by Lea Filson
a chilly winter day and as I write this, Sinclair is curled up against
the warmest part of my computer. I look at him and marvel at how much
his companionship has meant to me. It reminds me to tell you how you can
also enjoy the comforts of a cat.
There lives an extraordinary group of cats in an atmosphere of warmth
and discovery in New Orleans. Together they are loved and pampered by
night, but by day they work for a living. These exceptional felines, you
see, are contributing their many talents and bodies to science.
The Audubon Nature Institute's Center for Research of Endangered Species
is the place they call home. It is this very group of American Domestic
moms that made headline news after one of them "produced" an
African Wildcat named 'Jazz'. Adored and watched with interest by the
world, 'Jazz' made headlines as the world's first wildcat born through
an interspecies frozen/thawed embryo transfer. Freezing a wildcat embryo
in liquid nitrogen, thawing it and then implanting it into the domestic
cat surrogate accomplished the birth. 'Jazz's' mother, as well as all
the other domestic cats that played a part in this new science, today
live quietly, peacefully, and privately out of the limelight. Little does
it matter to them that their important work is saving an entire species
from becoming extinct.
From the same group of domestic cats the world's first cloned exotic cats
have joined the universe. Ditteaux was clone number one, followed by Miles,
Katie, and Madge. There are even cloned exotic cat triplets that have
moved on to Audubon Zoo. All are celebrated and photographed and watched
with interest as they grow.
The plain, domestic Mama cats that produced these wonders of nature remain
at the Center for Research of Endangered Species. Some have been used
as surrogate mothers for small endangered cats. Others have been given
periods of rest between the work assignments being done there. All have
continued to receive the love and respect they deserve.
The beautiful domestic cats of varied colors, personalities, and ages
have toiled through adventure together at the Center, but the time has
come for them to move on. They are ready now for loving homes with owners
who will give them grateful appreciation for their work toward the betterment
of the world through science. Each mother cat has been spayed and vaccinated,
and hopes daily for the chance to live in a real home with soft pillows,
good food, and toys.
Every cat that has lived on this Earth has contributed its share of lessons
to mankind. But imagine owning one that has also contributed to science?
Once a decision has been made to welcome one of these creatures full of
wonder, how interesting it would be to share one's home with a companion
animal that has a history of accomplishment.
"This is my cat," you could say with pride, "and she was
part of the group of cats that "produced" the world's first
cloned exotic cat!" Even Sinclair, my muse and the light of my life,
would have trouble trumping this statement. As I look at him, he yawns
and gives me an understanding gaze. He knows what I'm writing and hopes
for homes for his feline friends patiently waiting at the Center for Research
of Endangered Species.
Under the direction of Dr. Betsy Dresser who runs the Center, Stella Sullivan
has been put in charge of determining if your home is acceptable for one
of these amazing felines. If you have an interest in exploring the possibility
of owning one of these cats, she would love to discuss it with you. Call
her today at 504/398-3125.
Send your animal
photos and stories to:
Sinclair and Lea
P.O. Box 51721
New Orleans, LA 70151-1721