Dissecting cats is cruel and archaic. And as a college biology teacher, I know that students learn better when they use modern and humane non-animal methods.
Four recent studies conducted at different universities across the country found that students who learn biology by sculpting body parts from clay do better on anatomy exams than their peers who cut up dead cats. Dozens of other studies have come to the same conclusion and shown that students using such methods as clay modeling and virtual dissection software find them more enjoyable than dissection, are more confident in the material and learn faster. In my own classes, I use only non-animal methods and have found the same thing.
Further, a growing number of students find dissection upsetting, especially when it involves cats from shelters that might have been someone's lost companion. As a result, they are distracted and unable to learn the requisite material. Others develop callous attitudes toward animals as a result of these exercises. Replacing crude dissections with more modern and effective learning methods imparts respect for animals to all students and creates a more inclusive learning environment that does not risk alienating anyone.
For all of these reasons, many schools and districts across the country have replaced animal dissection. The move is also endorsed by leading professional organizations including the National Science Teachers Association and the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society.
Readers can learn more about why ending dissection is good for animals, teachers and students at www.peta.org/dissection.