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Curious About Your Cat’s Ancestry? A Cat DNA Test Could Help!
Are you curious as a kitten when it comes to your cat’s ancestry? If the answer is yes, then you’re in luck. Feline lovers who want to know a little more about their best bud’s breed and genetic background can now uncover some interesting details thanks to the rising popularity of cat DNA test kits.
What is A Cat DNA Test?
Cat DNA tests have been available to the cat-having public for years, but it wasn’t until recently that cat genome sequencing became available to consumers — which has opened up a whole new world for cat ancestry research.
This new age of genome sequencing can be captured via cat DNA test kits — which will help you learn more about their breed and physical traits and can also reveal some potentially lifesaving information about genetic health markers that represent risk for conditions like retinal degeneration, polycystic kidney disease, and HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy).
Plain and simple, there’s a lot of information readily available through these testing services. But do the DNA test kits really work?
Cat DNA Test Kit Companies Racing to Be the Best
Existing companies are currently in a race to provide the most relevant information possible and none are currently able to report on every breed of feline, which means you may be left without some of the answers you’re looking for.
Cat science has long been underfunded and it seems that scientists are having a difficult time tying cat genome sequences to breeds, which is why if you submit one of these tests on a mixed breed cat, you’ll likely get results largely reporting ‘Polybreed’ which accounts for ~95% of felines.
The cat DNA testing market is an unregulated one, and companies are able to get away with providing the consumer results that could be considered insignificant, difficult to understand, and potentially incorrect.
In an article for Nature by Lisa Moses, we’re forewarned…
“Companies are beginning to offer tests for cats, but the science is lagging. Most of these tests are based on small, underpowered studies. Neither their accuracy nor their ability to predict health outcomes has been validated. Most vets don’t know enough about the limitations of the studies, or about genetics in general, to be able to advise worried owners.”
Although competitors are striving to update customers on their pet’s information as science advances, it may be in your best interest to wait it out to see which providers even endure in such a new market. After all, a company can’t provide you updates if they’re out of business.
Cat DNA Test Kit Options
If you do ultimately decide to try a cat DNA test, there are a few options for kits currently available to consumers.
Popularized on Shark Tank in 2019, Basepaws is the current leader of the feline DNA testing market, offering $149 health and breed kits with all the information necessary for the average cat lover, and $599 whole genome sequencing kits that include raw data, lifetime health and breed updates, an hour of consultation with a genetics coach, and much more.
There are a couple of more affordable options available to consumers, such as the $49 basic CFA panel from CatDNATest.org — which is aimed more towards breeders and owners of pedigree felines. This kit provides information about parentage, physical traits, and some genetic health risks, but isn’t breed specific.
Optimal Selection offers a feline test kit for $100 that can provide information about your cat’s breed, risk for over 40 genetic diseases, over 20 different traits, and information is even updated as research surfaces.
What Do Cat LoverS Think About DNA Test Kits
According to a poll we conducted on social media, roughly 74% of cat loving fans would be interested in learning more about their cat’s ancestry via a DNA test kit.
If you’re one of these curious cat people, be sure to do your own research. Thankfully there are plenty of reviews available about the leading test providers on YouTube and in various blogs.
Most consumers it appears are happy with their results and many of them stated that they’ve enjoyed reading through them. And most most cat owners highlighted the benefits of testing their feline for disease-associated genetic markers preemptively, especially as certain breeds tend to be susceptible to different diseases.
Still on the fence about cat DNA testing? Remember that there’s nothing wrong with learning all you can about your feline. In fact, some of the data could potentially help you give them a healthier and happier life.
And if you just can’t decide if it’s worth the money, maybe consider investing some $ into your cat’s livelihood through vet care, nutrition, grooming, play or a donation to your local animal shelter.