Picture and story by: Sydney Snyder
When students walked into anatomy class two weeks ago they expected to dissect cats, but instead to their surprise they saw a bunch of rabbits and only a couple of cats. In the past years, every student dissected a cat to get a better feel of how the body systems work all together; however, most of the students this year are currently dissecting rabbits.
The cause of the shortage in cats being dissected this year is due to the Trap-Neuter-Release program. The Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program is a program where community cats are humanely trapped, brought to an animal shelter, neutered, vaccinated, eartipped and then released back outdoors. Before TNR, the American Shelter had been catching and killing outdoor cats to keep the population down. The bodies of those cats were then preserved with formaldehyde so they could be preserved for anatomy students all over the country to dissect. Now, since the release of TNR, the number of cats being killed in shelters has rapidly decreased.
Due to the limited supply of cats to dissect, anatomy teacher Trina Veerkamp had to find a replacement animal that was not too small to see all the organs of the body.
“We only would have had 12 cats to dissect for all of my classes, which is not at all enough to dissect,” Veerkamp said. “I was very fortunate to get the rabbits.”
Rabbits are the only animals that are about the same size as the cats that Veerkamp could get her hands on in time before the dissection weeks.
Even though the rabbits are about the same size as the cats, there are pros and cons to using rabbits versus cats. One of the major differences between these two animals is the fact that rabbits are herbivores while cats are carnivores. Veerkamp and other students also noticed and disliked some particulars about the rabbits compared to the cats.
“I dislike that some of the muscles are smaller or different on the rabbit then the cat,” Veerkamp said.
Another complication of the rabbits is that the students had to scoop out all the rabbit’s food to see the structures of the stomach.
“I dislike that the bunny ate a full meal before we dissected the stomach,” junior Jenny Geng said. “It took forever to scoop out all the green food with a plastic spoon.”
Another student noticed that there was more formaldehyde on the rabbit than the cat. “The formaldehyde burns my lungs and my eyes when dissecting the rabbit,” senior Ashley Varney said.
Despite the complications that popped up, students still had fun dissecting and getting to see all the body systems connected together
“I like that instead of just looking at diagrams and pictures that we actually get to experience real bodies,” senior Sydney Castellanos said.