Kelowna woman successfully clones beloved cat, now has two carbon copies

Cloned cats ready for pickup

The cat, or cats in this case, have come back, literally.

"This is gonna be super exciting," says Kris Stewart owner and clinical director of Advanced Home Care Solutions in Kelowna.

After multiple attempts, Stewart and Texas-based cloning company Viagen have managed to successfully clone her cat Bear. The process produced not one but two kittens.

Stewart says she plans to travel to the United States to pick up both the carbon copy kittens and bring them home in mid-March. She is hopeful the clones will turn out just like her beloved Bear.

"From a scientific perspective, they are genetically identical to the original kitty cat. So, in my mind, they're brothers," Stewart says.

Stewart says she has added an addition to her home so the cats will have a place to play together.

"It's called a catio. That's the new thing for cats these last few years. So your indoor cat can see a little of the outdoors without actually being outdoors. Honestly, I think unsupervised, that's as close to the outdoors as I'm prepared to take them at this point in time."

An update from Viagen says the kittens are aware of their surroundings now and are starting to play. Stewart is hopeful her new kittens, named Bear Bear and Honey Bear, will have personalities at least close to the original.

"Science tells us that 75 per cent of personality is carried in genes. That leaves another 25 per cent for the environment to shape the personality, but anecdotally, personality can be up to 95 per cent the same as the original animal," Stewart said.

"I mean, the closer to Bear's personality the better. That's the whole reason, right?"

The cloning process isn't cheap, costing between $17,000 and $35,000 USD. Stewart says she plans to turn her new kittens into adventure cats, or "cats that live nine lives to the fullest."

"You literally take it out in a harness and a leash and they go surfing and kayaking and boating and camping and hiking. I was getting Bear initiated into being an adventure cat, he'd actually passed his level one testing. So I'll get the kittens started right away on becoming adventure cats," Stewart says.

That's not all Stewart has planned for her new kittens.

She's talking to a French TV station about doing a story on the kittens and the process. She is also meeting with HBO which is interested in featuring her and her kittens on one of their programs.

"They just want to do a documentary on people and their pets, and some of the things they do to make life great for their pets."

Stewart is hopeful her new kittens will live a normal life span, between 15 and 23 years, so she will have plenty of time to enjoy their company.

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