A nurse and business owner in Kelowna is cloning her beloved Bear.
Kris Stewart is taking steps to clone her cat using ViaGen, an American company that specializes in cloning livestock and pets.
Bear was five and a half years old when he was fatally hit by a car near his home.
“He was streetwise until the moment he wasn’t,” said Stewart.
After the heartbreak of missing the opportunity to clone her late dog, Stewart knew the clock was ticking to extract and send a sample of Bear’s cells to the ViaGen laboratory in Texas.
Stewart had to store her kitty in her own fridge overnight until a vet could perform a biopsy to send to the lab. The following morning Stewart received a call that the cells had arrived and the multiplication of cells had begun.
The cells were viable and the lab was able to grow an abundance of Bear cells.
Stewart is on a waitlist and hopes to start the next phase in August. ViaGen will insert Bear’s genetic material into an ovum which will then be implanted into a surrogate cat.
Three eggs will be implanted, with the hope that at least one will be healthy.
“When it comes to my animals I don’t see dollar signs,” she said. The process of cloning her Bear will end up being about $50,000, but Stewart said that it is worth it.
“I just want him to continue to live on,” she said. “His life was too short.”
The cloning company boasts that clones have a 95 per cent chance of the same personality as the original animal.
“Bear was an animal like no other,” said Stewart.
Bear was constantly up to mischief and escaping.
“He could open locked windows and doors,” she said.
Stewart took every measure possible to keep her “mountain lion mixed with Houdini” safe. She barricaded her home with chairs propped in front of doors and reinforced the fencing in her yard but it wasn’t enough. The clever cat always found a way out.
“He’s smarter than any cat or dog I’ve ever owned,” said Stewart.
Stewart bought two GPS trackers for Bear to wear so she could keep track of the feisty feline when he left for his daily solo adventures.
She said she had to start taking him on adventures to burn off his extra energy and exercise his mind to keep him from getting into trouble.
Stewart is hopeful that she will have a baby Bear by the winter, and is already planning adventures, but knows that with three times the energy she will need to take extra precautions to keep the kitties safe.
“I’m going to have to get a carpenter in here to install deadbolts,” said Stewart.
Stewart suggests that people thinking about pursuing the option look into it sooner than later.
“If you want to do your animal, you should do it before they die,” she said. Biopsies can be taken from living animals and used at anytime.