Dissection in A&P

  1. I'm taking A&P I this fall and I just found out we will be dissecting a cat. I don't really have a problem with dissection per se, but I am concerned about how these cats died. Was it a natural death or were they euthanized for the purpose of dissection? I am a huge animal lover, especially cats-- I have two of my own and would have more if my husband would let me!! Do any of you out there know where they get these cats from? It will really ease my mind to know they weren't killed for the sake of my learning. If they were euthanized for the purpose of dissection, do I have a right to opt out, or dissect something that died naturally? Any help is appreciated!
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    Joined: May '01; Posts: 231; Likes: 5


  3. by   BrandyBSN
    wow, I disected cats and pigs in High school.... and I can tell you the answer, but you are really not going to like the answer....

    Most animals used in disection were bred for that purpose. They are killed by injecting a silicon-rubber thick die into their main artery, and veins, which the heart pumps through the body the last few times that their heart beats. That is how when you disect, you will see vessels in red and blue.

    We had several students request not to do disection when they found out how the animals died... the instructor told them that they must participate in the lab section, or the best that they could hope for was a C in class, and that was if they had a 100% in the non-lab section of the class. It is necessary to see the blue and red, and muscles, and participation is a big part of most lab grades.

    I know it is sad, but try not to think about them as "pets", but as lab tools.

    Sorry if I made things harder on you, but i thought you should know.

  4. by   KristaB
    At the front of my old (1996) A&P lab book, it says that the cats used in dissection are euthanized cats from shelters. It assures that the cats *are not* bred for the purpose of dissection -- they are going to die anyway.

    We did fetal pigs in A&P through both quarters. I'm not positive, but I do believe that they *are* bred for the purpose of dissection.

  5. by   BrandyBSN
    I hope you are right. Our professor for A&P was a licensed vet, and told us otherwise.

    The only reason I would think otherwise is that all of the cats we dissected were practically identitical. Close to 40 of them.
  6. by   KristaB
    Yeah, I'm just quoting the book. I don't know for sure by any means. That explanation makes sense to me since there are so many cats that are euthanized every day.

    Now that I'm thinking about it, I had a woman in my A&PI class that had taken it before at another school, and she said that they had extra large cats that had been imported from Mexico or some such thing. I remember thinking that I could deal with a fetal pig better than I could a cat.

    I did get pretty attached to my pig, though. I wouldn't say I thought of him as a pet, but I did feel a little twinge today when we had to dispose of them. My prof said we could take them home and keep them in a jar for reference (which should give you some idea of what kind of a guy my prof is!), but I politely declined.

    The first disection is hard, but it seems to get easier as the course progresses. Hopefully, you'll have a lab partner and you can share the duties, particularly initially as it will probably be a bit hard for everyone.

  7. by   carlalogan
    The cats we used for our A&P classes were from animal shelters. Our instructors told us they were scheduled to be put to sleep. I believe them because we had all sizes and ages of cats. In addition, some of ours had really interesting findings in them...like bb's, kittens, worms, candy wrappers, etc...

    Hope that makes you feel a little better!
  8. by   BrandyBSN
    That is a good possibilty, because we did use "extra large" cats, and half were pregnant. I do believe they came from a lab in Mexico, MesaLab Sytems i believe.

    The prof at your school should know for sure, you definately wont lose anything just for asking. Then you can make a better decision for yourself, and your situation.

    Hope you will be ok
  9. by   misti_z
    The cats we used were from local animal shelters. I did have the experience of having an extra large cat, and when we got to the abdomen she was pregnant. Kinda sad........my lab partner got sick

    Good luck!
  10. by   essarge
    The cat's we used for dissection were from animal shelters. They were taken to a lab where they were injected with the silicon die. They were not bred for the purpose of dissection.

    One way to look at it is, when an animal is taken into an animal shelter it is because they are strays. I lived in upstate NY and it always bothered me that they put these animals "to sleep" until I got to know a person in charge of one of these shelters. She showed me pictures and live animals that were brought in. There was a dog frozen to the ground, and other animals that had been starving or abused. I then started looking at it from a different point of view. Is it better to let an animal be humanely euthenized or let them fend for themselves

    Hope this helps.

    By the way I am a huge animal lover.....so much so that I went after a driver on a horse race track that was using his crop to beat a horse. Cost me $50.00!!!
  11. by   delirium
    Our instructor told us that these cats were not bred for dissection, but were in a shelter and euthanized and then injected with the dye. I believe this because the veins and arteries weren't bright red/blue, they were faint and kind of hard to tell. Also, our cats were all different shapes and sizes. My cat was pregnant, she had 3 little kittens. It was sort of sad.
    When I started I thought I would have a huge problem with dissection, but I didn't. Just get a good lab partner and try not to think about it as a cat (although I did, I named ours Mr. Bigglesworth even though it was obviously a female). The only tough part for me was when we had to saw the head in a sagittal section (the crunching was horrible, we had manual saws).
    All in all, it was alright. I said a little prayer to the cat, letting her know that I respected her life and the gift of education she was giving to me. Sounds corny, but it helped me deal with it all.
  12. by   NurzofFaith
    Jumping in to add my two cents worth..LOL
    The cats we used in A&P were from animals shelters, our
    class asked before any cutting was done..LOL

    I do know my cat was huge..and black, just like the one
    I have at home, which was not funny at the time, but is now!

    Anyone else name their cat? Ours was Smelly Cat..all you
    Friends fans I am sure will remember that episode..teehee

    Best wishes,
  13. by   kiddoRN
    We had cats in A&P I that were from the local animal shelter and were $30 a piece. Several student workers from the Biology department were sent to pick them up. What I hated was that they only bought one set of cats (7 total) each year and sooner or later the lab started to reak. The A&P II class was responsible for the actual disection since they dealt with the organs and the A&P I class got to cut at the legs and arms to find the muscles. Also in A&P I we dealt with sheeps brains. Those were neat. These sheep were also not breeded for just this purpose but were sold after slaughter for other reasons. We had a biology professor for A&P I but a interim professor for A&P II who happened to be a vet in a town about an hour away.

    With regards to the cat, we (my lab team of 4) draped a wet papertowel over the cats face for the entirety of the lab class. As the cat was flipped so was the towel. Not looking at the face helped alot. Also since the cat can tend to dry out quickly we sometimes kept most of the body draped in wet papertowels so that the skin and muscles didn't dry up. The less cat to look at the less it messed with our hearts. I live on a farm and have 8 cats myself. It took a while but by and by it got better.