University of Illinois researchers studying a contraceptive vaccine called GonaCon developed a unique study environment intended to mimic free-roaming cat populations. Cats were housed in a large, two-level open enclosure with many enrichment opportunities, including a climbing tree, furniture, toys, scented objects, hidey-holes and an outdoor enclosure.
Volunteers also played with and trained the cats. Instead of using lab cats, cats were brought in from a local shelter. Although GonaCon ultimately was not shown to be effective for preventing pregnancy, lead investigator Amy Fischer believes she will use the hybrid research/shelter facility in the future to test new contraceptive technologies.
Jackie Brown is a freelance writer from Southern California who specializes in the pet industry. Reach her at jackiebrownwriter.wordpress.com.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.