Bio-luminescent Cats and Other New-Fangled Pets

Have you ever wondered whether someday your pussy will glow in the dark? No, not that pussy. I mean the pussy in your lap.  Er...that didn't work either.  Let me start over again...

By all accounts, genetic engineering is upon us. And while -- so far as I've heard -- it's commercial use is currently limited mostly to the agricultural and medical fields, it seems probable that it will expand into other fields. Thus it might be only a matter of time before companies are selling genetically engineered farm animals.  For instance, cattle that are immune to the worse diseases and that grow faster on less food than today's breeds.

Yet, if you can genetically engineer a cow, you can genetically engineer a cat. Or a dog.  Or any other pet. So I'm wondering today whether the future might hold for us "designer pets".  Perhaps even bizarre designer pets.

For instance: You might -- might -- be able to engineer a cat whose skin or fur glows in the dark.  After all, there are bio-luminescent organisms from which you could presumably take the genes for bio-luminescence and then insert those genes into a cat's genetic code.  The result might give a whole new meaning to pets named, "Sparkles" and "Wildfire".

Of course, a crucial issue here is whether there would be much of a market for designer pets.  Would people line up to buy cats that glowed in dark?  Or if not precisely cats that glowed in the dark, other bizarre creations.  Such as dogs that lived as long as their masters?  Rabbits with pink fur? Talking chimpanzees?

I have no idea whether designer pets would ever take off.  I assume if they became available, they would appeal to at least some people, if only for the sake of novelty. But would they appeal to enough people to fuel an industry?

Genetic engineering raises many questions and most of those questions are more important than the ones I've raised here. If the world ever creates cats that glow in the dark, the cats will surely be controversial, but in the grand scheme of things, they are unlikely to be all that important.  However, given how crazy our species is, I would not entirely dismiss the possibility we will someday create such bizarre animals.

So what do you think? Will the future hold for us genetically engineered pets?  And if so, what will those pets be like?

(Hat Tip for the idea to The Wise Fool who blogs here and here.)


  1. Or designer humans? The first thing I thought of when I read about this was that someday there will be people undergoing treatment so that they can have bioluminescent tattoos, or some other form of body decoration.

  2. I think it's only a matter of time, and a natural outlet for genetic engineering. There is still some concern about genetically modified food sources and their potential for long term effects regarding their consumption (even though genetically modified foods are already on the market). There will be a backlash for decades over human modification, at least anything associated with the embryo or development that doesn't fight disease or defect. Soul-less pet modification is practically free of health and ethics issues by comparison. So I think it's just a matter of time, primarily associated with making the technology cheap.

    Me? I'd be happy to settle for a cat that doesn't hack up fur balls or shed, and that pees Febreeze.

    But I think you've hit on what will more likely happen; tricked-out fur modifications. That, and tail and ear mods. I can see a dalmatian with a curly tail, pointy ears, and glow-in-the-dark spots in the future!

  3. I've just decided I want a prehensile tail, Wise Fool. Something I can scratch my back with.

  4. I'm juwt horrified that peope even consider this when there are so many animals being slaughtered in "shelters" every year. (Imagine if your community's "homeless shelter" were a place where people who could not find work or a place to stay were taken off when the place began to fill up and given a lethal injection...)

    It's bad enough that my Bengal, a foundling for me but a $500 purchase for the woman who originally owned her (long story), was bred from an endangered species (the Asian Leopard Cat) and domestics, such that the first couple of generations are too wild to be owned by anyone but a licensed breeder, won't use a box and I suspect are often killed when their breeding career is done. The cats that are sold tend to have unintended problem traits that make them end up in shelters and sanctuaries too. What happens when people start playing genetic games with animals wholesale as if they were toys? More discarding of "oops" creatures?

    This is insane. Create luminous tattoos if you must but animals ought to be left out of it.

  5. I've only heard a little bit about the problems of stray and unwanted pets, Sledpress. But what little I've heard paints a pretty bleak picture.

    Given human nature, I would not be surprised, if designer pets ever became common, they would be treated just as poorly as we treat our pets now.

    Sad thought, that.


Comments Welcome -- but no flaming. If you wish, you can email me at