HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (WCNC/NBC)— At first glance, you’d think she was a typical kitten; a beautiful grey, fluffy feline with hazel eyes.
But Cinnabun the second is actually a cloned cat who lives with her family on Lake Norman.
“She likes to be combed,” said Ashley Bullerdick, Cinnabun’s owner.
Bullerdick and her husband, Bryan, couldn’t believe it was an option when their first Cinnabun was getting old.
“I can’t really put into words, but the bond was indescribable,” she said.
Cinnabun the first was a special cat for the couple. They rescued her when she was nine months old as they were newlyweds.
“She just pulled at my heart-strings since the day I got her,” Bullerdick said. “That’s a special time: Happy, in love, and she just added to all of that.”
They rescued several other cats as the years went on. At one point, the animal lovers had six cats in the house at once. But when Cinnabun turned 19-years-old, they started thinking about how they could get their special feline to live on.
“We had another cat who we had at the same time; she was a bred cat. So we found the father. She had died young,” Bullerdick’s husband said. “So we went and had another cat with the same father.”
Since the couple had no way of finding Cinnabun’s parents, they turned to science.
Bullerdick’s husband said it started with an article he read about Barbara Streisand cloning her dog.
“I never knew that could happen,” he said.
After a lot of research and vetting, he called ViaGen Pets in Texas. It was a company that was known for cloning horses, dogs, and cats. It was the same company Streisand used, according to Bullerdick’s husband.
“They were very professional,” he said. “We went ahead and bought a kit without making a decision.”
The kit cost the couple $1,600. They said it sat in the freezer for months as they debated what they wanted to do.
Finally, as Cinnabun was getting closer and closer to the Rainbow Bridge, they sealed the deal. They went to the vet and got the skin and saliva sample needed. They sent off the kit to the cloning company.
“We waited six months,” Bullerdick said. “We were like, oh no. We really wanted to get her while Cinnabun (the first) was still alive.”
The couple paid $25,000 to have the cloning done. They said they don’t regret spending all that money on Cinnabun the second.
“Yes, it is a lot of money,” Bryan explained. “But people choose different things on what to spend money on. People buy nice boats on Lake Norman here, or people will buy nice cars or vacations. Vacation is a memory that will last a week, this is part of the family that can hopefully be with us for 19 years.”
The new Cinnabun is just like her predecessor, according to the family.
“An exact DNA match. Looks? Yes! It’s spot on,” said Ashley.
The new kitten’s personality is the same, too. The family said she is sweet and feisty just like Cinnabun the first. She even sleeps where the old Cinnabun slept every night — on Ashley’s pillow above her head.
“She just gets up on the bed every night and goes right to the pillow,” she said.
The couple said they would be open to a Cinnabun the third, but they haven’t made their decision yet.
In the meantime, they plan on caring for their pet cats, dog, three children, and continue supporting and donating to local animal groups.