keeping this dirty little secret.
With the love Americans have for pets, it is obvious that the average American citizen does not have a clue that this type of animal torture is taking place right underneath their eyes. The animal testing industry may rival the CIA in its ability to conduct their agendas covertly. There is very little spoken or said about what is going on. The animal testing industry understands that if the public were aware that they were testing animals, especially cats and dogs, there would be a firestorm of bad publicity — not only for the testing labs but for the companies that create the products they are testing.
One of the ways that these facilities keep what they are doing under wraps is that they make sure that the animals they use never leave the facility, literally living and dying as the property of the facility. Releasing the animals after a certain age would ultimately raise questions because the social skills of test animals are not equal to those of household pets. At some point, people are going to want to know why so many animals have these weird behaviors, so these companies hold to these for the entire span of their lives.
Another way that Rescue + Freedom is working to end this type of animal torture is lobbying for the Beagle Freedom Bill to become law. The bill got its name due to the fact that the Beagle dog breed has the dubious distinction of being the most tested animal in the world. This law would not completely protect the animals, but it would force testing facilities to release all animals to rescue organizations once the testing is done.