A British animal rights group accused 10 universities around the United Kingdom of conducting garish experiments on hundreds of cats between 2008 and 2012, the Independent reported.
The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) made its allegations in a study released on Monday saying 855 cats were used in 1,304 experiments designed to see "how cats 'work.'"
In one experiment, the BUAV said, researchers at University College London anesthetized and restrained cats with clamps on their backs before screwing plates onto their skulls and attaching electrodes to nerves near their spines, ribcages and into their spinal cords. The research was designed to gauge "how abdominal nerve cells and muscles work together to allow for normal respiration, coughing and breathing.
In another experiment, cats were raised in total darkness to gain insight into "lazy eye." The report named not only the London school, but the University of Cardiff, and University of Glasgow in Scotland.
"The information gained from cat research has little direct relevance to humans because of the fundamental nature of the work and the substantial differences between the two species," the BUAV said in a statement. "Research on cats is cruel, unnecessary and unpopular. Sophisticated, humane and human-relevant techniques can be used instead."
Two of the colleges listed in the report, University College London and the University of Cardiff, released separate statements saying that the experiments detailed by BUAV had not taken place in years; the London school said BUAV's information covered tests conducted in 1992 and 1998, while the University of Cardiff said the tests listed took place four years ago.
"Animals are used in important research targeting diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune conditions, and parasitic diseases, and only where there are no alternatives," the University of Cardiff said in its statement. "When doing so, the University adheres to extremely strict ethical and welfare guidelines and legislation and all work is licensed by the Home Secretary only when the benefits of doing so are made absolutely clear."
But the BUAV said that the University College London experiments in which electrodes were put in cats' brains was for research published in 2013.
"People will be shocked to learn that animals lare being treated like disposable research tools," Humane Society International UK spokesperson Wendy Higgins told the Mirror. "But what makes it truly immoral is that these animals are losing their lives in experiments that have little scientific credibility whatsoever."
[Image: "Green Eyed Kitten Relaxing On Cream Carpet," via Shutterstock]