Chinese gene firm clones cat, sparking wide consumer interest 

Cat lovers who are devastated by the death of their beloved felines may soon be able to have their pets cloned, following the birth of China’s first cloned kitten.

The cloned kitten, named « Garlic, » was born on July 21 and cloned at the laboratories of Sinogene Biotechnology Company in Beijing. 

The company started its experiment on cat cloning in August 2018, and Garlic, a British shorthair, was born 66 days after an embryo was transferred to a surrogate mother, the company said at a press conference on Monday in Beijing.

Garlic and the original cat, which supplied the cells, appear identical but have different temperaments and personalities, Lai Liangxue, the company’s chief scientist and a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday. A cloned cat’s life expectancy is the same as any other cat, Lai said. 

To make the cloned animal share the same memories with the original, the company is considering the use of artificial intelligence or man-machine interface technology to store them or even pass the memories to cloned animals, the general manager of Sinogene said at the conference.

Sinogene deputy general manager Zhao Jianping said the successful cloning of Garlic will allow the company to officially start offering cat-cloning services, which is expected to cost 250,000 yuan ($35,400) each. 

Zhao told the Global Times that several cat owners had already booked the service, hinting that the future market could be huge. The company also offers a dog cloning service, costing 380,000 yuan. 

China has more than 73 million pet owners and more than two-thirds of them care for a dog or a cat, according to a 2018 report by CNBData. 

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