Photo: Kris Stewart
Carry the cloned Canadian cat.
After more than a year of waiting, a Kelowna woman is beginning to get excited about reuniting with her beloved cat Bear.
You may recall that Kris Stewart had his dead cat Bear cloned at an American company called ViaGen around this time last year. Now these kittens are ready to be born, possibly as early as January 15th.
“I’m still cautiously optimistic. I don’t even want to book a flight yet until I know the kittens were born healthy and can continue to thrive and come home with me.”
Stewart says the process is expensive, costing up to US$35,000 to complete. But she doesn’t care about the cost, she just hopes the cloned cat will be as close to the original bear as possible.
“They’ll probably have between 75% and 95% of his personality,” says Stewart.
It’s also unclear at this point how many kittens will have Bear’s DNA, according to Stewart, she could have more than one.
According to ViaGen, to produce a clone, technicians replace the nucleus of a donor egg with one of the founder’s frozen cells, then the embryo is implanted into a surrogate cat.
“They weren’t able to tell me how many embryos there were in the cat’s surrogate. So what they’re doing is there’s more than one cell line in the mother of the cat. So there’s also the genetics of somebody else’s cat,” Stewart said. said.
Once the kittens are born, they will be sent to an independent lab for genetic testing. If they are healthy, Stewart will fly to Rochester New York to pick up the kittens once they are weaned from their mother.
While Stewart eagerly awaits news of her new kitten(s), she says the process has been smooth so far: “I haven’t had any concerns. I have great confidence, ViaGen le been doing for over 20 years. Initially with prized cattle and prized racehorses, and started doing pets in the last 10 years.”
Bear’s story captured the imagination of people across the country, so much so that Stewart started a Facebook page where people can follow his cloning journey, “It’s called Bear the Cloned Canadian Cat,” says Stewart.