A research programme in the US that undertook deadly experiments on cats has been stopped.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Tuesday (local time) it would no longer use cats in its research programme, which included feeding them the brains of other cats, and infecting them with toxoplasmosis before euthanising them.
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A company called White Coats Waste Project claimed in a report called USDA Kitten Cannibalism the agency was feeding cats the tongues, brains and hearts of other cats it had brought from markets.
The report alleged the "gruesome experiments" had strayed from its mission of keeping America's foodchain safe.
In a statement the USDA said it was now ending its taxpayer-funded toxoplasmosis research, but made no mention of the cannibalism.
The research began in 1982 in an effort to combat foodborne illness, Fox News reported.
"ARS toxoplasmosis research has reached its maturity and ARS considers the project's objectives for agriculture achieved.
"While there is still additional research needed in this area regarding human health, this research area is outside of USDA's stated mission," the statement said.
But Justin Goodman, vice president of White Coat Waste Project, told The Washington Post the experiments were "disturbing".
"That the USDA could, for over a decade, use taxpayers' money to go around the world rounding up hundreds of kittens and puppies, killing them, and feeding their brains to cats for useless experiments highlights the disturbing lack of accountability and transparency at the agency."
The USDA said the remaining cats were being adopted by staff.