When Dolly, the sheep that was the first cloned animal, was born in early 1997, some scientists and investors began to see dollar signs.
They imagined a rich market of show dog breeders and wealthy people with beloved pets clamoring for the services.
What they didn’t take into account was the human spirit and the relationship people have with their animals. Breeders of show dogs are generally not looking to duplicate a champion; they dream of breeding one even better.
Cloning pets presents other problems. Many owners are resistant to the idea of duplicating their pets. Then there is the problem of understanding what a clone is.
Only four dogs have been cloned, but cat cloning is becoming a business to produce a clone for only $50,000 (although I hear some labs are running 40% off sales).
But here’s the thing about cloning cats.
The first cat, CC (Carbon Copy) was cloned by transplanting DNA from Rainbow, a female calico cat, into an egg cell and implanting the embryo into a surrogate mother.
This picture was taken a year after the birth. Rainbow (left) is gold and black on white, but CC has a striped gray coat on white. Changes in coloration occur in the uterus.
Not only is their appearance different, but according to this msnbc story their cat behavior and personalities are also quite different. In other words when a cat is cloned, the DNA will be the same, but it won’t necessarily look or act like the original.
Rainbow looks and acts very much like my calico cat Taki, who wandered into our lives off the street as a teenage stray a few years ago. She is a great cat, affectionate and fearless.
If I were to pay to have her cloned, I’d want her same personality and behavior. I’d want her coloring and markings down to the tiny white patch on her back and the tan spot on her front leg. Or I’d want my money back.
There are a lot of great pets at animal shelters. All they need is a chance.