"My cat died of urinary tract disease. I decided to clone him because he was so special and unforgettable," said the cloned cat's owner Huang Yu, who paid US$35,400 for Garlic.
The first cloned cat has been created after an owner could not bear to be without his beloved but dying cat.
The British shortchair cat was born 66 days after an embryo was implanted inside a surrogate mother, Beijing-based Sinogene Biotechnology Company announced.
Sinogene Biotechnology Company already clones dogs for owners heartbroken that they beloved pet is dying.
“My cat died of urinary tract disease. I decided to clone him because he was so special and unforgettable,” the cat owner Huang Yu told the Global Times.
Garlic and the original cat, which supplied the cells, appear identical but have different temperaments and personalities, said Lai Liangxue, the Chinese company’s chief scientist and a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. A cloned cat’s life expectancy is the same as any other cat, Lai said.
Meet Garlic, China's first clone cat. "The kitten named Garlic was born on July 21 in a laboratory of the biotechnology company Sinogene. It was born from an embryo carried by a surrogate mother. Garlic is currently in a good condition. pic.twitter.com/cYFMUBuRnK
— China News 中国新闻网 (@Echinanews) August 21, 2019
Cloning of cats and dogs means that when a beloved pet dies, an exact copy can be created to replace it.
To make the cloned animal share the same memories as the original, Sinogene Biotechnology Company is considering using artificial intelligence or man-machine interface technology to store them or even pass the memories to cloned animals.
Animal cloning does not come cheap. It is expected to cost 250,000 yuan (US$35,400). The company’s dog cloning service costs 380,000 yuan (US$54,000).
The company began experimenting on cloning a cat in August 2018 and a number of cat owners have already come forward to request the service, said Sinogene Biotechnology Company.
More than two-thirds of China’s 73 million pet owners care for a dog or a cat, CNBData from 2018 revealed.
To clone a cat or dog, an embryo is created using a nucleus of DNA from the animal being cloned and an empty ‘shell’ egg cell.
This is then placed into the surrogate mother cat’s uterus and the process from cell extraction to birth takes around two months to complete.
Sinogene Biotechnology Company said it was considering using its cloning technology to save endangered animals.
This would require controversial experimentation with interspecies cloning, which no scientist has successfully completed and which is viewed by the majority as unethical.
One team in China is attempting to save Pandas from extinction using the process, by injecting panda DNA into an empty cat egg cell.
“Because of the limited number of endangered species, such as giant pandas, scientists can’t directly conduct cloning experiments on them unless we can find a replacement,” Dr Lai added.