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Norwich Bulletin - 1/7/2007

The Laboratory

Helping Paws has done several Scientific Laboratory rescues during the last ten years. These labs were doing testing that in no way helped the cats who were being used for the research. In the name of science, cats and other animals have been used to test eye products, cleaning products and end up causing the animal harm. But now there are actually some laboratories that are different and are there for the betterment of the animals.

There are several Universities that are working directly with breeders in order to work at eliminating feline diseases by studying genetics. This can only be done if the researcher has access to pedigree histories that can show if a trait has been inherited. I have had all my Abyssinians checked to see if they are PK carriers, a genetic disease in Abys that causes a type of anemia. None of my cats had to go to a lab.

The University of Pennsylvania offers a discounted price to test the cats Ė blood is drawn by your own veterinarian and mailed off. For an extra small fee, they will even blood type your cat. The University asks for the pedigree which can be added into a database to see if there is a pattern with particular lines, etc. Many researchers need a great number of cats in order to learn about, and hopefully, eliminate a particular feline disease. It makes no sense to have a lab full of cats breeding more and more kittens, when there are so many cats around already Ė especially if the research is on a disease that is inherent in a particular breed.

There is also a trend in which researchers will go into animal shelters to work on eliminating particular cat viruses. For instance, the chronic upper respiratory disease which is almost exclusively seen in shelters is best studies at the shelters. Why take healthy cats into a laboratory and infect them with a disease that already exists in every shelter all over the country?

Why not do a little extra legwork and go to the shelters themselves and concentrate on eliminating the disease from whence it comes? And going to shelters has led to some great conclusions. Shelters who have colony spaces have less upper resp. problems than shelters who have exclusively cages. Cages cause fear and stress and loneliness, all leading causes of disease in cats.

One of the best studies being done is a study on how to stop the overpopulation of cats in the world. Spays and neuters take time and also weaken the feral catís resistance. Being given a vaccine that blocks the production of testosterone or estrogen gives the cats the feeling that they were physically sterilized and effectively takes away the cats interest in the opposite sex!

Simply trapping the cat and administering the vaccine very quickly and letting the cat go again, is all that needs to be done. In this case the laboratory does do actual lab work every so often. However, all the cats used for this research are adopted out. There is no euthanizing the cats that help find the answers.

Cats need to have quality food and their diets need to be nutritious. Many companies work with breeders to find out what is needed to keep cats healthy and then pass it on to the general public in order to keep our housecats nutritionally sound. There are researchers that are finding alternatives to euthanizing cats for particular research projects. Some are using cats that have died of natural causes and others are trying to find away to get samples from live cats.

There are many questions that need answering in order to enhance our petís lives or simply to protect them. For instance, I still cannot figure out why a test hasnít been created for rabies in which the animal doesnít need to be killed in order to find out if the animal was infected or not. How many innocent animals that have scratched or bitten from fear of being misused that end up dead because of having to test for rabies? With all our knowledge, researchers should be able to come up with something Ė after all it is almost 2007!

So research is important and I can accept that. I am pleased that there are scientists around that can do the research without taking a life or causing pain and suffering to an innocent animal. I just wish there were more of them around!

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