Help Me Clone My Cat
December 2, 2012 9:17 PM   Subscribe

I want to clone my cat.

I have the best cat ever. He is smart. He is dependable. He kicks ass. He poops outdoors, he catches mice, he doesn't run out into the middle of the street.

He's also 15 years old.

I want another cat just like him when the time comes that we have to say goodbye.

He is neutered.

What do I need to do to preserve his DNA? Is this a pipe dream, or a possible thing?

I'm willing to spend up to, eh, three grand.


He's an awesome cat.
posted by BitterOldPunk to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
You should listen to this.
posted by pullayup at 9:23 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I totally understand what you mean, but what you want is not attainable by cloning. If it were, each infant human twin could reasonably be predicted to have the same temperament as the other at adulthood.

Also, see the cautionary tale of Chance the bull. I'd hate to log on one day and see you'd had your eyeballs eaten by BestCatEverII.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 9:23 PM on December 2, 2012 [8 favorites]

I'll make an assumption that this is something of a fanciful question. I know little to nothing about cloning, but I doubt that a clone would have all those same characteristics if raised by a different person.

I'd say your best bet to create a "clone" is to get a kitten now and be the same awesome, responsible owner you already are with the new fur ball.
posted by michswiss at 9:23 PM on December 2, 2012 [12 favorites]

Scooped by pullayup. I previewed, I swear.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 9:25 PM on December 2, 2012

Liam Lynch cloned his cat, discussed briefly here and in more depth on various episodes of his podcast. Informative and entertaining.
posted by supercres at 9:28 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

seconding michswiss. we lost our 13 yr old best-cat-we-could-ever-hope-for 6 mos. ago and I think I have the feelings you are trying to prevent. I finally feel ready to love a new kitten who may not 'measure up.' It took a while.

Note also that somatic clones (the only kind, I believe, that you could get from your neutered cat) have health issues and shortened life spans.... see
posted by Tandem Affinity at 9:37 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I actually looked into this too, as my cat is epically awesome. There was one company that did this in the states, yep the same one linked above, that did it for 50K. That was not very cost efficient though, and after about five satisfied clients they closed shop. There is no one else cloning cats at this time that I could find, and definitely not for three grand.

The thing that gave me pause is this - the company promised that they would get a close match of your deceased pet, or they would keep cloning until you're satisfied. I think how it worked is they would clone many cats, most would not live, and they would choose the best match out of the ones that did. Which left me with.... what did they do with inexact matches? The whole thing seemed very primitive and medieval as far as technology goes, and it skeeved me out. Until they can do 'sterile' cloning with no collateral damage to poor baby kittens that were not an *exact* match, I would not be interested even if it was 3 grand.
posted by tatiana131 at 9:43 PM on December 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

I guess your best bet would be to try to get a similar cat who was raised in similar circumstances and has a similar personality. Raised in a home from a kitten? Found on the street? The folks at the animal shelter should know. Might be hard to know if you don't know your current cat's exact backstory from birth or a new cat's backstory, but that would probably be my methodology.
posted by hellojed at 9:47 PM on December 2, 2012

Joyce McKinney did this with her dog.
posted by brujita at 1:02 AM on December 3, 2012

Genetic Savings & Clone, Inc was the pet cloning company in Sausalito, CA. It folded in 2006.
posted by artdrectr at 1:36 AM on December 3, 2012

Best answer: If you get a kitten now and let him hang around with Wise Old Cat, he'll hopefully learn from him and pick up characteristics.
posted by mannequito at 1:37 AM on December 3, 2012 [14 favorites]

Since your request doesn't seem possible, let me give you an alternate solution. When my awesome 17 year old cat passed recently, I faced a similar problem. I wanted a cat with some very specific similar personality traits. Some of these were so important (deft at hunting mice, but NOT an ankle nipper, very compassionate and friendly but able to be alone for most of the day, tolerant of dogs and small children, etc.) that I was very hesitant to try my luck with a new kitty friend. What if I got an awesome kitten who developed into not the right fit? So I went to shelters and just picked out the right adult cat. The cat had a full history, so I knew what I was getting. And at 5 yrs it's very unlikely that she'll undergo any major personality shifts. It's been a month and she's proven to indeed meet my requirements. And although there will always be things I miss about original awesome cat, new cat has some added features like not being such a yowler. Sure it's fun and exciting to get a new kitten- but this way I avoided the gamble.
posted by LizardOfDoom at 2:13 AM on December 3, 2012 [15 favorites]

What you really want to do is clone the cat and then transfer Old Cat's consciousness to New Cat's brain, and we're not there yet.
posted by elizardbits at 4:00 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mod note: A few comments deleted. As always, please answer the question or help to answer the question.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:17 AM on December 3, 2012

Seconding mannequito's comment. I actually recently did this exact same thing and now I have two equally awesome cats, one young one old.
posted by corn_bread at 5:13 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Cloning animals of this size is still non-trivial, expensive, and typically physiologically degenerative in the long term. You will very probably need to spend an amount as much as 10-50 times your quoted budget to proceed. One should also note that many of the specific characteristics you have grown to love are likely behavioral and not genetic to the animal.

In regards to your specific request I recommend getting a series of independent blood samples preserved in long term storage to be reevaluated in perhaps another decade.

In regards to my perceived intent of your request, I recommend researching specific cat breeds for their typical characteristics and also finding the specific breed your cat is. As previously mentioned, the introduction of a kitten while your current cat remains is very likely to induce many similar behavior patterns.
posted by Algebra at 8:27 AM on December 3, 2012

Best answer: Fuck the cautionary tales. Sure you might end up with Bizarro Cat, but you wont know until and unless you've tried.

ViaGen appears to be the company that you're looking for since right now the concern is gene banking. That part of the process is within your budget.
posted by jph at 9:01 AM on December 3, 2012

Yup, get two kittens and have them learn from Wise Old Cat. You want two because Wise Old Cat will start peeing in your shoes if he has to deal with a bouncy, kitten all damn day.

Wise Old Cat will teach the babies how to poop outside, hunt mice, etc.

I will say that outdoor cats live shorter lives than indoor cats. So perhaps the newbies can be indoor kitties, while the older kitty does all the outside stuff.

Just a thought.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:02 AM on December 3, 2012

Bank the genes now. Cloning will be cheap later.

We brought two cats the same as our awesome cat, and raised them the same. They were nothing like each other, let alone like him.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:09 AM on December 7, 2012

Mannequito's advice is great. For the temperament you are looking for, you might consider a Korat cat if you can find one - it's like having a dog, only with no walking required. He takes care of all our unwanted indoor critters, looks both ways before crossing the street (seriously), and likes to be where the people are. They are easy to spot - the look like Russian Blues, except their ears are ginormous.
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 5:05 AM on December 15, 2012

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