Cat owner has pet cloned as she couldn’t say goodbye to ‘wonderful creature’

A woman who couldn't bring herself to say goodbye to her beloved car after his death got the pet cloned instead.

The pet owner from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, decided to clone her cat, Mr Tufts, before his death and had a local vet collect living tissue samples for the process.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, told The Courier News: "I had never had such a wonderful creature.

"It was harder losing him than any other cat I've ever had."

Dr. Kevin Christmas of Cedar Valley Veterinary Center in Cedar Falls took several samples and sent them to ViaGen Pets in Cedar Park, Texas, which cloned the cat.

ViaGen Pets specialises in cloning and genetic preservation for household pets. They have cloned dogs, cats and even horses.

The facility kept Mr Tufts' tissue samples until his death and began cloning shortly after.

ViaGen's client services manager, Melain Rodriguez, said specialists replaced the nucleus of a female cat's egg with one of Mr Tufts' frozen cells.

The process is similar to in vitro fertilisation, where the embryo is transferred to a surrogate mother cat.

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Mr Tufts' clone, who the owner named Mr Tufts Jr, shares the same appearance, intelligence and temperament as the original cat.

ViaGen Pets president Blake Russell told KXAN-TV: "When we produce the clone it's an identical twin.

"There is zero genetic modification occurring."

The woman brought Mr Tufts Jr home when he was around two months old and also adopted the surrogate mother cat.

She explained the only physical difference between Mr Tufts Jr – who is now nine months old – is in his "health and body condition".

"The original T had been found on a forest trail and had a very bad respiratory illness," the feline owner said.

She also said Mr Tufts' genetic twin is more 'athletic' than her first cat, in part because "he, and mom cat, too, had the best of care".

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