A Love Story of Loss and Rebirth
Some of you may recall seeing an article we wrote back in January of 2017 called: Would You Consider Cloning Your Cat? The topic of cloning has always been fascinating to us (and judging by the article’s response, to many of our readers also).
Cloning is no longer science fiction and its growing popularity continues to attract supporters on both sides of the argument, but our purpose in this post, is not to debate the pro’s and con’s, but rather to share a most remarkable love story of two gorgeous kittens that were recently cloned. More on them later, but to whet your appetite, meet brothers Zine Jr. and Zinou (below). Stunning aren’t they? >^..^<
Credit: The animal loving team at ViaGen Pets (renowned as America’s pet cloning and genetic preservation experts) were kind enough to give us permission to contact their client and share his very personal story. Our sincerest thanks to both!
The story begins with a handsome white cat named Zine (photo below). His owner whom we shall call Sam (for anonymity) had always wanted a cat growing up and waited patiently for 13 years until his parents finally moved into a house. At that point the search for a feline was on and within a month he received a call from a good friend who had just found a 1 month old malnourished kitten wandering outside. Operation Rescue immediately went into effect and it was love at first sight! Sam named the wee kitten Zine and the two became best friends. We were curious at Sam’s choice of name for his kitty and he told us that Zine means “Cute Boy” in Arabic. Very apropos.
Sam explains, “The 13 year wait was worth it as Zine taught me how to love, and he was the first I ever said ‘I love you’ to.” Sam shared that Zine was quite a naughty rascal from the moment that he moved into the house – busy and ever curious he occasionally scratched Sam’s forearms but never in anger, only during playtime. Sam had Zine neutered when he was 5 months as he loved to venture outdoors and explore. Zine had a very consistent and predictable daily routine. He’d leave the house at 6:00 am every morning and promptly return for lunch at 11:45 am. After lunch he’d venture out again and return at 6:45 pm for dinner and then remain indoors until morning. However, in summer he’d often stay out quite late with Sam frequently waiting with the porch light on for him to return.
Fast forward 12 wonderful years to 2015 when Sam becomes devastated on learning that Zine is diagnosed with an incurable fibrosarcoma (a cancerous mass arising from bone, cartilage, fat or muscle) that had developed at the injection site of Zine’s vaccines [reference: PetMD vaccine-associated sarcoma in cats].
He was given only 6 months to live but miraculously survived for 18 months. Zine’s health deteriorated in the final weeks of his life and he passed peacefully at the age of 13 1/2 in December of 2016. Prior to this Sam had thoroughly investigated the possibility undergoing Genetic Preservation with ViaGen Pets hoping that the ultimate goal would be to clone Zine. In Sam’s words, “I decided to clone my cat, Zine, because he was the love of my life.”
[click_to_tweet tweet=”A love story renewed with two beautiful cloned kittens” quote=”A love story renewed with two beautiful cloned kittens”]
On the day of Zine’s passing, Sam had his vet procure and send off the necessary cell samples for ViaGen Pets to genetically preserve Zine’s DNA and so the process began. It wasn’t until December of 2017 that ViaGen Pets impregnated a suitable surrogate cat with Zine’s fertilized embryos and several months later on Feb. 23, 2018 two beautiful healthy cloned kittens were born.
Needless to say Sam was ecstatic! He named the brothers Zine Jr. and Zinou (Zine Jr. has two spots on his head and Zinou has one spot).
Sam shares, “Zine Jr. and Zinou behave very similarly to Zine who was the ruler of their house, and the kittens are working their way into that role. Much like Zine, the kittens are very interested in sneaking out and exploring the backyard. At the time of this writing (July 2018) the kittens are nearly 5 months old, and they still like to nurse on their blanket. This was something that Zine did all his life, but instead of a blanket, he liked to nurse on my mother’s pajamas. I’ve started introducing a few of Zine’s favorite foods to see if the kittens like them as well. So far they have tried yogurt, cottage cheese, and lamb; and they love them all just as Zine did.”
“As the kittens grow, I imagine some differences may emerge. Right now, I’ve focused on looking for the similarities. One thing that is different is the spots on the fur. I anticipated this though, since the spots are developed during the pregnancy.”
In case you’re curious Sam also adopted the surrogate mom (affectionately named Cozy Hope – see above photo on left). And the kittens also have 3 other rescue cats who live with them in the home.
Sam said that his ViaGen Pets support team were exceptional throughout the whole cloning experience – they were extremely attentive and responsive whenever he had questions or concerns. The hardest part for him was waiting for his kittens to be born.
“We’re thrilled to see the joy that Zine Jr. & Zinou have brought to Sam and his family. We are excited to watch them grow!” ~ Codi Lamb, Client Service Team – ViaGen Pets.
In closing we had to ask the obvious and here’s how Sam responded: “Cloning is worth it, but it is as stressful as doing in vitro fertilization (IVF).”
Would he do it again? We’re betting yes, but stay tuned…