Kelly Anderson’s beloved cat Chai was sick and died young, so she spent $25,000 to clone her companion “out of pure love” for her pet.
Anderson told The Sun that she “couldn’t be happier with her decision,” despite the daily influx of hate mail on social media and a scathing letter from PETA.
Chai was just five years old when he died on March 16, 2017.
“I couldn’t sleep that night,” Anderson said. “I just remembered having a conversation with my roommate, who’s a vet tech, at some point that night about cloning.
“I started doing a lot of research and looked into ViaGen a lot. I called them the second they opened the next morning, and the process from there was basically getting my vet to work with them to get a skin biopsy (from Chai).”
Four years later, Anderson has a new kitten that she named Belle.
ViaGen told The Sun that it guarantees that they’ll look identical but the animals will develop their own personality because that’s based on external factors.
Those factors include how many animals are in the house, what the animal is being fed, how the cat is raised, among dozens of other nature-versus-nurture impacts.
Anderson said Belle’s personality “is completely different” from Chai.
“They have some baseline personalities that are a little similar. Like they’re very bold, sassy, cats, but that could be the breed. But Belle is a totally new cat.”
“She is the troublemaker,” said Anderson while she pet one of her three other adopted cats during the virtual interview.
“I have all my other cats who are between three and almost 13. This is my oldest,” she said while holding her black cat. “They’re all pretty chill, and then there’s Belle.
“She’s a kitten and she wants to play all the time. She’s really rambunctious like any other six-month-old kitten. She’s very affectionate and inquisitive and just bold. She has no fear at all she loves going out to new places.
“I bring her outside or to breweries. She loves exploring and meeting other animals”
Chai and Belle look identical in pictures but because Chai was so sick, Belle is filling out more and “is getting fluffier,” Anderson said.
PETA SENDS A SCATHING EMAIL
Cloning dogs and cats is relatively new and controversial.
Opponents argue against cloning and say to adopt a pet. Other opponents compare cloning to a high-tech puppy mill.
“I get dozens of hate messages on TikTok every day,” Anderson said.
“Some have ethical problems but some claim I’m using a cloned cat to make money on social media.
“That’s not sure. I’m making nothing off this. I just loved Chai so much. That’s the only reason I cloned him.”
PETA said in an email that she has an “enormous amount of influence and we are desperate to help shelters … and to NOT create a cloning trend.
“Your promotion directly and adversely affects the lives of other cats – those who are sitting in shelters waiting for a family,” PETA said.
Anderson, who trains animals for a living, shared a few of her accomplishments and when she worked with PETA on campaigns.
“I appreciate your concern but it is very misplaced. And your data is misinformed,” Anderson said in a response email. “Cloning does not affect the cats in shelters at all.”
She said she has fostered over 100 cats and always has adopted, but losing Chai at five years old was a crushing blow in her life.
“There was just something special and different about Chai. I don’t know really, I can’t put it into words. She was just that pet for me. I’ve never had a pet like her. And I wanted to carry on a piece of her,” Anderson said.