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New York Times: Cat Lovers Lining Up for No-Sneeze Kitties

Jerome, if ever one of those kittens gets lost for good, something to consider...

A small California biotech company says it is ready to deliver the Holy Grail of the $35 billion pet industry: a hypoallergenic cat.

Two cats with a mutant gene that produces a modified protein far less likely to induce allergies.

At the start of next year, the first kittens -- which the company calls "lifestyle pets" -- will go home to eager owners who have been carefully screened and have been on a waiting list for more than two years.

Since it announced the project in October 2004, the company, Allerca, of San Diego, says it has received inquiries from people in 85 countries seeking to buy a cat bred so that its glands do not produce the protein responsible for most human cat allergies.

Cats ordered now will take 12 to 15 months for delivery in the United States, 15 to 18 months in Europe. Cost: $4,000. And owners must pass Allerca's finicky screening tests.

Prospective buyers are interviewed for motivation and warmth, approved as if they were adopting a child. Will they punish if kitty has an accident on the floor or scratches the furniture? Their families and their homes -- from carpets to curtains -- must also be evaluated for allergies and allergens.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 07:52:22 AM EST
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