Looking through cats' eyes

Richard Vickery Richard.Vickery at unsw.edu.au
Mon Oct 18 02:31:00 EST 1999

Y-chat at webtv.net wrote:
> The article Matt Jones posted about the "humane" treatment of the cats
> used in this research project is compellingly macabre,the cats were
> obviously also "humanely" euthanized after the research was completed.
> It is possible that there was in this research somewhere a motive given
> for the clinical studies, i.e. to help other cats with visual problems?
> Or perhaps to help develop a new "robotic" toy cat?

Yes, the cats would have been killed by increasing the
anaesthetic level so that they died without recovering
consciousness.  There is no significant pain or stress in this
sort of procedure.  You might argue about whether cats should be
used in this way, but as already pointed out, that is a moral (I
prefer religious) question for which there is no objective right
or wrong answer.

I would suggest that the aims were to understand some of the
basic mechanisms of visual processing that we believe also
underlie our own visual experience.  Understanding ourselves and
how we experience the world around us seems like an extremely
important avenue of exploration to me, even as just knowledge for
the sake of knowledge.  The news release was unduly sensational
and misleading about the nature of the experiments.  The choice
of cat is significant only in that they have a well-studied
visual system not very different from our own.

Richard Vickery

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