I often have ideas that I consider million-dollar ideas (particularly given the current state of the dollar). This one is a billion-dollar idea.
Like and Love
People love kittens. When they go to buy a cat, most of the time people want to buy a kitten rather than a full-grown cat. I don’t fully understand why but perhaps the best part of owning a cat is cleaning up crap and replacing furniture. While there’s no accounting for taste, this does represent a critical market opportunity.
The problem with kittens (which people love) is that they eventually turn into cats (which people dislike or are indifferent towards). What someone needs to create is a kitten that stays a kitten forever.
Science to the Rescue!
With the strides we’ve made in genetic research, I think this is a reasonable goal. The primary problem is mortality. If we found a way to keep any mammal alive and young indefinitely we’d really be on to something, but both of these things are out of reach.
What’s needed to conquer the problem is a hard look at the real nature of the problem. When we talk about are desires of “forever” we’re generally talking about lifetime, not until the end of the universe. For example, when people in a couple say they wish to stay together forever, they don’t mean until the Heat-Death of the universe, they mean until they die. It’s this connotation of “forever” that makes the problem relatively easy to solve.
Mortality: Cat’s Ask for It By Name!
Forever doesn’t really mean forever to us unless we’re speaking in a scientific, religious, or similar context that deals with the universe as a whole. When we say forever, we really mean “until death”. We don’t need to keep kittens in that state indefinitely, we need to keep them in that state until they die.
While there are a few variables here, we have the most control over one: death. We can’t control growth rates of kittens, but we can control their deaths. While the easiest way to go about this is in a purely mechanical way, the most elegant is to genetically engineer the cats to die sometime in the period of adolescence.
That’s Horrible! I love Fluffy!
With this leap, we can create kittens that never have to turn into cats. They stay cute, fuzzy, and cuddly until they die. As an owner of a Forever Kitten, you never have to deal with a fat, old, lazy cat. As a matter of fact, you never have to pay for vaccinations which can easily be several times the cost of the cat.
Some may note that they love their cats and don’t want them to die. Unfortunately, death is inevitable for all of us, save perhaps viruses and bacteria. Your cat will die whether your like it or not. Certainly there’s value in this cherished pet dieing within a reasonable designated period of time. This gives everyone the chance to prepare. Similarly, Forever Kitten teaches young ones the dangers of attachment and prepares them for the bereavement that will surely punctuate their life. Lastly, we all love Fluffy. But we loved him more when he was fluffier, more rambunctious, and more full of that youthful spark.
The Reality of Designer Pets
Many might argue the morality of Forever Kitten. Is it bad to engineer an animal to have mortal defects? Is it our place to decide the fate of animals yet to be born? We’ve already answered that question for ourselves time and time again.
For those that believe Forever Kitten is wrong, I offer the dachshund. This dog is the result of careful, selective breeding to produce and animal with its unique “weiner-dog”. characteristics. As a result we have a dog that’s extremely cute in its size and awkwardness. Also as a result we have a breed of dogs so riddled with hereditary health problems that if it were your child to be, you’d strongly consider termination so that it might not suffer.
There is the heart of the question of morality. Is it acceptable for us to create an animal whose life will surely be a decline into serious, debilitating health problems as age sets in but not to create one that will live a normal, healthy, but shortened life?