Thursday, December 30, 2004

Would You Clone Your Cat?

This week, the first cloned cat was sold to a woman in Texas for $50,000.'s Franny Syufy has an article about cat cloning, which details everything you'd ever want to know about the science and even something about the ethics of this procedure. However, most people don't react calmly to this or want to know how it was done.

A lot of cat enthusiasts are angry about the idea of someone paying $50K to clone a cat when so many stray cats sit in shelters waiting for a home. On the Cats forum, there's a huge discussion brewing about cat cloning. As you might imagine, hardly anyone supports the idea. Wallaby77 makes a pretty good point when he says:

It totally baffles me how someone can think that buying a 50 000$ cat that looks exactly like the deceased pet will bring anything more in their life that any other cat could... If the person keeps expecting the new cat to act like the old one, there's gonna be a lot of frustration for everyone involved!

I tend to agree with the anti-cloning crowd, but I can see both sides of this issue. Will any other cat ever be as handsome or as sweet as my boys? Will I ever be able to have the same bond with another cat that I have with Arthur when he comes and rests his head on my lap? Will another cat meow for attention in the same endearing way that Beowulf does? They are truly a work of art, but to me it seems disrespectful to Arthur and Beowulf to pretend that a cat identical in appearance could replace them. They are truly one of a kind.


Thumper said...

I can see both sides, too...I've had cats I would love to have the virtual twins of. And a person's money is theirs to do with as they wish, that part of it is no one else's business. If she'd blown the money on a sports car, no one would be saying "well, she could have gotten a Hyundau Accent, and then bought 4 more for other deserbving people." It's her money. However she got it, she doesn't have to justify how she spends it.

But I wonder if the woman who had her cat cloned realizes there were probably a dozen other "defective" clones created and killed before she got her kitty out of the deal. That's my issue..."imperfect" animals are created and destroyed before they can get that one animal that a person will want.

When Max is gone, as Dusty went before him, and Ataturk before that, I'll mourn for a while, and surely get a new cat. Not to replace him, because you just can't do that, but because my life without a cat isn't as fun as a life with one. I used to worry that I'd never love a cat as much as Dusty, until we got Max (rescue situation) and I realized that I could, and it was ok. Max is totally different--and that helps.

But clone him? Even if there was a 100% guarantee that there would be a viable clone on the first try, and as much as I'd love his twin, I don't think I'd do it. It's like the Highlander saying... There can be only one.

It would look like Max, might even act like Max, but it wouldn't BE Max.

Wendy said...

Our pets, like people, are each one of a kind.
How many identical twins have you known, and seen that each is a unique individual?
A clone is just an identical twin, only one who is subjected to a very different environment both in utero and in being raised, since it is years apart from their "original," unlike identical twins who grow in the same womb and are raised together.

I really think there will be significant differences in every way from the original - appearance, personality, etc.

We loved our first cat enormously, and Rich really didn't think she could be replaced. She wasn't, our present cat is her own person and we love her for herself. Our next cat will also be an individual we love.

Vive le difference! Part of the fun is getting to know the new cat and growing together. Our present cat doesn't have some of the annoying habits our old cat had, she has her own set! And her own set of endearing habits, like resting her head in my hand as we sleep, and curling up around my arm like I am her kitty sister.

socidoc said...

Hey folks! Cloned cats are NOT identical in appearance to the original! Something happens (I'm not a geneticist, and I'm not sure what) and they simply are not identical. So, not only would you NOT have an identical cat in appearance, in my understanding, the animals which have been cloned so far have their own health problems, including the fact they tend to live shorter lives than average. I agree... I think pet cloning is absurd, incredibly selfish and narcissistic and even sinful. And it doesn't even produce a twin!

Timmy said...

I know you already mentioned this but...methinks this cloning thing is for the birds! Why spend $50,000 when there are some lovely poodies like me, Beowulf and Arthur just waiting to be adopted for $40!?

Anonymous said...

And there is the genetics vs. environment issue. All our cats were strays or feral. Wouldn't a different environment in their kittenhood produce a different personality between original and clone? Would a cloned Mr. Scaredy Cat allow us to pet him when the original won't?

Anonymous said...

Cloning cats is a terrible idea! Something that doesn't get talked about too much in pop genetics is the fact that cloning an animal from another grown animal actually starts that poor clone off in its new life with aged DNA. This is why Dolly died at age 6 with conditions like arthritis typical of older sheep.

Anonymous said...