- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
In an advance that takes cloning out of the barnyard and into the living room, researchers announced yesterday they have cloned a cat.
The female domestic shorthair is called "cc" for "copycat." It was born Dec. 22 and is now healthy and frisky, researcher Duane Kraemer of Texas A&M; University at College Station said.
Headed by Dr. Mark Westhusin of A&M;'s veterinary medicine school, the project is the first reported success in cloning household pets. Many people have already stored cells from their pets in anticipation of cloning, Mr. Kraemer said.
"It looks like there will probably be quite a lot of interest," he said.
But a cloned pet won't necessarily be a carbon copy in appearance to the original. The calico kitten differs from its genetic donor in its color pattern because such coloring is not strictly determined by the lineup of genes.
"This is a reproduction," Mr. Kraemer said, "not a resurrection."
Apart from difference in appearance, pet-cloning proponents also say pet owners should realize a new clone won't come equipped with a ready-made bond to the owner or carry other memories.
But Mr. Kraemer and Randall Prather, an animal cloner at the University of Missouri who wasn't involved in the Texas project, say cloning cats could offer benefits to more than just pet owners.
It could help research that uses cats for learning about human diseases, they said. Mr. Kraemer noted that cats are used in neurological research, and that a colleague wanted cat clones to help in AIDS research.
Moreover, the work could help in preserving endangered cat species, they said.
But Wayne Pacelle, senior vice president for the Humane Society of the United States, called the new advance "unfortunate news." Scientists should be moving away from using animals in research, and the biggest problem endangered cat species face is habitat destruction, he said.
As for people who would like a new version of a deceased cat, Mr. Pacelle said many communities have too many cats for too few homes, and cat cloning "goes in the opposite direction of where we need to be."
People whose cats have died should "go through a grieving process, and then go to a shelter and embrace another companion" for their household, he said.
The kitty clone was the team's only success after transferring 87 cloned embryos into eight female cats. Overall, the success rate was comparable to that seen in other cloned species, the researchers said. Other mammals cloned before include sheep, cattle, goats, pigs and mice.
The researchers tried cloning with two types of cells from adult cats. The lone success came in one of the attempts using cumulus cells, which are found in the ovary, from "Rainbow," an adult member of the university's cat colony.


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