Friday, December 24, 2004

The Copy Cat Conundrum

There's been a lot of discussion in the news lately about a Texas woman who paid $50,000.00 to a California cloning company, (called Genetic Savings & Clone, for Heaven's sake!) for a cloned copy of her dead cat, Nicky. Most of the debate has centered around the moral and ethical issues that inevitably grow out of any story about cloning. My thoughts, however, meandered in another direction: I couldn't help wondering what the lady with the spare 50k was thinking.

Okay, I can certainly understand her grief after losing a beloved pet who had been a member of the family for 17 years. We had a cat, Bandit, who died after being with us for 14 years. It broke my heart when she died. But following a reasonable period of bereavement, we went out and bought another cat. She ain't Bandit- she has her own ways and mannerisms and preferences- but she's a nice cat and we're happy with her.

That's the way it's going to be with Nicky II. He may look like Nicky and he'll have Nicky's DNA but that's where the resemblance will end. This new cat, like most sentient creatures, will be shaped by his environments and experiences. He won't have Nicky's memories. He might even respond to things very differently than his predecessor. I can envision Nicky II turning his nose up at the fresh salmon that Nicky salivated over. (You can bet this isn't an owner who feeds her baby Meow Mix.)

As a matter of fact, I wonder what kind of documentation the cloning company provided that cat owner to authenticate Nicky II's true kinship to the late feline? Call me a cynic, but how difficult would it be to find a nine-week-old kitten resembling the dearly departed Nicky?

How can you trust a company called Genetic Savings & Clone?


At December 26, 2004 1:43 AM, Blogger RedRyder said...

If they brought the price down on cat cloning I'd be more interested. $1.27 plus tax sounds about right for a cat. But fifty g's...sheesh.

At December 30, 2004 9:49 PM, Blogger invadesoda said...

Great post (and title)! They were interviewing the cloning company on BBC World Service on the radio the other day. He claimed he discouraged clients from thinking that the new pet would have the same personality as the old pet and compared it to a twin. I didn't realize she had paid $50,000 though. Maybe this expensive twin was like a high-tech toy to show off.

At January 02, 2005 7:58 PM, Blogger Morgaine said...

Their going to have to do some cloning before we now what happens with a clone. First, my understanding is that animal DNA isn't as individual as human DNA. Second, it would be interesting to see how much is nature, how much nurture. I've read that clones seem to be "born old" and don't live long. I also wonder about spirit/personality/consciousness-- whether any of it carries over.


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