I don’t know about you, but sometimes I want to give my cats a serious squeeze. As a human, I’ve been programmed to show my love through hugs and kisses, but my cats are not always down with my particular brand of affection. They’ll only tolerate my nonsense for a few minutes until they demand to be released back into the wild –- by which I mean the living room, of course.
Fortunately, Cuddle Clones has an unusual solution to this challenge I face on a daily basis: Why not create stuffed animals that look identical to my cats? And when I say “identical,” I mean no detail is left unobserved. Cuddle Clones takes care to capture each pet’s unique look, such as the adorable freckle on my cat Phoenix’s nose or the scar on Bubba Lee Kinsey’s ear.
“They are all made by hand, 100-percent customized,” says Adam Greene, Cuddle Clones cofounder and president of marketing. “Sometimes it is difficult to capture an expression or a particular facial structure but we’ll make as many versions as we have to in order to capture the pet’s look as best as we can. We’ll capture birthmarks, scars, a snaggletooth, missing limbs/eyes, etc. — there’s no detail we won’t take on.”
Founded in 2013, Cuddle Clones got its start when Jennifer Williams, the company’s other founder and CEO, wanted to honor the memory of her Great Dane, Rufus, who passed away in 2009.
“She randomly thought one day while napping with him that a stuffed-animal lookalike of him would be a great way to memorialize him when he passed away,” Greene says. “I think we’re the most proud of being able to, in some small way, help people cope with the loss of a pet. That’s really why we started the business. Jennifer and I both have lost animals and know the hurt it can cause.”
Cuddle Clones are not only a great way to remember pets we’ve lost. They also allow our pets to accompany us on those aspects of life’s journey where animals are not necessarily allowed, like a college dorm room or a lengthy trip away from home. Greene says that one woman wanted to remember her cat, Hank, when she joined the military.
“She was deployed and wanted something to help her remember Hank while she was out of the country, something to squeeze and cuddle with when going to sleep,” he says. “Of course, the real Hank would have been preferred, but she later thanked us so much for capturing Hank’s ‘grouchy face’ — she said having the clone comforted her while she was away and made her that much more excited to see the real Hank when she got back.”
In this way, Cuddle Clones captures the emotional bond people share with their pets -– and for that reason, business is booming. In addition to stuffed animals, Cuddle Clones also makes custom figurines and granite memorials. Greene says they’re growing the company as quickly as they can to accommodate the new orders, but they want to stay true to their high standards and attention to detail.
“Wait times have definitely increased because we’re unwilling to lower our quality standards,” he says. “In the long run, we think our customers will appreciate this position — even if they have to wait awhile for their clone.”
I would happily wait as long as necessary for a clone of my Phoenix that I could hug when she’s, uh, busy (and by “busy” I mean napping). Other people have grown so attached to their Cuddle Clones that they dress them up — in particular, Greene mentions Winston, a cat whose owner thinks he looks best in a hat and tie. Greene and Williams have received no shortage of thank-you notes, particularly from people who have lost their pets.
“We regularly receive thank-you cards and emails from customers thanking us for giving them a small portion of their beloved pet back and explaining how it is truly helping them cope with the loss,” Greene says.
In addition to providing an identical twin to your cat who doesn’t mind being hugged, Cuddle Clones also donates a portion of its revenue each year to animal shelters and other good causes, such as Dogs on Deployment (which we wrote about on Dogster), PetFinder, and specific animals who have special needs.
“We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve donated about one percent of revenue to animal charities and individual pets since we started the company,” Greene says. “And that’s revenue, not profits. We know it’s not the smartest business decision, but we’d rather donate while we can regardless of whether or not we make a profit.”
More by Angela Lutz:
Learn more about your cat with Catster:
About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.