For one of my first posts for Pawesome, I wrote about DNA My Dog, an Ontario-based business that does genetic testing on dogs to help breakdown their breed profile. Now cat lovers may be able to enjoy a similar service, thanks to work done by a geneticist at the University of California.
Leslie Lyons, head of UC’s Lyons Feline Genetics Laboratory, says she has developed a test that can determine if your cat’s parents or grandparents were one of the 29 “major fancy breeds” of cats. She offers the testing by mail for about $120. Here’s how it works:
Lyons’ lab isolates the DNA from the swab and tests for specific markers (single nucleotide polymorphisms), which it then uses to generate a profile. This is compared to a database of global cat profiles to see which race it shares the most variants with — the eight regions that mixed or “random bred” cats (the most common type) originate from are Western Europe, South Asia, Egypt, Eastern Mediterranean, Arabian Sea, Iran/Iraq, India and East Asia (most breeds hail from the first four locations). Lyons collected most of the cat samples for the database while attending cat shows hosted by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), The International Cat Association (TICA) and others around the globe.
However, if your cat is truly randomly bred, you may not get accurate results or a match to a particular breed. As well, cats outside the United States have heritages that will be harder to trace. On the plus side, if you’ve got a alpaca or yak at home, Lyons’ lab will test the genetic heritage of those too.
Photo of awesome Bowie cat — not one of the 29 “major fancy breeds” — by Konstantinos Papakonstantinou