Ambitious plans were reported in The Canberra Times on this day in 1974, as the man in charge of animal experiments at the ANU, Dr John Smith, sought a $100,000 grant for a colony of cats. It was not a case of needing a few cats available living at the university - Dr Smith would need "some 400 cats a year".
"We need the colony because there is a desperate shortage of cats available in the ACT for experimental work," he said. The work would be done by physiology and pharmacology departments into cats' vision and central nervous system. The colony would be demanding, requiring a new building to be built, as well three full-time staff overseeing it. The building would include a laboratory, hospital, nursery, rearing rooms, inside and outside runs and a kitchen. The cats would be bred by acquiring a nucleus of about 40 females and four of five toms. Dr Smith expected, by the end of the first year, the colony would be producing between 400 and 500 cats.
"After 10 years I would expect this figure to have risen to about 800 a year," Dr Smith said. But not everyone supported the idea. SPCA inspector, Mr Allan Sims, said he did not like the sound of the colony "one bit", and the matter would be raised at a committee meeting.
"I can see trouble and a lot of upset cat lovers around," he said, "I will most certainly be looking into this."
Dr Smith expected to hear by the end of 1974 whether the grant would be approved.
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