The Tale of Two Lab Kittens: The One We Saved, the One We Didn’t, and Why It’s Historic

 

This op-ed was originally published by Sentient Media on May 13, 2021.

This is a tale of two cats, Petite and Sif.

As kittens, they were sold by the same “kitten mill” to the United States government to be abused then killed in painful taxpayer-funded experiments.

For Petite (a.k.a. government ID# 15KEY5), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Kitten Slaughterhouse.” For Sif (a.k.a. government ID #17LFC4), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

White Coat Waste Project recently shut down Sif’s home. Two years prior, we gave Petite’s lab the same treatment.

However, the two kittens’ stories diverge from there.

FROM LAB CAT TO “LAP CAT:” meet Petite, formerly #15KEY5. Petite’s federal ID was permanently tattooed in both ears at the government’s largest cat lab.


The One We Saved.
Petite’s story is the pure distillation of something we call: FOIA to freedom.

We started with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) investigation into Petite’s secret government laboratory.

Petite was sold to USDA’s Kitten Slaughterhouse in 2016 by a company called Liberty Research that supplies animals to government labs. She was just over a year old.

The government noted that she was a “little cat.” So it gave her the name Lil Petite.

This is the actual receipt for Petite’s purchase from Liberty Research. We sued the USDA to get this.


The feds turned Petite into a breeder— an incubator for more lab specimens.

For nearly half a century, the USDA slaughtered and incinerated 3,000 of these healthy and adoptable kittens in toxoplasmosis experiments.

Nobody knew about it. Not even Congress.

The USDA also purchased cat and dog meat from China’s live animal markets and fed it to Petite’s kittens in cannibalism experiments. It wasted over $22 million taxpayer dollars.

Think about that for a minute: dog and cat meat markets abroad. Taxpayer-funded animal experimentation at home… and you were the customer!

We exposed the USDA’s receipts to the international media. Then we united 3 million liberty lovers and animal lovers and rallied “Waste Warriors” in Congress to close Petite’s lab and retire the survivors.

From FOIA to freedom, it took about a year to defund and defeat the largest cat lab in the entire federal government.

FOIA TO FREEDOM: Petite, on the ride home, the day we rescued her from USDA’s Kitten Slaughterhouse.


The One We Didn’t.
Sif was also bred by Liberty Research but sold to a different government lab on May 8, 2018. She, too, was just past her first birthday.

Sif was bought by the Los Angeles VA Medical Center—one of three taxpayer-funded kitten labs the VA has been operating, alongside labs in Cleveland and Louisville.

We discovered Sif’s secretive lab by piecing together data from FOIA requests, government spending records, federal databases, and lawsuits.

Live cats had holes drilled in their skulls. The victims were suffocated, their oxygen cut off as part of ongoing sleep experiments.

Electrodes were implanted into their brains. Some had electrodes implanted in their tongues and chins, as well, and had “head caps” cemented to their fractured skulls.

Once deemed no longer useful, blood was drained from their bodies. Then their brains were removed for dissection.

The grants funding VA’s cat experiments, in total, have cost taxpayers over $10 million.

The VA didn’t want you to know the details of what they did to Sif.

We had to sue to get her records.

The last record of Sif’s life is dated January 2020. It’s of Sif’s weight. She was 3.44 kilograms—about 7.5 pounds. Just a wee cat, too, like Petite.

In March 2021, a brave whistleblower came forward and exposed how the VA had killed Sif and every other kitten.

But Sif’s death was a bittersweet coda to another great victory…

Why It’s Historic.
Just days after our lawsuit, and following advocacy from world-famous Kitten Lady, CBS News confirmed we ended all cat experiments at the Los Angeles VA.

One down, two to go. And with the closure of USDA’s Kitten Slaughterhouse, the VA now operates the U.S. government’s last major kitten labs.

Cleveland and Louisville are ground zero in White Coat Waste Project’s historic campaign to end all painful cat experiments across the entire federal government.

That’s why 30 Democrats and Republicans in Congress are reaching across party lines to pass the CATS Act.

LAB CAT TO LAP CAT: Petite and Delilah in their post-government lab home.


Petite now lives in a loving home, probably a lot like yours. Her favorite activities include snuggling, head bonks, and making biscuits. She’s gone from lab cat to lap cat! I know how much Petite loves her new life because I actually adopted her.

Petite and Delilah, another Kitten Slaughterhouse survivor, live with me and my partner. So this tale of two cats is very personal to me.

But it’s personal for you too. You are still paying the government to abuse kittens.

When the money stops, the killing stops. With your help, we’ll close this shameful chapter in American history… and dump wasteful government cat experiments into the litter box of history.

Anthony Bellotti is the president and founder of White Coat Waste Project, a 3-million-member watchdog group that works to find, expose and defund $20 billion in wasteful taxpayer-funded animal experiments.

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