Cats serve anatomy classes

D.J. Shoffstall, Copy Editor

There is no shortage of cats to dissect for Pitt- Johnstown students who take Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2 or Vertebrate Anatomy classes.

Natural Sciences administrative assistant Nancy Brunberg said the Biology Department buys the cats from a biological supply company called Nasco, in Fort Atkinson, Wis.

Cats are used for dissection at Pitt-Johnstown for many reasons, according to Biology Department coordinator Stephen Kilpatrick.

“We use cats because they are the closest animal to human anatomy that we can use. They have all of the same muscles and organs as we do,” he said. “Cats are not too big or small; they are the right size for what we need.”

Junior nursing student Caitlin Dekker said that if she had an option, she wouldn’t dissect a cat and doesn’t think its necessary.

The national Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee has a strict application process regarding animal dissection, and Kilpatrick said Pitt-Johnstown administrators have obtained a committee-issued cat license.

“There are strict rules on working with vertebrate animals,” Kilpatrick said. “We need a license for permission to work with the animals and we don’t have one for animals like frogs or pigs.”

Biology department faculty are allowed to use nonvertebrate animals, like worms. They do not fall under care-and-use committee guidelines and can be dissected with fewer restrictions and without a license.

However, everything involving the cats has to be done according to guidelines, even the smaller details like how they are stored when not in use.

Before the careand- use committee was formed, Kilpatrick said Pitt- Johnstown professors had a lot more freedom on what animals they could use and how they could use them.

Committee members and Nasco representatives could not be reached for comment.