Researchers from Cardiff University said sewing the eyelids of 31 kittens closed was necessary to see how their brains developed when denied vision.One group of kittens was rendered sightless for 12 weeks immediately after birth, while another was initially allowed to see before having their eyes sewn shut at a later stage.
The study was aimed at learning how the brain adapts to signals it receives from the eye to help understand amblyopia, or “lazy eye” – a condition which affects two to four per cent of children.
But Michelle Thew, chief executive of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, said: “This is unacceptable cruel research. We know the public will be shocked to learn of publicly-funded experiments in which kittens have been subjected to unpleasant procedures.”
A spokesman for the university said: “[Cats] are the only mammals with frontally positioned eyes and therefore the only animals to develop severe amblyopia similar to humans under similar circumstances. It is impossible to use any other kind of technique for this study.”
The experiment was approved by the Home Office and the university’s own ethics board, the spokesman added.
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