WASHINGTON -- Researchers in Texas on Thursday said they had produced the first-ever cat through cloning, a button-cute, domestic short-haired kitten named CC for "carbon copy."
Where every other cat in history has had two parents, CC's genetic material comes from a single adult cat, named Rainbow. CC was born through Caesarean section on Dec. 22 in a laboratory at Texas A&M University.
As a scientific matter, CC's birth confirms that cloning is a durable technology that can be applied to many species, and perhaps one day to man. But the bigger impact may come from the fact that CC is the first companion animal to be created through cloning, paving the way for pet cloning to become a commercial service.
A private company, Texas-based Genetic Savings & Clone, has the right to license the Texas A&M cloning technique. The company said Thursday that it would take at least a year to perfect the service.
Hundreds of pet owners have already paid fees of $800 or more merely to save cells from their pets for cloning, suggesting there is a strong demand for the service.
But CC could add to the sense that scientists, if not strictly regulated, will inevitably produce a human clone.
Moreover, several animal welfare groups say cat cloning is ill-advised, given that millions of animals are euthanized each year at shelters.
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