A Forever Pet…Not So Much

A little over a decade ago, Texas A&M University cloned a cat.  That cat, appropriately named Copy Cat, is still alive and well (at least at the time of the report when she turned 10 years old).  She has a great life and a great home.

But was she a carbon copy of her donor mother cat?  Not at all.  She looks nothing like her “mother.”  You can read the AP article here.

It’s Tuesday, so that means TINSTAAFL Tuesday.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Check out my other TINSTAAFL Tuesday posts about DNA manipulation: Welcome to Gattica and Tracking Pooch’s Poo.

When animal cloning seemed to be on the horizon, many people wanted to store tissue samples of their beloved pets so they could recreate that same animal later after the dog or cat passed over the rainbow bridge.  The company called Genetic Savings & Clone (catchy, huh?) were ready to store genetic material and eventually produce clones for $50,000.  Keep in mind, there is no promise that the resulting cat will be anything like the original.  It might look the same, but it probably won’t act the same.

Um, hello, there are some pretty incredible shelter cats that would love to have nice homes at a fraction of the price. My sister-in-law found two adorable kittens that need homes now.

The company closed in 2006 due to the lack of demand for cloned cats.  Evidently, the business was not sustainable.  Well, no surprise there.

I just found this other article about cloned cats that glow!  South Korean scientists modified the DNA of cloned cats so they glowed red in ultraviolet light.  More recently in the US, a cat was cloned–he glows green.  Take a look at this video:

Much of the latest research that is going on now is in the direction of cloning endangered animals, rather than resurrecting dead pets.  I’m not sure how making them glow has anything to do with saving a species, but I have a great idea for a science fiction story in the works now.

Just remember:  There is no such thing as a free lunch.  😉

12 thoughts on “A Forever Pet…Not So Much

  1. lynnkelleyauthor

    Excellent post, Diana. I hadn’t heard about this before. Scifi is right! Reminds me of the movie, “The Sixth Day.” I love that movie!

  2. Jordan Hawk

    I think science fiction has given people an unrealistic idea of cloning (and how genetics work). Random switching on or off of genes gives rise to variation in coat patterns, and “environmental” factors such as level of exposure to various hormones in the womb also affects expression (or not) or genes. And that’s not even getting into the impact of early socializing, siblings, etc. once the organism is born!

    The glowing thing started as a way of tagging certain genes; the parts of the animal which glowed would indicate where the tagged gene was being expressed. That use has been around for a while, but it’s now expanded into a fashion statement of sorts. “You too can have a glowing pet!” 🙂

    1. Diana Beebe Post author

      It is amazing how it’s been simplified for fiction (look at the procedural TV shows that get DNA results back in hours or days, not weeks or months). I agree with you. No one knows how much the environment and other factors (siblings and other circumstances) play a part in the process.
      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Jordan!

  3. Julie Glover

    So interesting, Diana. But isn’t that just souped-up Pet Sematary?

    In my opinion, if you want a cat, go to your local animal shelter or just put a bowl of cat food on your porch to attract the strays (how I ended up with my black cat Hermes). If you want him to glow, they do make glow-in-the-dark body paint. 😉

    I do love that name Copy Cat.

  4. lynettemburrows

    Fascinating, Diana. Funny how people get uncomfortable with the idea of cloning. You made a clear statement, as did the video, that the cloning is an attempt to figure out the process to preserve endangered species and learn more about genes and genetic manipulation. And that the ‘clone your pet’ idea was not sustainable. Yet, it’s the pet factor that gets people’s attention. For me it’s the science. *Shrug* Maybe that’s due to _my_ genes. LOL. Great post, Diana.

    1. Diana Beebe Post author

      Thanks, Lynette. LOL–“in your genes”! I think tinkering in DNA has so many risks. Saving endangered animals might mean at some point the only way the animal can reproduce at some point. Who knows, maybe that’s the way of the mammoth. Hey, looks a post idea! 🙂

  5. Pingback: That is Not a Fuzzy Elephant | Diana Beebe's Blog

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