Iowa Woman Has Her 'Wonderful' Cat Cloned After His Death
Tissue samples from cat Mr. Tufts were collected before his death and sent to ViaGen Pets in Cedar Park, Texas
When an Iowa woman realized she wouldn't want to say goodbye to her beloved cat after his death, she took early action and began the process of having her feline cloned.
The Cedar Rapids resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, decided to clone her cat, Mr. Tufts, before his death and had a local veterinarian begin to collect living tissue samples for later use, according to United Press International (UPI).
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 would later be cloning the cat.
"I had never had such a wonderful creature," the woman told The Courier News of Mr. Tufts. "It was harder losing him than any other cat I've ever had."
According to UPI, ViaGen Pets specializes in cloning and genetic preservation for household pets. The facility has cloned dogs, cats, and even horses in the past.
ViaGen Pets kept Mr. Tufts' tissue samples until his death and began the cloning process shortly after.
Melain Rodriguez, ViaGen's client services manager, explained that specialists replaced the nucleus of a female cat's egg with one of Mr. Tufts' frozen cells.
Similar to in vitro fertilization, the embryo was then transferred to the surrogate mother cat.
Mr. Tufts' clone, who the owner named Mr. Tufts Jr., shares the same appearance, intelligence and temperament as the original feline.
"When we produce the clone it's an identical twin. There is zero genetic modification occurring," ViaGen Pets president Blake Russell told KXAN-TV earlier this month.
The Cedar Rapids woman brought home Mr. Tufts Jr. when he was 2 months old, and she also adopted the surrogate mother cat.
She explained the only physical difference in Mr. Tufts Jr., who is now 9 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," she explained.
The owner said Mr. Tufts' genetic twin is also "more athletic" than her first feline, in part because "he, and mom cat, too, had the best of care."