15 years later, cloned cat continues to impress A&M researchers

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BRAZOS COUNTY, Tex. (KBTX) - 15 years ago, Texas A&M accomplished something deemed incredible at the time. Researchers successfully cloned a cat. Now, a decade and a half later, that cat is living a comfortable life in the Brazos Valley.

A converted two story shed is the place of retirement for a world famous cat. Despite being created in a lab, CC is just like our furry friends at home.

"Some people call her Copy Cat and some people Clone Cat," Dr. Duane Kraemer said. He prefers to call her CC. The senior professor at Texas A&M brought the animal to life in a laboratory.

"She is friendly a good bit of the time, but she's also a fairly independent kitty. She doesn't like everybody to handle her and so forth, but right now she seems to like it," he said, holding CC. The accomplishment made headlines around the world. Researchers tried over and over, nearly 80 times, to clone embryos.

KBTX was there in January 2003, when CC was just a kitten. Back then, scientists didn't know how long she would live. In that story, Kraemer stressed that the brand new process wouldn't bring back a beloved pet.

"We've been trying to stress for years now that this is reproduction, not resurrection and this is a good way to illustrate that," said Kraemer, in that 2003 story. CC gave birth to three kittens.

"She didn't look a lot like her big sister, but she was genetically identical," Kramer said. One of the big concerns from scientists was that a cloned cat wouldn't have good health. CC has proven them wrong.

"They thought since they started off the cells as an adult, that it would live less. It’s pretty well been proven to not be the case and CC is a good example of that. She lives as long as most cats live," Kraemer said.

A private company called Genetic Savings and Clone helped fund the research. Kraemer tells us Viagen now offers cloning of dogs and cats and has the patents.

"My big concern was that people would think they are going to get their animal back, but they don't get their animal back," Kraemer explained.

"They get the genetics, but the genes are used differently. I would say that, if you want to get an animal that looks really like the original, best thing to do would be to go to the pound and search for one that looks alike," he suggested.

Viagen, the pet cloning company has offices in Cedar Park. Cat cloning costs $25,000 while dogs are $50,000.