For decades, countless cats have been imprisoned, cut into, and killed in
cruel and useless "sound localization" experiments at the University
of Wisconsin–Madison (UW).
When PETA learned that UW
experimenters took photographs to document this abuse, we demanded that the
school release the photos. Knowing that the public would be outraged if the
truth came out, UW fought to keep its cruelty a secret for more than three
years, but a successful PETA lawsuit compelled the university to release the
images. PETA has now obtained dozens of disturbing never-before-seen
photographs showing the miserable life and death of a beautiful orange tabby
cat named Double Trouble, who was tormented for months in these experiments.
records obtained by PETA, Double Trouble was subjected to invasive surgeries on
her ears, skull, and brain. In the first operation, a stainless steel post was
screwed to her skull so that her head could be immobilized during experiments.
In the next surgery—which is depicted in the photographs—experimenters cut into
her head and skull and then applied a toxic substance to her inner ears in
order to deafen her. Experimenters also implanted electrical devices deep
inside both of her ears during this surgery.
show that Double Trouble's anesthesia wore off during this surgery and she woke
up to what was likely a painful and horrifying experience as experimenters were
cutting into her head and skull. Another cat in the same laboratory also woke
up in the middle of a similar surgery.
Following the surgeries, Double Trouble was
subjected to experimental sessions in which her head was bolted in place and
she was restrained in a nylon bag and forced to listen to sounds coming from
different directions. Double Trouble was deprived of food for several days
before these sessions in order to coerce her into cooperating in exchange for a
morsel of food.
Double Trouble's health rapidly deteriorated. Records
say that she was observed twitching, which the clinical notes indicate was a "neurological
sign." Her face became partially paralyzed and the head wound that
experimenters created during surgery also never healed. More than three months
after her last surgery, the records describe her wound as "open, moist
w/bloody purulent discharge, [with] moderate swelling."
An antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection resulted
from Double Trouble's wound, but experimenters still forced her to endure almost
two months of this misery. One of the last entries in Double Trouble's records
states that she "appear[ed] … depressed." In
the end, experimenters noted that she was too ill to continue and that the
device they had implanted did not work, so she was killed and decapitated so
that her brain could be dissected. A former UW-Madison veterinarian who oversaw the treatment of Double Trouble and other cats used in this
laboratory recently issued a letter confirming this abuse, stating that many of
the cats "suffered unnecessarily."
justified the use of 30 cats per year not by saying that the experiments would lead
to improvements in human health but rather by stating that they needed to "keep
up a productive publication record that ensures our constant funding."
However, no peer-reviewed papers have been published
in any scientific journals as a result of the suffering that Double Trouble endured.
Correspondence between UW experimenters and their collaborators acknowledge
that there was a problem with Double Trouble's surgery. The experiment was a failure.
Prompted by a complaint from PETA,
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspected this UW laboratory and confirmed that there was "a pattern of recurring infections" and
that all the cats profiled
by PETA in its complaint had been "diagnosed
with chronic infections." The USDA noted that some cats have died
from the infections and that one cat
named NJ even had to have her eye removed after an implanted metal coil
caused a severe infection. During this investigation, the USDA also cited UW
for violating the Animal Welfare Act because a cat named Broc was burned so
badly with a heating pad that she required surgery.
This cruel and useless experiment is part of a
larger ongoing project that has received more than $3 million in tax money through
the National Institutes of Health with the stated purpose of understanding
how the brain determines the location of a sound. But researchers at
prestigious institutions around the world are already using modern methods with
human volunteers to investigate this question.
You can help other cats like Double Trouble by
clicking below and joining PETA in asking that NIH cut funding for these cruel
and worthless experiments.