Cloning Homer

Two years ago, Ana and I suffered the tragedy of losing one of our kittens to a mysterious disease. The onset of feline leucopoenia (aka Cat Death, Cat Plague, Cat Typhus) was as sudden as it was swift, and little Homer died no more than two days after his first little kitty cough. The cat doctor told me of his passing at work and I spent most of the City Paper graveyard shift bouncing up and down an emotional roller coaster. The staff writers asked why I kept crying, and not wanting to admit the truth, I blamed it on bad grammar, on my inability to distinguish between “then” and “than,” to understand the different uses of “I” and “me.” The death of a kitten I’d adopted less than a week before, while sad, shouldn’t have sent my tear ducts into overdrive. But it did.

The mourning period, fortunately, lasted only a week. And I haven’t thought about Homer much since. That is, until last week, when I read about Tabouli and Baba Ganoush, 8-week-old Bengal kittens who are the world’s second and third cat clones. They’re dead ringers for Homer, with the same markings and size as when we adopted him. What’s more, the San Francisco company that created them, Genetic Savings and Clone, is now offering to clone any cat for the price of $50,000. Five customers have already signed up, and hundreds more are paying over $1,000 to preserve their cat’s tissue for future cloning. Alas, poor Homer went the way of the incinerator, so even if I wanted to loot the savings account, it’s not really an option.

And, just in case any Penn friends are wondering about Maxwell, my ill-fated border collie from college, your worst nightmare is about to come true. Dog cloning is next up on Genetic Savings agenda, and they expect to have a Maxwell puppy sometime in 2005.