Cloning is the process of creating an identical copy of an original. This process is by no means simple. In 1996, Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Scotland produces a sheep, Dolly, the first mammal cloned from a cell of an adult animal. The general public was flabbergasted. Genetic copies seemed like a thing in the far distant future, and yet, news station all over the world proclaimed Dollie as the first. She was not the last, however. In 1997, Infigen, Inc. produces Gene, the first cloned cow, from a fetal cell and researchers at the University of Hawaii Medical School produce “Cumulina,” the first mouse cloned from an adult cell. Cloned cattle, goats, mice, pigs, rabbits, cats, a mule, and a horse followed.
All of this was quite fascinating and interesting to people, and that’s when geneticists thought, “Why not commercialize cloning?” Genetic Savings & Clone (www.savingsandclone.com) was founded in 2000 and dedicated themselves to creating domestic animals to sell commercially.
In 2002, Genetic Savings & Clone produced the world’s first cloned cat, named “CC”. She was born in Texas on December 22, 2001. She was also the first domestic animal to be successfully cloned.
Genetic Savings & Clone started producing cloned cats for clients before the end of 2004 with a $32,000 pricetag. The company is clear that should you want to clone your cat, you should realize that the personality is not going to be the same. This is a new life, a copy of a life, but memories and life experiences from the genetic donor cannot be transferred to the clone. If raised in a similar environment to the donor, they will likely have the same disposition, but not the same personality. They also have a higher incidence of health problems than animals produced by conventional reproduction.
Why would someone want to pay $32,000 for a cloned cat, as opposed to buying a new or similar one? Some people are very attached to their pets, even long after they have died. A clone is a replica of their beloved pet. Or perhaps they want a specific cross-breed cat that couldn’t be obtained through normal means.
For those who do choose to have their cat cloned, the process for them is simple. First, the genetic donor’s gene’s will be banked in “PetBank”, Genetic Savings & Clone’s state-of-the-art banking facility, where the DNA will wait to be cloned. Since cats cannot be cloned from a donor’s fur, nails or blood, consumers are advised to bring the pet in while living or immediately after death (within 5 days) to preserve the sample. The pet’s veterinarian can take the biopsy samples and ship them to Genetic Savings & Clone, to be processed and saved. This can cost $895 plus shipping for live animals OR terminally ill animals and for PetBank Ensure Plus, for terminal or recently deceased animals, $1395 plus shipping costs of the sample. However, this cost is deductible from the future cost of cloning at GSC.
After CC and the widespread news reports about her creation, Genetic Savings & Clone continued to produce more cats. Tabouli & Baba Ganoush, Peaches, Little Nicky, and Little Gizmo can all be seen on the companies website with comparison photos from their respective donors. While the company claims to have serviced plenty of happy clients, they are very confidential about their identities unless otherwise stated by the clients.
There is, indeed, a market for cloned pets and Genetic Savings & Clone are not stopping at cats. At this time, they are working on creating dog clones. Dog clones are harder to produce than cats clones, explained thoroughly on their site. However, they have already created at least five dogs for consumers, dog cloning is not readily available to everyone. They are working on developing a more efficient procedure using the chromatin transfer method of cloning. How much a cloned dog will cost is unknown to the general public, but will most assuredly cost more than cloning a cat. They do say they plan to continue to reduce the price of their cloning services as they increase their efficiency.