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Thousands ask UVA to Stop Testing on Live Cats

Cat with Tube
Cat with Tube
October 8, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - More than 180,000 signatures have been gathered for a petition against the use of live cats in University of Virginia (UVA) pediatrics residency program. Dr. John Pippin is director of academic affairs for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which has been leading the charge against the university for more than two years and is circulating the petition at www.change.org.

Pippin says the cats are used to replicate premature babies, and the students use the live cats to practice inserting breathing tubes down the cats' throats. He says not only is the practice inhumane for the cats, it's also outdated and unnecessary.

"There are several purpose-designed simulators that have been developed in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics to replace the use of animals, and those are used everywhere, but UVA prefers to use the cats. It's archaic and it's discredited and it should be ended."

Pippin says a cat's anatomy is very different from that of a baby. A cat has to be chest-down for the procedure, rather than lying on its back like a human baby.

The university issued a statement from the vice president and dean of the School of Medicine saying it hopes to find a good simulator, but it is not in the best interest of premature infants to stop using animals. Pippin says only four pediatrics programs out of 209 in the U.S. and Canada use animals to teach endotracheal intubation.

Many of the UVA cats have been used for more than 7 years, Pippin says.

"The cats are maintained in a colony at UVA, and they are used typically several times a year. They intubate them many times; they subject them to anesthesia; they keep them as long as they're useful for that purpose."

UVA stated that when the cats are retired they are adopted out to a staff member.

The on-line petition is at http://www.change.org. When it reaches 200,000 signatures, the petition will be presented to the dean at the UVA School of Medicine.


Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA