Tricarbocyanine dyes have become popular tools in life sciences and medicine. Their near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence makes them ideal agents for imaging of thick specimens or in vivo imaging, e.g., in fluorescence-guided surgery. Among other types of cyanine dyes, meso-Cl tricarbocyanine dyes have received a surge of interest, as it emerged that their high reactivity makes them inherently tumor-targeting. As such, significant research efforts have focused on conjugating these to functional moieties. However, the syntheses generally suffer from low yields. Hereby, we report on the reaction of meso-Cl dyes with a small selection of coupling reagents to give the corresponding keto-polymethines, potentially explaining low yields and the prevalence of monofunctionalized cyanine conjugates in the current state of the art of functional near-infrared dyes. We present the synthesis and isolation of the first keto-polymethine-based conjugate and present preliminary investigation in the prostate cancer cell lines PC3 and DU145 by confocal microscopy and discuss changes to optical properties in biological media.