Anti-cat bias in research? It may be hurting people, too


A provocative article  wonders why there are more studies on dogs than cats, and asks the question of some top researchers. Is it anti-cat bias?

From the article, in the New York Times:

[I] emailed Elinor Karlsson at the Broad Institute and the University of Massachusetts. She is a geneticist who owns three cats, but does much of her research on dogs — the perfect unbiased observer. […] I had gotten to know Dr. Karlsson a bit while reporting on research she was doing on wolves. I asked her whether there was indeed more research on dogs than cats, and if so, why?

“Ooo, that is an interesting question!” she wrote back. “Way more interesting than the various grant-related emails that are filling up my inbox.

“The research has lagged behind in cats. I think they’re taken less seriously than dogs, probably to do with societal biases. I have a vet in my group who thinks that many of the cancers in cats may actually be better models for human cancer, but there has been almost no research into them.”

Better models than cancers in dogs, that is. Dogs do get many of the same cancers as humans, but in dogs the risk for these cancers often varies by breed, which narrows the target down when looking for the cause of a disease.

And that’s not all. Read the rest, and let’s give our cats their due!