In a world where everyone’s swabbing their cheeks and discovering their ancestry, it’s only natural that the craze has extended to our four-legged feline friends. That’s right, we’re talking about cat DNA tests.
If you’ve ever been curious about the genetics that lie beneath your cat’s fur, you’ve come to the right place. Join us as we delve into the world of feline genetics and discover the different kinds of cat DNA tests, their accuracy, and what you’ll learn from testing your cat’s genetics. Let’s dive in!
Can I Test My Cat for Breed?
While some of us may be content with our mixed-breed kitties, others are curious about their cat’s lineage. This brings us to the question: Can you test your cat’s DNA to find out its breed?
The answer is yes, but with a few caveats. Cat breeds, unlike their canine counterparts, are not as easily distinguishable through genetic markers. The majority of domestic cats are mixed breeds, making it trickier to pinpoint their lineage accurately. While cat DNA tests can provide some insights into your cat’s breed makeup, they may not be as precise as you’d hope. This is because cats were domesticated only about 8,000 years ago – thousands of years after dogs were domesticated.
While dogs were selectively bred for their temperament and ability to perform certain tasks, cats basically domesticated themselves. They started hanging around humans and slowly developed traits that helped them further bond with their owners. The deliberate creation of distinct cat breeds didn’t happen until about 150 years ago, however. In fact, some rare breeds are only 50 years old. Thus, cats that look extremely different from each other are actually very similar genetically, and and estimated 90% of cats don’t have a purebred bloodline at all.
What Can I Learn From DNA Testing My Cat?
So, what can you actually learn from DNA testing your cat? Quite a bit, actually! Cat DNA tests primarily offer two types of information: where your cat’s ancestors are from and potential health insights.
Feline genetic markers are separated into four categories: the Mediterranean Basin, Europe/America, Africa, and Asia. Most cat DNA tests will tell you which region your cat’s bloodline is from. They can even give you an estimate of the various breeds present in your cat’s genetic makeup. Keep in mind, though, that the results might not always be as specific as you’d like, especially for mixed-breed cats.
Most cat DNA tests also offer information about potential genetic health issues your cat may be predisposed to. Some can even tell you if dental disease is present. This can be valuable for preventative care and early intervention, but it’s not a definitive diagnosis. Always consult with your veterinarian for a comprehensive health assessment if you’re worried about your feline friend.
Are Cat DNA Tests Accurate?
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: Are cat DNA tests accurate? The short answer is that it varies. The accuracy of a cat DNA test depends on several factors. These include the test’s methodology, the database of genetic markers used for comparison, and the genetic diversity of your cat.
While these tests have come a long way in recent years, they may still struggle to identify less common breeds or accurately pinpoint mixed-breed cats. What’s accurate today may be refined in the future, as genetic testing is also continually evolving.
Suggested reading: How accurate are dog DNA tests? Read how to decode your canine’s heritage here.
What Companies Offer Cat DNA Tests?
There are several companies offering cat DNA tests, each with its unique approach and features. Let’s take a closer look at three popular options.
Orivet DNA Test Purebred Cat Full Breed Profile
The Orivet DNA Test focuses on providing comprehensive breed profiles for purebred cats. Thus, if you have a pedigree friend such as a Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Burmese, or Blue Persian, this might be a good choice for you. It also screens for over 30 health markers and traits, such as spinal muscular atrophy, kidney disease, and certain blood groups.
So, what are buyers saying about the Orivet DNA test? Honestly, the reviews are pretty mixed. Many users report feeling disappointed for paying so much and receiving so little information. One person wrote: “I was very disappointed to spend so much money to find out my cat’s breed and it came back 100% American Shorthair. I obviously knew that! I thought this test would further break down specific ancestors and genetics and give me percentages of his makeup. And it doesn’t. Obviously, I made a mistake in purchasing this product as I was looking for greater detail in my “American Shorthair” stray cat.”
However, another customer provided a more favorable review stating: “I liked the product because it was easy to collect and send and the results were thorough and covered important diseases. It also told me my cat’s breed.”
Basepaws Cat DNA Test: Breed and Health Results
The Basepaws Cat DNA Test offers a more inclusive approach, catering to both purebred kitties and mixed breeds. They provide an overview of the breeds in your cat’s bloodline. This includes the identification of health risks and insights, like the markers for Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) and Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Basepaws even tests for the three most common dental diseases, and their large database of genetic markers only becomes more accurate as more samples are sent in.
So, do Basepaws customers like what they purchased? Overall, the reviews are mostly positive, with 75% of buyers leaving 5-star reviews. One customer wrote: “I got a 68-page report on my cat! It is dead on! Thank you BasePaws” while another mentioned the product was “Expensive, mostly useless, and likely incorrect.”
Cat DNA Test
One look at CatDNAtest.org and you might question if it’s a legitimate company. We can assure you that it is! Cat DNA Test was created by the Cat Fancier’s Association, Inc. and performed by the largest animal genetic testing laboratory in the world, Neogen GeneSeek. They offer affordable testing options for veterinarians, breeders, and cat owners who want to know more about their four-legged friend’s health. Starting at just $45, their basic panel includes identity markers, parentage, and health markers such as Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. It also includes testing for Longhair, Brown, Agouti, and Dilute traits.
While the test is cheap and Neogen is a reputable company, the process of collecting your cat’s DNA isn’t as easy as some of the other tests. It also doesn’t include any breed testing.
How Much Will a Cat DNA Test Cost?
Pricing for cat DNA tests can vary widely. You’ll find options ranging from around $45 to $160 or more. The cost often reflects the depth of information provided, the company’s reputation, and the kit’s ease of use. Keep in mind that cheaper tests might offer fewer genetic markers. This can affect the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the results.
Tests like Basepaws, which cater to a large segment of cat owners and is relatively easy to use, tend to be higher in price. However, tests like Neogen’s Cat DNA test are cheaper due to its large customer base of veterinarians and breeders. Ultimately, you’ll have to take into account the information you’re looking for in a cat DNA test, the reputation of the company and product, and the cost of the test.
Can My Vet Do a DNA Test on My Cat?
While many cat owners turn to at-home DNA testing kits, you can also consult your veterinarian for DNA testing options. Vets may have access to more comprehensive tests that can provide a deeper understanding of your cat’s health. They’ll also be able to provide guidance on the conditions you should test for, including consultation on the results of those tests. We highly recommend this route if you’re worried about a specific condition affecting your beloved kitty.
Pro tip: If you’re a cat owner, you know that the vet bills can add up quickly. Save money by finding affordable vet care near you.
Find a Deeper Connection With Your Cat Through a DNA Test
In the end, the decision to test your cat’s DNA comes down to your curiosity and desire for a deeper connection with your cat. Whether you’re eager to unravel the mysteries of their lineage or gain insights into their health, it’s essential to approach cat genetic testing with reasonable expectations.
As you already know, your cat’s true worth lies in the unconditional love and companionship they offer, regardless of their genetic makeup. So, go ahead and indulge your curiosity. However, don’t forget to shower your kitties with affection and take them to the vet if you have serious health concerns. After all, they’re family no matter what their DNA says!
Would you test your cat’s DNA? Let us know in the comments below!
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