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Cloned Cat Gets Mixed Reaction - 2002-02-16

Researchers at Texas A&M University have cloned a pet cat, the first-ever successful copy of a household pet. The news is getting mixed reactions from the public.

The researchers named the calico "CC," short for "copycat." And aside from a slightly different fur coat than her mother, CC is an exact genetic match of her parent. She is now eight weeks old, frisky, and healthy.

This breakthrough makes researchers and entrepreneurs excited. CEO of Genetic Savings and Clone Lou Hawthorne said marketing research and intuition tell him people want cloning services for their pets. "Over the last few years while we've been doing dog cloning research with [Texas] A&M [University], we've been besieged with thousands of emails and phone calls from people that say they want this, cats and dogs," he said.

But there is a large group of people who don't want this. Animal rights groups say they already have enough trouble controlling the pet population. Senior Vice President of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, said animal shelters across the country are troubled by the report. "The practice of cloning is dangerous for the animals involved and it does not help in the larger sense when we have too many cats," he said. "There's just no need for this. Why do we need to clone cats? It's not as if the cloning provides an exact duplicate of the animal. Each animal, even a cloned animal, would have a distinctive personality."

Even one of the lead scientists involved in the research, Dwayne Kramer, said cloning would provide "reproduction," not "resurrection." But, he said, it would give people new options. "Well we should be encouraging adoption, but it doesn't mean that it should be the only alternative," he said. "People should have pets that they want. That's important. And if cloning a pet gives them what they want, then it seems to me that cloning has its merits."

Lou Hawthorne says it will take time before companies will actually begin cloning people's pets, because researchers want every clone to come out perfectly. But his Genetic Savings and Clone company already has stored frozen eggs for pet owners who say they want their animals cloned.