I take certain issue with the “crazy cat lady” stereotype for a number of reasons—mental illness stigma is a big enough problem without us going around labeling people, there’s no equivalent for men who like cats and, well, there’s nothing wrong with having a favorite animal. Plenty of people have a favorite animal.
But I will admit to being a cat enthusiast. The problem—and I don’t deny there’s pretty much always a problem with cats, but then again show me a dog, or a child for that matter, who hasn’t thrown up on the rug at least once—is that my cat, Joanie, isn’t as much of an Alyssa enthusiast as I’d like her to be. Despite the many years Joanie and I spent together, just the two of us, after I rescued her from the clutches of an East New York incinerator, she has made known, again and again, her clear and unwavering preference for my husband, a guy she basically just met. I provide Joanie food, water, and a clean place to pee, but it’s Bob who has a cat to cuddle with on the couch, to cuddle with in bed (watch them spoon, and then call me the crazy cat lady), and even to cuddle, on his lap, as he works from home. This cat is man’s best friend.
But I don’t need them, not anymore. Because the brilliant (if dog-loving) Jennifer Graham came up with the idea to offer stuffed animal versions of people’s pets—and “not a generic stuffed animal, but one that was 100% custom-made to look just like” them. She named her company Cuddle Clones. For a few hundred bucks—cheaper, I might add, than Joanie’s monthly prescription food supply, and part of the cost is donated to pet-related causes—the company will custom-create a plush clone of your favorite animal. Many people seem to think a Cuddle Clone is an especially good way to memorialize a pet that’s died. I say why wait?
I provided 12 photos of Joanie—Joanie sitting, Joanie lying down, photos showing Joanie’s eyes, tail, belly, and what I considered her best features—along with her measurements (XL). A few weeks later, “Cloanie” arrived on my doorstep, green eyes, tiger stripes, oversized gut and all, her favorite resting position replicated to eerie perfection. Cloanie even faked out Bob, who stepped on the real Joanie’s tail thinking he’d just seen her on the couch. He hadn’t. He’d seen Cloanie! I even caught our other cat doing a double take.
Is it creepy to clone your pet when she’s still alive (or at all)? Maybe. Is it creepy to be buying stuffed animals for your adult self? Again, maybe. But Cuddle Clones are also pretty clever—a great gift, for any age (and as the company rightly points out, “Cuddle Clones can go places real pets can’t go, like work, vacation, the grocery store”). Plus, it’s definitely less creepy than the taxidermy route, which I can’t say I haven’t assumed was something I’d do once Joanie’s time was up. For my husband, of course.
Main image: Cloanie and Joanie spend quality time together.