A watchdog report released this week claims that US government scientists have been participating in disturbing and gruesome experiments on cats, including feeding their remains to health laboratory cats for “research”. Other experiments carried at the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) lab in Maryland included feeding dog remains to cats, and injecting cat remains into mice.

The animals euthanized to be used as laboratory food, included over 400 dogs from Vietnam, Brazil and Columbia, as well as over 100 cats from Ethiopia and China.

The report was published by non-profit organization ‘The White Coat Waste Project (WCWP), which aims to combat wasteful government spending on animal testing. The department’s experiments – believed to have been carried out between 2003 and 2015 – were aimed at studying different forms of parasites that cause food-borne illness ‘toxoplasmosis’.

Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common parasitic infections in the world, and is a leading cause of food-borne deaths in the US. Despite this, the research by WCWP claim that there was “very limited or even no impact,” on improving public health.

Kittens had been bred at the lab since 1982 and more than 4,000 cats had been killed for the project since then. They were fed raw meat to become infected with toxoplasmosis. After harvesting the parasites, the cats are euthanized. Cats were used because they are the only host animal that can produce parasite eggs. The healthy cats, who pass the parasite eggs and become immune, are killed because they are no longer useful.

Lead Republican Brian Mast told NBC News the details of the experiments were disgusting.

“The details of these kitten experiments keep getting worse. The fact that the USDA has been rounding up pets and other innocent dogs and cats in foreign countries…killing them and feeding them to lab cats here in the States is simply disgusting and unjustifiable,” he said.

The worst part about this is that taxpayer money was used to carry out the experiments. The project received $650,000 (£497, 000) a year in taxpayer funds.

David Barritt, chief campaigner for Network for Animals (NFA) said these were senseless and merciless killings conducted in the name of scientific research.

“The question that remains is – what consequences have US authorities meted out to the scientists involved in these experiments, if any?”