When the world's first cloned cat appeared in 2002, headline writers were jumping for joy. The phrase 'copy-cat' turned up in hundreds of publications all over the world.
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Copy-Cat aka Cc
Cc first set a paw on terra firma in December 2001, though her birth wasn't announced until the following February. Her name is an acronym of the project that created her - Copy Cat.
The cloned cat was a triumph for the scientists involved as the reproductive cloning of cats had proved to be extremely difficult in the past. Cc was created by the now familiar process of nuclear transfer. An enucleated egg (an egg with the genetic material taken out of it) is fused with the genetic material from a donor cell. To create Cc scientists from Texas A&M University used two different types of donor cells; skin cells from the donor's mouth and cumulus cells, which are involved in the development of the egg.
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The cloning technology was still reasonably inefficient, similar to other attempts to clone animals, including Dolly the sheep.
87 kitten embryos were created; 84 from skin cells and 3 from cumulus cells. The embryos were implanted into eight surrogate mothers, which resulted in two pregnancies. One fetus stopped developing during gestation and Cc was eventually born by caesarian. Tests later confirmed that Cc was a clone of the cumulus cells.
Though the cloned cat's name stands for copy cat, it turned out that she looked nothing like her donor. Though a genetic identical twin, the donor, Rainbow, has tortoise shell and brown fur and Cc has a striped grey coat. So epigenetically something must have happened to give her such a stark difference in appearance.
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Cloned Cat Gives Birth
Cc the cloned cat became a mum in December 2006 and there wasn't a laboratory or test tube in sight. She had mated entirely naturally with Smokey, a naturally born Tabby. The result of their union was three healthy kittens. Two of them bore a resemblance to their mother and one to their father. Though she wasn't the first cloned cat to give birth, it was further proof that cloned animals could develop normally and give birth naturally.
Scientists have been monitoring Cc's health all her life, and to date there haven't been any reports of any health scares.
Though Cc seems to be healthy, there are still many wary of cloning technology. Despite that, advancements have been made and there have been many animals that have been cloned.