Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act of 2018," or KITTEN Act:
Republican Rep. Mike introduced a bill on Friday to stop the Department of Agriculture from using cats and kittens in painful experiments.
“I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan KITTEN Act to put a stop to USDA’s tax-funded experiments on cats and kittens. My constituents and other Americans have made it clear that they don’t want the federal government spending their hard-earned tax dollars to abuse and kill cats in cruel, inhumane and outdated experiments. The USDA must stop killing kittens, and I hope to work collaboratively with the agency towards that goal.”
Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, "involves breeding hundreds of kittens, feeding them Toxoplasma-infected raw meat for 2-3 weeks, collecting their feces during this time to harvest parasites, and then killing the kittens and discarding them by 'incineration.' Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that can cause serious health issues for pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A spokesperson for the USDA's Agricultural Research Service told CNN earlier this week that the use of an estimated 100 cats a year under the experimental protocol cited in the letter was "a serious over estimation" and called cats "essential" to the research.
"The Agricultural Research Service-USDA (ARS) makes every effort to minimize the number of cats used to produce eggs required to research one of the most widespread parasites in the world. The cats are essential to the success of this critical research," the spokesperson said.
The legislation, dubbed the "Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act of 2018," or KITTEN Act, directs the secretary of agriculture to "end the use of cats in experiments that cause pain or stress." It is co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California.
CNN's Juana Summers contributed to this report.