October 06, 2006
Coming Soon: Kitten with a EULA?

kittensThe NYT reports that a company by the name of Allerca has begun to offer genetically modified hypoallergenic cats. For a mere $4000 and a barrage of screening, you too can put your household on the list.

But wait, before you put your money down, there's a lengthy purchase agreement, including this odd restriction

Purchaser shall not sell or transfer any Cat purchased hereunder to anyone other than an immediate family member, and shall not offer to any person the purchase of a Cat or any genetic material from a Cat, the rights Purchaser may have under this Agreement, or any other right related hereto, without the Company’s express written authorization.

The Times likewise notes that "At 10 to 12 weeks, every Allerca kitten is neutered before it is delivered. The company insists this is mainly to prevent feline overpopulation. But every Allerca cat carries the dominant hypoallergenic gene and, in theory, could produce copycat hypoallergenic kittens."

"No reproduction" clauses have fast become standard for producers of genetically modified crops such as Monsanto's Roundup Ready, though even that development has its share of controversy. Patent rights or no, I think owners will balk at the thought of licensed housepets.

Posted by Wendy at October 06, 2006 11:03 AM | TrackBack

You know, if I remember correctly, Pets Unlimited, an adoption agency that provides, at least to the best of my knowledge, unmodified cats, also required my parents to sign a EULA, as well as to submit to a lengthy investigation.

Now, the EULA was more focused on providing the cat a good home and less on not transferring the cat's genetic material...but I do know that they neutered (and spayed) the cats as a matter of practice.

I'm not fully defending what Allerca is doing, but I can imagine (an would probably join) the outcry if they just gave a cat to anyone with $4000 dollars to spend on one.

Posted by: Bobbyg on October 6, 2006 12:06 PM

They're not genetically modified. They're the result of a selective breeding program.

Posted by: Sarah on October 7, 2006 06:55 AM

"The ALLERCA research and development team has placed ALLERCA in a unique position to produce the world's first hypoallergenic cat."
Does it matter wether genetically modified or genetically "designed", if one's philosophy is to "produce" living beings? That's sick either way.

Posted by: Allerca on October 7, 2006 07:50 AM

People have been genetically designing for years and years. The doberman breed of dogs is the direct result of genetic designing. Many farms select specific animals to breed to create the best offspring. People mate horses and donkeys to create mules. Humans have had their hands in selective breeding since pre-history, and these cats are the result of nothing else but (very) selective breeding. These cats already exist naturally, though very rare, and all this company is doing is breeding more of them.

Genetically modified is something totally different, as in that case we're taking something that does not exist in nature and creating animals from it. That's just messing with the time-proven methods of evolution, or with God's work, or both, depending on what your position is.

Posted by: claurianta on October 7, 2006 10:46 AM

You don't need four grand or a background check to get a cat, neutered or no. All domestic animals are genetically modifed one way or another, a Chihuahua is a completely artificial animal, and humans have been modifying the genotype of animals for literally thousands of years, since before civilisation, so I'm not bothered if we get better at it, what is worrying is a company asserting a legal exclusive right to create a certain kind of life. Like they can choose to discontinue a species if it stops being profitable.

Posted by: strix on October 7, 2006 11:49 AM

Quote by: strix "Like they can choose to discontinue a species if it stops being profitable."

Quote by: Allerca "Does it matter wether genetically modified or genetically "designed", if one's philosophy is to "produce" living beings? That's sick either way."

We produce living beings all the time: We produce beef cows just to fatten them up and them kill, cook, & eat them. This is nothing new it just seems to be of dubious morality that the producer is attaching so many strings. I find it interesting that we accept the idea of licensing rather than actual ownership when it comes to things that we can actualy own such as music and software but we are taken aback when some one tries to convince us to lisence something we have never *really* been able to own. I mean this in the sence that the only life you truly own is yours not your pet's, spouce's, or children lives. You get the idea...

The EULA an abomination in any case. once you buy something you should be able to do with as you please within the law. This notion of giving up your legal rights and being only able to do what a producer decides you can do with a product has come in on the shirt tales of the idea that when you are at work you do not have all the rights you are entitled under the law. I assure you this is not what the framers intended. Our freedoms under our constituion and and protections of law were never intended to be usurped by simpley signing additional agreements as a requirement for employment or use of products and services.

What is next? Perhaps stationary with a EULA that dictates what you can and cannot write? No law can be written to silence us because of the first amendment; What if we are simpley required to waive our first amendment rights under an EULA in order own a pad of paper and a pen?

Posted by: The cat's Miao... on October 7, 2006 12:41 PM

A small point, this isn't a EULA. It's a contract, a purchase agreement, which specifies the terms of the transaction. It is displayed to the customer *before* they get to the order screen. Contracts which restrict what you can do are nothing new and calling them EULAs is misrepresenting what they are.

Posted by: Codepope on October 7, 2006 01:17 PM

wow a basket of DRMs, how cute they are!

Posted by: gg on October 7, 2006 01:21 PM

lol @ people who cant handle pet hair and or dander

Posted by: blah on October 7, 2006 01:23 PM

This contract is similar to what you'd see when buying a pedigreed kitten from a breeder. Whole (non-neutered) cats cost *much* more than the same cats when snipped, and breeders often try to control the secondary market for their offspring.

Posted by: Adam on October 7, 2006 03:05 PM

Pure filth.

Posted by: Paul Michieux on October 7, 2006 03:45 PM

I wonder if it's possible, medically, to un-neuter a cat for the purpose of producing pirate kittens. If there's a lot of money in these then perhaps a paralell market will spring up? I you can find out which is the hypoallergenic gene you should only need one fertile cat to start breeding them. The cat genome has been sequenced, finding out which gene it is may ony require a few hairs from different hypoallergenic cats to compare. And with that, stricky gets blacklisted by Allerca.

Posted by: strix on October 7, 2006 07:08 PM

The difference between this clause and a typical purchase agreement is that it claims to restrict what the purchaser can do after the purchase is complete. I don't think most people expect (or want) that in contracts of sale.

Posted by: Wendy on October 7, 2006 07:11 PM

What if you don't have any immediate family which can be found when you become unable to care for the cat (for instance, you die or go to jail)? Does this "license" create the necessity of putting the cat down? I would think that animal welfare laws would trump that clause of the EULA.
I would certainly hope so.

Posted by: Quanlin on October 7, 2006 07:13 PM

"What is next? Perhaps stationary with a EULA that dictates what you can and cannot write? No law can be written to silence us because of the first amendment; What if we are simpley required to waive our first amendment rights under an EULA in order own a pad of paper and a pen?"

In the current political climate, I would put nothing past this administration...

Posted by: Scratchpad on October 8, 2006 01:49 AM

not the first time someones made profit off pu-ssy

Posted by: on October 8, 2006 03:55 AM

Quote by strix: I wonder if it's possible, medically, to un-neuter a cat for the purpose of producing pirate kittens.

Likely not.
Technically, the answer would be "yes", if animals were sterilized in the same way humans are (eg vasectomy or tubal ligation), in which case the reproductive organs are still in there. When animals are spayed/neutered (in the vast majority of cases) the organs are actually removed. The testicles or uterus and ovaries are completely gone, so there's no chance of sperm or eggs being obtained from the fixed animal. I'm sure Allerca fixes their kittens by removing the reproductive organs.

In regard to a contract stating what a buyer can and cannot do after purchase, many "normal" breeders already have contracts like that. Many puppies are sold with both a neuter clause, and a clause stating that if the purchaser ever wants to part with the animal, it must be returned to the breeder (ie cannot be sold to some random person), so the breeder can screen the next potential owner to ensure the health/safety of the animal.
Is someone doesn't want to obey those clauses, they simply buy from someone else.

Posted by: Kitty on October 11, 2006 05:26 PM

I'd hit it.

Posted by: Quikz on October 11, 2006 06:13 PM

People are far too touchy when it comes to genetic modification/alteration/etc. If it makes something better then I'm all for it. Take your cults and shove them.

Posted by: David on October 11, 2006 07:09 PM

These cats are the result of a selective breeding program? Probably those Bene Gesserit.... oh no! It's the Kwisatz Hadercat! The universes super-kitten!

Posted by: Raigan on October 11, 2006 08:46 PM

"I wonder if it's possible, medically, to un-neuter a cat for the purpose of producing pirate kittens.:

LOL like sticking the cat into a CD Burner and then inserting a blank when it asks for it =P

HAHA the cat will have a sticker on it saying
"Please Do Not Copy"

Posted by: ShadowD on October 11, 2006 09:54 PM

When a breeder makes a contract with another breeder there are lots of post-contract stipulations, sometimes like the sire's owner gets the pick of the litter, etc.
We were required to have a home inspection and a fenced in yard, not to mention be available for a random post-adoption check-up up to one year after purchace when we tried to adopt a dog from a county shelter. If you think about it, its the pet shops who are the bad guys, not breeders. Pet shops will sell to anyone with enough cash, Cruella DeVille or not.

Posted by: Dimwem on October 11, 2006 10:16 PM

Why is everybody so surprised? I mean, a corporation has created a product for which there is a demand - of COURSE they're going to protect their interests in being the sole source of that product!

Sure, its horrible that they're claiming they have THE solution for people with allergies - when it really isn't THE solution, or much of a solution at all. Case in point, there are such things as 'not having cats', as well as 'hairless cats', and my personal favorite 'killing yourself so you don't produce inferior children with genes that mean they can't be near things with fur'.

What this corporation needs to do is modify the HUMAN genome, and just forego the whole stupid 'allergy' problem in the first place! I can think of about a billion people who would pay all they had and all they could borrow to ensure their children would be free from sneezing uncontrollably around furred mammals or such terrifying things as -tall grass-.

The silly part of course is how everybody thinks that animals have rights at all - I mean, rights to live? Why? They're food. Just like my cats - great companions, sure, but when it comes right down to it, they're emergency food supplies. Animals eat other animals all the time - where's the protest there? Animals kill animals all the time. But when WE eat animals, its a sin. When WE kill animals, its a crime. Honestly, what the hell is wrong with you? Survival of the fittest is flying right over your heads, and I hope you're watching it when I stab you in the neck.

That's my little spiel. Forget the 'controversy' of a goddam KITTEN and focus on the real problem - parents too stupid to teach their kids not to eat marbles, instead spending hundreds of dollars to marble-proof their home...and, however inadvertently, ENSURING that there will be MORE kids later on that like to eat marbles. We need to start finding these people, and sterilizing them - and we need to do it now. CHLORINE IN THE GENE POOL - NOT JUST A GOOD IDEA, BUT SURVIVAL OF THE SPECIES!

Posted by: TheDoctor on October 11, 2006 10:27 PM

Let's face it: the only reason that they insist that they are neutered before delivery is to keep the prices high. I mean, if they're the only ones offering genetically-altered cats, and they're the only ones that can make them, then they can charge whatever they want!

Posted by: Capitalism! on October 12, 2006 12:28 AM

I'm going to wait 'til they have hypoallergenic kitties released under the GPL license. Much cheaper and preserved in full. Might not be as strict of a "genetic focus" regimen as this company does, but hey, I like kitties and I like having enough money left over to pay for food.

Posted by: Jesse on October 12, 2006 01:55 AM

I think it's funny how half of you take the comments of those who are disgusted, and rationalize them with scientific techno-babble to make yourselves sound more impressive. Seems to me people are expressing, very simply, that they disagree. They don't need a justification through examples of common practice. I mean, what the hell? Just because there's a line of reasoning doesn't mean something is valid or right. Oh wait, I forgot. Forums are a breeding ground for
egotistical idiocy. My mistake..

Being politically correct and grossly objective can be even more detrimental than intolerance. Bullshit aside, it's retarded and wrong.

Posted by: Judecca on October 12, 2006 02:46 AM

YAY! Everybody hates everybody!

I don't see what everybody's problems are. :P there's nothing wrong with breeding programs if they make healthier animals, and it's a plus if the animals benefit something. (Most-to-all of the time, it's us.) You can not get around human greed, because it's hard-wired into us and every other animal as a survival instinct, so just shut up about how immoral this is because, really, it isn't.

^.^ Aww, lookit 'dem! Dey so cuute! The "EULA" agreement thing seems pretty reasonable to me. "You can not distribute our gene we worked so hard to find and produce, so that we can gain full credit for our efforts and make a little money off of it." I mean, seriously. People with allergic reactions to kittens should be able to touch something furry with breaking into hives. It's also a good idea to prevent genetically modified animals - whether bred or screwed around with - from breeding with the normal population. It could have any number of side effects, just about all of them bad.

Posted by: Draconis)Wyrm on October 12, 2006 08:50 AM

I wonder if they make them sterile, to prevent you from breeding your own.

Posted by: Chad on October 12, 2006 03:18 PM

Erm, that's what we've all been on about...

They're very cute. And I don't disagree this is a great idea, there are a lot more people than you think who have allergies preventing them from owning cats. As for the neutering... well, I've been around cats since I was born, and get along with them better than most people, so I don't like the idea of des-exing (as we call it here in Australia) too much, but face it- it's pretty much necessary because you'll eventually have a lot more cats than you can look after. (both my family cats just had kittens... half have gone feral)

It's not really that big a deal when you think about it... and eventually they'll probably make them public domain. Or someone else will.

The middle one is cute, but the white ones look weird... almost like mice..

Posted by: Sabre_Justice on October 13, 2006 12:54 AM

"I'm not fully defending what Allerca is doing, but I can imagine (an would probably join) the outcry if they just gave a cat to anyone with $4000 dollars to spend on one. "

ROFL.. yeah because usually Every Nut ball that has 4 Grand to throw away on a CAT... is planning to cook it's ass for dinner, or throw it on the street.

Posted by: Billy on October 13, 2006 12:51 PM

Besides the fact that this is juuuust slightly twisted, the allergen in cat dander that triggers most people to react is an antibiotic enzyme in their saliva. Without that, the kittycat will have health problems, and won't be able to heal its wounds as fast as it normally would. Poor kitties.. if you're allergic and you just have to have a cat, get an allergy shot! This is upsetting.

Posted by: Hannah on October 14, 2006 11:18 AM

This company is not CREATING anything new, they are merely exploiting natural reproduction to isolate certain genetic traits and concentrate them in a new sub-breed of cat. Others will be able to do the same thing, I'm surprised it hasn't been attempted before.
To my knowledge no other breed of cat has any legal restriction on it, trying to restrict the propagation of a new breed of cat simply to increase your profit is grossly immoral. And wont work, some smart arse breeder somewhere will do the same thing and start selling breeding stock.

Posted by: LB on October 17, 2006 03:55 AM

Um... Nature's totally all, "Wait, you don't like how I did it the first time? Fine! Do it yourselves!"

This is a definate allusion to a Brave New World future, and as much as I like Aldous Huxley's works, I really don't wanna' get labeled dumb.

Those cats have totally messed up noses too. Coincedence? Yeah, probably.

Posted by: Toast on October 17, 2006 10:37 PM

Okay so lets be honest scientifically their clause cant be intended to stop a corperation from "reverse catgineering" their gene... All you'd have to do is a simple cloning, extract a fertile egg from any random female cat, remove its genetic material, and inser the nucleous from any cell of the Allerca kitty. You get an exact fertile copy of your original cat. Now granted your generic cat breeder cant do this, but corperate rivals sure as hell would. As for the moral issues, im reasonably sure that TheDoctor was joking in his statement, i however find 90% of what he said to be true. As for if the gene were actually artificial and spliced in not by breeding, who gives a damn? You dont like it, dont buy it. Picketing a scientific advancement of a method humanity has been doing for centuries is retarded. Furthermore on that topic, the idea of engineering humans to avoid nasty dangerous allergies is something i find perfectly reasonable.

Posted by: HawkShark on October 18, 2006 04:07 PM


Posted by: jojoji on October 21, 2006 11:04 AM
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