Angels for Animals has hundreds of cats awaiting adoption at the shelter and in foster homes.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
GREEN TOWNSHIP -- Mr. Bighead is the "best cat in America."
Or so says the brown tabby's owner, Diane Less Baird.
"He is just so incredible," Less Baird said. "He's just the most affectionate, loving animal. ... He's the one in a million cat."
So, should this "best cat" be replicated?
"On him, I'd consider the clone job," Less Baird said with a smile.
Less Baird, president of Angels for Animals, rang in Saturday on newly released research that shows cats can be genetically cloned.
Cloned: Researchers in Texas last week announced that they had cloned a cat. The female domestic shorthair, called "cc" -- for "copycat" -- was born Dec. 22 and is healthy.
Headed by the Texas A & amp;M University veterinary medicine school, the project is the first reported cloning of a household pet. Genetic Savings & amp; Clone, the Texas company that funded the research, has been deluged with calls since the announcement Thursday.
Less Baird said she would understand if people showed interest in cloning.
"I've seen people who would do anything because they get attached to their pet," she said. "It's like their child."
But, "do we need more cats?" she asked. "From this point of view, no."
Lots of cats: There are 150 cats at the shelter and an additional 150 to 200 in foster homes awaiting adoption. Angels for Animals spays 1,000 adopted shelter cats each year and another 1,000 cats through other events, spending $70,000.
Bob Stine, who visited the shelter from Chester, W.Va., on Saturday said he can't understand why people would clone a pet.
While a clone has the same genetic makeup, it doesn't necessarily look the same as the original.
Still, Stine said he doesn't see anything wrong with it if people have the money and want a clone. And, after thinking about his pet cat Pinky, he said he might clone the animal if he had the money -- Pinky left with Stine's ex-wife after a divorce.
But the volunteers at Angels for Animals say there's no need for cat cloning. There are plenty of cats who need a home.
"We're not even talking about that here," said Becky Himes with a laugh, surrounded by dozens of cats in cages. "These cats all need good homes. How could I clone a cat?"
Kelly McCandless, who arranges spaying and neutering for adopted pets at the shelter, pointed out that a clone is "not the same cat" as an original. The clone would not recognize its owner or have the same attachments, memories or personality.
"We have so many cats here that need pet owners, ... why go to the cost and expense?" she asked. "To go to that expense when it's not going to be the pet they lost, it just doesn't make any sense."
XThe Associated Press contributed to this report.