NEW YORK — A brave “mew” world came to Madison Square Garden on Saturday as a pair of frisky feline clones stole the limelight at New York’s annual two-day cat show.
Making 10-minute appearances on the half-hour, Tabouleh and Baba Ganoush, produced by the California-based firm Genetics Savings & Clone, seemed normal by any measure -- frolicsome, curious and cute, all but oblivious to gawking onlookers.
Despite the presence of hundreds of other cats, from American Bobtails and Bombays to the leopard-like Ocecats, startled-looking Korats or the ubiquitous Persians, the clones swiped center stage.
Previous cat shows, sponsored by the Cat Fanciers’ Association, have been dominated by the stubby-legged Munchkins or the Sphynx, a hairless breed that seems to either fascinate or repel cat lovers everywhere.
$50,000 price tag
The pair of Bengals are only the second and third-ever cloned cats, although company CEO Lou Hawthorne said his company has also produced Peaches, an 8-1/2-week-old clone, and would boast a total kitty clone output of nine by year’s end.
Most show visitors on Saturday seemed comfortable with the option of cloning a beloved pet, which Genetics Savings & Clone promises will look nearly identical to the original, but will only have “similar” behavioral characteristics, since environment teams with genetics to influence behavior.
Hawthorne said the company had five cat cloning clients, but he predicted that business would surge once the price --now $50,000 -- came down. Breeders, he added, were expected to be an especially big market.
Judging will continue on Sunday, culminating with the best-in-show award.
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