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Biotech

Hypo-Allergenic Cats Now Available for Pre-Order 744

Posted by michael
from the get-them-while-they're-hot dept.
humuhumunukunukuapu' writes "Allerca Inc is now taking reservations for genetically engineered hypo-allergenic cats, which it calls 'lifestyle pets'... and apparently they are just the beginning... Read the press release here... and you can take delivery of a cuddy non-sinus bothering bundle of joy for just $3500. 'The hypoallergenic cats produced by ALLERCA will allow consumers to enjoy the love and companionship of a pet without the cost, inconvenience, risk, and limited effectiveness of current allergy treatments. Clients will take delivery of the first ALLERCA kittens in 2007. The hypoallergenic cat is the first of a planned series of lifestyle pets that ALLERCA will develop over the next few years.' Meow!"
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Hypo-Allergenic Cats Now Available for Pre-Order

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:53PM (#10635635)
    Who would want to own a cat?

    Sincerely,
    A Dog Person
    • by Nos. (179609) <{ac.srrekeht} {ta} {werdna}> on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:00PM (#10635739) Homepage
      You're obviously not a cat person. Every cat person knows that nobody owns a cat. The cat will accept your presence in their home, provided you clean their litter box, provide food and water, and attention when requested
      • by Anonymous Coward
        If I'm paying $3500, I better well damn own the thing.
      • by Vainglorious Coward (267452) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:09PM (#10635851) Journal
        I've heard this expressed as "dogs have owners; cats have staff"
        • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by iso (87585) <slash@waFORTRANr ... o minus language> on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @09:29PM (#10638042) Homepage
          I've heard this before, and chuckled. But after hearing co-workers say things like "nah, I can't go out for drinks: I need to go home and let the dog out," and watching people walk behind a dog and pick up its shit off the ground, I wonder sometimes, which animal really has the staff?
        • "You can own a dog but you can only feed a cat..."

          More on topic, this genetically enhanced cat is a good idea. I've had cats and dogs until I was 16. Then I moves to the city away from my parents. Upon returning after a month away... I was allergic to the cat ! I've kept this allergy and although I like to pet my current neighbor's cat I can't have one nearby for long. Yes, I know you can shower your cat daily to greatly disminish the allergens, but I think it's probably a lot more life-threatening to cle

      • by dheltzel (558802) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:14PM (#10635921)
        Maybe after they have the allergy thing covered, they can genetically engineer a better disposition for the cats.

        Imagine a Siamese with a pleasant disposition! Maybe they could splice in some dog genes to get a cat that wags it's tail and plays fetch.

        While they are at it, they might as well add that "glow in the dark" gene they put in fish. That would give the little critters they hunt at night a fighting chance. It would be really cool at Halloween too, I'd like a black cat that flouresces red or purple.

        • by mikael (484) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:36PM (#10636188)
          While they are at it, they might as well add that "glow in the dark" gene they put in fish.

          An excellent idea. Trying to find my way across our basement in order to reset the cutout switch during a thunderstorm is like trying to walk across a minefield of highly mobile furry landmines. Put a foot on the wrong place and there is a sudden load noise followed by a sharp pain in your leg.
        • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:3, Informative)

          by WormholeFiend (674934)
          magine a Siamese with a pleasant disposition! Maybe they could splice in some dog genes to get a cat that wags it's tail and plays fetch.

          I had a Siamese cat a few years ago that acted pretty much like a dog. He'd fetch balls of crumpled paper for me, and he had quite a pleasant disposition too. He didn't wag his tail though. To catch my attention, he'd run around the house for momentum, then jump onto the back rest of a sofa, grip it with his front claws, then release.

          When I saw him fly and spin across t
      • by yo303 (558777)
        A dog ponders his relationship with man: "He feeds me, he loves me, he takes care of all my needs... He must be God."

        A cat thinks: "He feeds me, loves me, takes care of me. I must be God."

        yo.

    • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:04PM (#10635790) Homepage Journal
      For $6,500 I'll sell you a cat with the exact genome of a dog. Everyone wins! Your girlfriend gets to have a cat. You enjoy the animal because it acts and looks like a dog. And I get enough money to pay for October's bandwidth.
  • by SIGALRM (784769) * on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:53PM (#10635636) Journal
    The hypoallergenic cat is the first of a planned series of lifestyle pets that ALLERCA will develop over the next few years
    My sincere hope is, Allerca [allerca.com] will someday engineer a Yorkie that won't constantly pee on my carpet. Now that would be marketable. Cute yes... but Yorkies are damn monster sprinklers.

    </wishfulthinking>
    • My sincere hope is, Allerca will someday engineer a Yorkie that won't constantly pee on my carpet. Now that would be marketable. Cute yes... but Yorkies are damn monster sprinklers.

      Real simple solution: Don't buy your dog. Purebreds are much, much, much more likely to have genetic problems (like a weak bladder, bad temperment) than mixed breeds. Next time, visit your local shelter or rescue and rescue a nice mutt. You'll be much happier.
      • A weak bladder is usually the result of poor housetraining, or in the case of many bitches, being spayed too young. One thing a vet will never tell you about getting a bitch spayed is that if you do it before they're a year old, it causes hormonal imbalances that lead to severe bladder control problems. The bladder control problems can be controlled with medication, but the best solution is to wait until the dog is a year old to spay.

        Disclaimer - I do not oppose spaying and neutering pets, just doing it wh
  • Hyper-Allergenic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fembots (753724) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:53PM (#10635637) Homepage
    Wait until one mistake that turns these cute little kittens into Hyper-Allergenic.

    On a more serious note though, I think everybody has her/his ideal world in mind, and this GE is offering the opportunity to achieve that.

    However, like the old saying "One person's meat is another person's poison", I believe there is a reason for such allergy symptoms (maybe telling your body to get away from that bleeming cat?), and without this warning, I wonder if the still-allergic-to-cat person will suffer from far worse sickness because one of the cat allergens wasn't identified and removed?
    • Re:Hyper-Allergenic (Score:5, Informative)

      by Carnildo (712617) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:56PM (#10635698) Homepage Journal
      However, like the old saying "One person's meat is another person's poison", I believe there is a reason for such allergy symptoms (maybe telling your body to get away from that bleeming cat?), and without this warning, I wonder if the still-allergic-to-cat person will suffer from far worse sickness because one of the cat allergens wasn't identified and removed?

      An allergy, by definition, is an inappropriate immune reaction to a harmless substance. The only thing an allergic reaction is telling you is that your immune system screwed up. Again.
      • by Total_Wimp (564548)
        An allergy, by definition, is an inappropriate immune reaction to a harmless substance. The only thing an allergic reaction is telling you is that your immune system screwed up. Again

        Boy, couldn't disagree more. Evolution doesn't allow such things in they types of numbers we're experiencing. They symptom is almost certainly there for a reason, albeit a reason we may not now fathom.

        That's the real problem with genetic engineering. We can only account for what we know or think we know. Evolution accou
        • by Kenshin (43036)
          Evolution doesn't allow such things in they types of numbers we're experiencing.

          Evolution doesn't account for modern living.

          In theory, poeple with severe allergies (or similar conditions) would be wiped out by natural selection, removing that from the gene pool. But our standards of life nowadays allow people to lead full lives that they wouldn't be able to otherwise.
        • Re:Hyper-Allergenic (Score:5, Informative)

          by sugar and acid (88555) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @06:03PM (#10636478)
          Wrong. The immune system is a very powerful system in our bodies that is simply designed to identify nasty pathogens in our body, and kill them with extreme prejudice. Now an allergy is simply an inappropriate reaction by the immune system something that is present in the environment but is not actually a risk to us, like pollen and food. Basically through some process that is not well understood the immune system was supposed to learn that these things are not a threat and should be ignored, except they often are not. Even more extreme example of the immune system making a complete balls up is autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes and ms, where the immune system gets so wayward it actually attacks the body itself and kills off some important component, for example the cells that make insulin.
    • by eln (21727) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:57PM (#10635705) Homepage
      Wait until one mistake that turns these cute little kittens into Hyper-Allergenic.

      Don't worry, I hear as long as you don't feed them after midnight, everything will be fine.
  • well (Score:4, Funny)

    by syrinx (106469) * on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:53PM (#10635638) Homepage
    I, for one, welcome our new genetically-engineered cat overlords.
  • $3500... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Big Mark (575945) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:54PM (#10635646)
    ...and you've still got to housetrain the bastard.
  • Now... (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarkHelmet (120004) * <.mark. .at. .seventhcycle.net.> on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:54PM (#10635649) Homepage
    If only they'd genetically engineer fashion models to like nerds... Overweight fetishes are a plus.
  • And what happens... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by advocate_one (662832) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:54PM (#10635653)
    when owners start breeding from them and selling on the kittens??? Will there be a strict EULA that forbids the owner from breeding and that they must have them neutered at the first available opportunity???
  • Sharks... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Psiren (6145) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:55PM (#10635661)
    Call me back when they have lasers on sharks. Then I'll be impressed...
  • Heh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Burgundy Advocate (313960) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:55PM (#10635671) Homepage
    without the cost

    RESTRICTIONS: 'Without cost' offer excludes $3,500 startup fee, prices and participation may vary.
  • All my family's cats are adopted. 3500 bucks would pay for my allergy medicine (not just to cat dander) for...a while. Probably longer than the lifetime of the cat.
  • by Thunderstruck (210399) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:56PM (#10635695)
    We got a cat, it was free... we named it 1.

    We did this for two reasons. First, if it has a number, we're less attached to it when the inevitable happens. Second, my wife was allergic to cats but we weren't sure how badly.

    If we had spent $3500 on a cat, we're then somehow obligated to spend $4000 on feline coronary bypass surgery, $8000 on a feline tummy-tuck, and $3000 on feline counseling services.... Where does this end?
  • $3500 for a kitty? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zemrec (158984)
    Damn. And I paid $65 for mine from the shelter, which included a vet check-up, all vaccines, and spaying.

    I assume this company will be neutering/spaying before they give them to their customers. Otherwise, people would just breed their own, and then sell the kittens.
  • Prior Art (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Racter (804902) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:57PM (#10635707)
    Cornish Rex
    Devon Rex
    Siberian
    Sphynx

    ...are all "hypo-allergenic" breeds (don't produce dander).
  • welcome our new hypo-allergenic feline masters. But seriously, the future is now. This is kinda cool and creepy at the same time, since this is the stuff I've seen only in cheesy science fiction movies.
  • ...until I can get a hyper allogenic BONSAI KITTEN!

    Of course, I don't understand why you care if your cat is alergic to stuff...
  • A bit pricey.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tji (74570) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @04:58PM (#10635726)
    From the site:

    Priced at $3,500, the cost of an ALLERCA kitten is similar or less than some of the more exotic cat breeds available today.

    Ummhh.. yeah.. But, it's a bit more than the "free kittens" we all see signs for throughout our home towns.

    • yeah but (Score:5, Funny)

      by commodoresloat (172735) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:59PM (#10636429)
      those cats might be free-as-in-beer, but they are not free-as-in-speech. Call me when there's an open source cat.

      Of course, the only truly free cat will be free-as-in-willy....

      • Many owners are not fully aware of the distinction between the furball, which is cat, and the whole animal, which they also call ``cat''. The ambiguous use of the name doesn't promote understanding. These users often think that Linus Torvalds bred the cat in 1991, with a bit of help.

        Owners generally know that cat is a furball. But since they have generally heard the whole animal called ``cat'' as well, they often envisage a history that would justify naming the whole animal after the furball. For example,
  • by TEMM (731243) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:00PM (#10635736)
    corporations genetically engineering my favorite foods.
  • Domestic pets who refrain from licking their balls in public?

    I shure hope so.

  • Glycoprotein (Score:2, Interesting)

    by killermookie (708026)
    So they're reducing the amount this gene is about to produce this protein. Is there a reason why cats produce this protein and by reducing it cause any health issues with the cat?
  • I like both cats and dogs but am allergic to the former. So while a cat that doesn't give me an asthma attack would be pretty cool, I find GE stuff to be distasteful at best. I'm sure this is self contradictory somewheres, but I don't think fiddling with an animals genome is a good idea. Hence my dilemma. Guess I'll stick with Option C then, and just enjoy the rottie;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:01PM (#10635758)
    For $3500, kitty better have at least 20GB of storage in her butt.
  • by EoRaptor (4083) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:02PM (#10635760)

    Breeders already have cats that are missing the allergen causing protein from their saliva.

    Bengal Cats and Siberian-Russians are two such breeds, and several unofficial subbreeds also fit the bill.

    Google if you want breed info, but Bengals are a short haired, very outgoing breed with great social skills and tons of energy. The also play fetch and are suprisingly clever. Siberian-Russians are a long haired breed who behave more like traditional cats, in that they can be fat and lazy all the way through to hyper.
  • I'm pretty optimistic about the future. I think I may find out, in my lifetime, if androids dream of electric sheep [philipkdick.com]!

    I do have a really bad joke on the mind that involves a New Zealander and electric sheep. However I won't share so that I can spare some peoples feelings...

  • by tji (74570) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:02PM (#10635763)
    So, are there other genetic changes they make to the cats? For example, making them infertile?

    Otherwise, how do they prevent people from buying a few of them, breeding them, and undercutting their market?

    I am allergic to cats, so I've never really considered getting one before. But, if these come down to the couple hundred dollar range, I might be interested. But, at $3,500/each, I think I'll instead go for that dual 2.5GHz G5 Mac.
  • In case you're a cat lover with allergies (like me) and not entirely fond of genetic engineering (also like me), there are a few breeds of cats that are naturally hypo-allergenic. We had a devon rex (http://www.cfainc.org/breeds/profiles/devon.html ) that never gave me any allergy problems. They look a little odd until you get used to them, but now all other cats just look strange to me. I believe there are other breeds as well (the cornish rex, for one) that play nice with your allergies.
    And the $3500 pri
  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:03PM (#10635779)

    ...dogs with dietary allergies.

    Seriously, if you are that hard up for companionship, $3500 will pay for some nice hookers.

  • Vapor...genetics? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FiReaNGeL (312636) <fireang3l@nOsPAM.hotmail.com> on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:03PM (#10635784) Homepage
    "Clients will take delivery of the first ALLERCA kittens in 2007. The hypoallergenic cat is the first of a planned series of lifestyle pets that ALLERCA will develop over the next few years."

    Notice the "will develop". Notice the 2007 date. Notice the high price tag. Genetic engineering is not like building a car. It's unpredictable. At this point, their 'research' is vaporware at best.

    "A glycoprotein, Fel d 1, secreted by the sebaceous glands, is the major cat allergen. This allergen is found in the fur, pelt, saliva, serum, urine, mucous, salivary glands, and hair roots of the cat.

    Using patented genetic technology, the ALLERCA team will focus on the particular gene that produces the Fel d 1 glycoprotein. Using a technique known as "gene silencing", the process reduces the gene's ability to produce the protein."

    Will silencing this protein have undesirable effects? Nobody knows. And it's only the 'major' allergen, not the only one.

    I wouldn't be betting 3500$ on this at the moment. Altought its a cute idea. Cats as guinea pigs for genetic engineering anyone?
    • RESERVATIONS (Score:3, Informative)

      I wouldn't be betting 3500$ on this at the moment.

      Me neither. But if I could afford $3500 for a cat, I might be willingly to bet the amount they are actually requesting for a deposit ($250):

      "Please note that reservations require a deposit of $250 that will apply to the purchase price. On completion of your online reservation, we will provide you with an attractive personalized ALLERCA Reservation Certificate."
  • Just build up a tollerance to the cat.

    Since I was young, I've been extremely alergic to anything with fur. Guinnea pigs, gerbils, dogs, cats, you name it.

    I had to get rid of a Guinnea pig because I broke out in hives.

    I got a dog when I was about 13, and even though it killed my alergies for a while, I got used to it. Now I have 3 dogs and a cat, and none bother my alergies.

    Alergies are an extreme response from the body to a foreign substance. By building up a tolerance, the body reacts less extremely
  • by Autumnmist (80543) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:08PM (#10635841)
    From their site:
    A glycoprotein, Fel d 1, secreted by the sebaceous glands, is the major cat allergen. This allergen is found in the fur, pelt, saliva, serum, urine, mucous, salivary glands, and hair roots of the cat.

    Allerca cats will only lack one of the potential cat allergens... potentially deadly for people allergic to other proteins secreted by the cats. In addition, the gene silencing technique (I assume they refer to RNAi perhaps using siRNAs) cannot be guaranteed 100% effective--all it takes is one mutation.... More info about RNAi here [miami.edu] and here [nature.com].

    However, as someone with moderately severe cat allergies, this is definitely a start.
  • by fanatic (86657) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:12PM (#10635895)
    Clients will take delivery of the first ALLERCA kittens in 2007.

    From the first hit on Google searching for cat gestation:

    "Cats generally have pregnancies lasting from 58 to 65 days".

    So the fact that the first one won't "ship" until 2007 is a bad sign. Anybody sending these folks money now, *please* contact me for a great deal on a bridge.

    • Maybe they are breeding a bunch of them so that they can sell a lot of them on their initial offering. Maybe they are testing them to make sure they don't come up with hyper-allergens later in life. There are plenty of reasons they may delay "shipping" these cats other than the fact that they don't have them.
    • if you look at the crap you have to agree to it says that the $250.00 deposit is non-refundable whether or not they ever produce or deliver a cat. with that kind of agreement i wouldn't reserve one until i saw one with my own eyes.
  • by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:19PM (#10635981) Journal
    Totally useless.

    How about a cat that doesn't shed, a cat that sleeps AT NIGHT instead of during the day, a cat that doesn't s**t behind the couch when you piss it off, a cat that is hairball resistant, a cat that doesn't care if the bowl isn't exactly full, a cat that can actually decide if it wants to be inside or outside (as opposed to wanting both simultaneously), a cat that views keyboards as natural preditors, a cat that will not release any "presents" in the house until said "gift" is completely DEAD, a cat that will actually kill said "gifts" that get into your house by other means, a cat that'll bring home USEFUL things instead of the typical birds, rabbits, mice, frogs... a new lawnmower would be nice once in awhile, or maybe some PC hardware - but no, it's always half-dead stuff.

    THAT would be a cat worth a couple grand.
    • ... a cat that can actually decide if it wants to be inside or outside (as opposed to wanting both simultaneously) ...

      How do you think the Heisenberg Uncertainty Priciple was developed???

    • by back_pages (600753) <back_pages&cox,net> on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @06:52PM (#10636921) Journal
      My cat fits your ideal cat except for bringing you useful gifts - mine never brings anything.

      I treated him like a dog right from the beginning and that's how he acts. He'll even follow me around the neighborhood if he isn't stalking something. He doesn't jerk me around because he knows I'll win - if he gets picky about his food, it'll look a lot tastier tomorrow. If he can't decide whether or not to come in, it's easier to decide 4 hours from now. If I piss him off, he wakes me up at 5am rather than make a mess, because he ends up wearing the mess and if he doesn't clean himself up, he takes a shower with shampoo.

      I really don't understand why people baby their cats. I'm far from an expert on pets but I think a lot of a cat's personality is how they're socialized when young. Mine is pretty much the ideal cat because, I think, I made it really clear that I wasn't going to put up with the typical cat personality crap.

      Worth a couple grand? I dunno - mine cost me $5 at the local animal shelter. Hell, maybe he just came to grips with his own tender mortality at a young age and appreciates how I feed him and play with him.

  • Don't think so (Score:5, Informative)

    by signe (64498) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:26PM (#10636073) Homepage
    Yeah, I'm not buying it. Digging back, we find that Allerca claims to be owned by Geneticas [geneticas.com]. If we check out the other "companies" under that umbrella, we'll find Genequus [genequus.com], who claim to do horse cell banking and cloning. Yes, that's right. They'll sell you a clone of your horse for $100k. Discounts for 10 or more.

    Another one, LifeARK [lifeark.org], claims to be doing cell banking for endangered animals. They want donations, and they accept them through PayPal. Don't think so. A large company that was doing such work wouldn't deal with PayPal's onerous agreement and high fees. Especially not if their other divisions were dealing with large sums of money already.

    ForeverPet [foreverpet.com] does cell banking for companion pets. But they can't yet clone them. But another division can clone horses? Yeah, right.
  • by sanermind (512885) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @05:58PM (#10636419)
    The term 'hypoallergenic' is not meaningful in any scientific sense whatsoever.

    The FDA states that "There are no federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term 'hypoallergenic'." Back in 1973, they tried to establish definitions for the use of the term hypoallergenic, but the regulation was overturned in court.

    A little bit of googling returns this [fda.gov]

    It's a nonsense marketing claim, with no scientific standard or basis. People can be allergic to anything... even themselves. [www.hon.ch]

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