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Engineering an Allergen-Free Cat

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The NY Times reports an entrepreneur in upstate New York wants to engineer a cat without the protein that causes allergic reactions in 60 to 90 percent of sensitive people. He plans to sell sterilized animals for up to $1000. (Free registration required to access that site.)

Prepare for more of this sort of thing in the decade ahead. Genetic engineering is only in its infancy.

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Your rating: None

My wife and one of my sons are allergic to cats, so cat ownership has never been an option in my house.

Recently we were visiting a friend's house. They had a cat whom they referred to as a mutant (we just called him hypo-allergenic); he doesn't produce any dander and his hair doesn't have the microscopic barbs most cat hair does (they are the reason cat hair clings to upholstery). Robert (our cat-allergic son) was seen carrying the cat around with a big smile on his face. He'd come to enjoy cats--from a distance--and it was the first time in his life he'd been able to actually play with one without ill effects.

Regrettably, our friends had had the cat neutered before they discovered his anomaly. We wondered if there were others and if it would be possible to breed them. It would appear the answer is yes, though a $1000 price tag would be a little steep for us.

Mwalimu

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Great, now we can have designer pets. Just the thing to replace your 5 mile-per-gallon, $70,000 Lexus SUV.

This just isn't right.

-Feren
"We use them for divine retribution."

Your rating: None

That depends on how they're designing the pets. If it involves high-tech genetic manipulation, then yes, I see your point. But if it's simply breeding cats for a particular characteristic, well, that's no different than what we've been doing with domestic animals for centuries. How do you think all of these various breeds of dogs, cows, etc., came about?

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