Looking through cats' eyes

Matt Jones jonesmat at ohsu.edu
Sun Oct 17 16:55:40 EST 1999

In article <940124728.76794 at server.australia.net.au> Jo!hn,
johnhkm at netsprintXXXX.net.au writes:
>It takes a much smaller leap of the imagination to realise just how much
>these animals must suffer during these experiments. Certainly the research
>provides valuable info, but "the end justifies the means" does not
>constitute an argument. 


I notice that you often post excerpts of newspaper articles and press
releases, without offering any comments of your own. Just out of
curiousity, do you ever actually bother to read the original research
papers that these press releases describe? Or do you get all of your
scientific information through newspapers?

The paper in question was published in Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 19,
issue 18, p. 8036-8042.  In that paper the authors describe in great
detail the -anesthesia- that was used during the experiment, and inform
us that all the protocols were in accordance with the guidelines of the
UC Berkely Animal Care and Use Committee. I assume that UC Berkeley's
guidelines are in accordance with the National Institutes of Health
guidelines as well.

This means that the animals suffered about as much during the experiment
as a human patient would suffer during surgery involving deep general
anesthesia (probably less, as the animals were not sick to begin with,
unlike human patients).

Whether human scientists have "the right" to use animals at all in
experimentation is a completely separate issue, but in this particular
case, suffering of the animal was probably minimal or zero.

The section of the paper describing the animal handling is reproduced
below in its entriety for your reading pleasure and edification.  While
you're at it, you might try going to the library and actually reading the
rest of the paper too. You know, just to see what it feels like for a

Have a nice day,

Matt Jones

Adult cats ranging in weight from 2 to 3 kg were used in all the
experiments. The animals were initially anesthetized with isofluorane
(3%, with oxygen) followed by sodium pentothal (10 mg/ kg, i.v.,
as needed). A local anesthetic (lidocaine) was injected before all
incisions. Anesthesia was maintained for the duration of the experiment
with sodium pentothal at a dosage of 6 mg/ hr.
A tracheostomy was performed for artificial ventilation. The cat was
moved to a Horsley­Clarke stereotaxic frame. A craniotomy (;0.5 cm)
was performed over the LGN, and the underlying dura was removed. The
hole was filled with 3% agar in physiological saline to improve the
stability of the recordings.
Pupils were dilated with a topical application of 1% atropine sulfate,
and the nictitating membranes were retracted with 10% phenylephrine.
The animal was paralyzed with Norcuron (0.2 mg/ kg/ hr, i.v.) and
ventilated. Ventilation was adjusted so that the end-expiratory
CO2 was ;3.5%. Core body temperature was monitored and maintained
at 37°C. The electrocardiogram and electroencephalogram were also
monitored continuously. Eyes were refracted, fitted with appropriate
contact lenses, and focused on a tangent screen. Eye positions were
stabilized mechanically by gluing the sclerae to metal posts attached to
the stereotaxic apparatus. All experiments were performed as approved
by the Animal Care and Use Committee, University of California at

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