First cloned cat ‘like any other’ 15 years later

Duane Kraemer sits with 15-year-old CC (Copy Cat), the first cat cloned in the world, at their home in rural Brazos County.

At the end of a long gravel road in East College Station, the world's first cloned cat -- now 15 years old -- lives in what longtime Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science researcher Duane Kraemer describes affectionately as a "kitty barn."

CC, also known as Copy Cat, was born in December 2001, the result of the 87th attempt at cloning a cat by Kraemer's lab at Texas A&M after several years of trying.

Kraemer, who recently retired from the university, said the success was simply the product of his team's work in pushing the boundaries of what is possible to accomplish.

Still considered among the crowning achievements of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Kraemer said he is proud the achievement has reflected so well on the university.

"It was certainly a pleasure to be a part of the team that did it," Kraemer said. "I seem to get a lot more credit than I deserve for it, but it is pleasing to go over to the veterinary school and see CC's pictures around."

When it comes to questions about CC, Kraemer said the most common is about her personality.

Outside of her unusual origins, Kraemer said CC is just like any other cat with a personality all her own.

"Most people somehow think personality is going to be cloneable, but its not," Kraemer said. "She acts like most any cat, but, of course, cats vary."

Kraemer said CC even had a litter of her own years ago with a male cat named Smokey -- a test to see if she was genetically capable of reproduction. Today, she lives in a small house built by Kraemer and located in his back yard alongside Smokey and her three offspring.

Eleanor M. Green, Carl B. King dean of veterinary medicine, said Kraemer's work is an intersection of the college's history of forward-looking work in the fields of genomics and reproductive biology.

"[Kraemer] has been a pioneer his entire career," said Green, noting that cloning CC is probably his best-known work.

"His work also has contributed to genomics becoming a rapidly evolving discipline, including unlimited potential to change the way health is viewed and addressed in both animals and people," she said.

Green said while "cloning was once considered science fiction," Texas A&M was "quick to master" the process. Today, university researchers have cloned a number of animals including cattle, pigs, deer, horses, goats and more.

Outside of Kraemer's work in cloning, Green said Kraemer has also contributed to "numerous societally important areas," including the study of reproductive control for invasive species and the protection of endangered species.

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