Woman who paid £19k to clone beloved ‘soul mate’ cat after death faces backlash

A grieving woman paid a whopping £19,000 to clone her soulmate cat after it died at the age of five on the operating table.

Professional dog trainer Kelly Anderson, 32, decided to clone her beloved pet Chai back in 2017 after she died from post-op complications.

Kelly said she has faced criticism for decision, but she researched it well, despite her "fully admitting" that the decision was a "coping mechanism for the intense grief" of Chai's passing.

Her roommate, who works in vet-tech, told her about ViaGen, a Texas-based company that offers animal cloning services to pet owners.

So Kelly decided to preserve Chai’s DNA by having her frozen overnight at the vet.

Kelly, who lives in Austin, Texas, spent all night researching ViaGen and called them as soon as they opened to begin the process.

ViaGen took Chai's DNA and placed it into an empty egg, which was then placed into a surrogate cat.

After four years of unsuccessful attempts, Kelly was in utter shock when she got the call to say her new pet, Belle, had been born on August 20th, 2021.

She said: “They initially updated me after every attempt but after a while they stopped. It was so disheartening after every failed attempt, so I kind of ‘shut off’ to it.

“When I got the call, I was in shock. I had completely turned off my emotions.

“I had actually called them about something completely different – they rang me back so quickly that I knew something was up!

“Everyone else was really excited so I think my reaction was a bit anticlimactic.”

The process typically only takes one or two attempts, something Kelly learned after her long wait.

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Kelly flew out to Rochester, New York, to meet Belle for the first time in October 2021.

She said: “I rented an Airbnb studio and could literally hear her screaming as they came up the stairs.

“Chai was really sick so she never got a chance to be socialised, but I knew Belle would be, meaning they’d have completely different personalities."

Kelly has faced huge backlash about her decision, with people claiming she is unfairly replacing her old pet or even that cloning does not exist and that she has been scammed.

She described her reaction to the online hate as a "love-hate relationship".

Kelly said: “I never wanted to have a replacement. I loved Chai and thought that just replacing her would take away from her memories.

"People always comment that I should have adopted but I already have two adopted cats. I believe in adopting responsibly and shopping responsibly.

“I fully admit that the decision was a coping mechanism for the intense grief, however, by the time Belle arrived I had fully grieved Chai.”

“I was so heartbroken when she passed so it was amazing to think that I could have a part of her again.

“In the end, I think my decision saved my life and I would not change it for the world."

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