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‘Cc:’ The first cloned kitten
Edward R. Winstead


Scientists have created the first genetic clone of a cat. The kitten, called 'Cc:', was vigorous at birth and appears healthy and normal, according to the researchers. Cc: was delivered by caesarian section on December 22, 2001.

Nuclear-donor cat and cloned kitten with its surrogate mother. View larger

The cat is the first pet to be cloned. Felis domesticus joins the ranks of other species—sheep, mice, cattle, goats, and pigs—that have been cloned through a technique called nuclear transfer. This technique involves transferring DNA from a donor cell into an egg whose nucleus has been removed.

Mark Westhusin, of Texas A&M University in College Station, and colleagues carried out 188 such nuclear transfer procedures using DNA from the skin cells of an adult male cat. This resulted in 82 cloned embryos, which were transferred into seven recipient females. One of the females became pregnant, but the fetus did not fully develop.

Success ultimately came when the researchers modified their strategy, using a different type of cell from an adult female three-colored (tortoiseshell or calico) cat. Out of 87 implanted cloned embryos, Cc: was the only one to survive. This success rate is comparable to that of previous cloning studies. The new research is reported in Nature.

The kitten's coat is not exactly like that of her donor mother. This is because, during development, both genetic and non-genetic factors influence the pigment and pattern of multicolored animals such as calico cats. The researchers used DNA testing to confirm that Cc: was indeed a genetic clone.

See related GNN article on cloning
»Endangered wild sheep clone reported to be healthy

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Shin, T. et al. A cat cloned by nuclear transplantation. Nature 415, 859 (February 21, 2002). Published online February 14, 2002.

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