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Top 5 DNA Tests for Your Cat (2021 review)

Updated on: July 17, 2021
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Cats can be mysterious creatures. They are independent, aloof, and sometimes downright fickle. They can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

If you think about it, they are just like us humans.

But unlike humans, cats are hard to read. Sure, you know when they are mad, hungry, or in heat (or all three,) but what's going through that furry little head?

Cats are also prone to illness, and that's where DNA testing comes in.

The Crystal Palace cat show in 1871 triggered a revolutionary feline fancy. Over 20,000 people showed up to witness exhibits of different breeds of cats.

About 150 to 211 exotic cats, ranging from the Persian long-haired cat, the first Siamese cat, the British wild cat, and the polydactyl cats, were exhibited during the shows.

The featured cats won prizes based on how fancy they looked to a huge crowd of working-class spectators.

Cat shows offered a glimpse of categorizing cat phenotypes; it began with simple sectioning between color and coat length. From here, specialty breed groups came up, with fanciers drawing even more precise lines between breeds.

Top 5 DNA Tests for Your Cat (2021 review) 1
BasePaws

The 23andMe of Cat DNA Testing

Basepaws gets our recommendation for cat DNA testing because they're an established company, they are the market leader, and provide terrific info for you and your cat.

From these categories, only 16 are considered ‘natural' or ‘foundational' breed groups, with the others forming some sort of mixed-breed cats. Although many breeds have only been around for about 100 years or less, Bengals and Ragdolls are some of the most recent to be developed.

Fast forward to the early and mid-1990s, the first DNA mutations in cats were discovered. Humans took interest in the genetic makeup of animals and this resulted in a groundbreaking milestone; DNAs could also influence an animal's phenotype.

Cats were not exempted. Scientists discovered that mutation in a cat's DNA caused diseases, changes in visible traits, and physical features. They illustrated the importance of a cat's genetic makeup. Since then, feline DNA testing has grown massively.

Scientists also noticed that the genetic makeup of a cat could influence its breeding. Cats with favorable gene variants could be selectively bred into exotic cats with pedigree.

They pointed out how these gene variants could determine cats' ancestry or pedigree. This discovery led to a massive change in the way we see cats.

Since then, average cat owners can now know more about their cats by doing a simple cat DNA test.

Testing Dog DNA vs Cat DNA

Compared to dog breeds, there is much less interest in determining your cat's heritage, with the funding and research to match. However, some diseases can be passed between cat owners and their feline companions that drive the research on cat wellness and genetic diseases. Asthma, certain eye diseases, and polycystic kidney disease (PKD) develop through similar pathways in both species.

Unfortunately, while physical features and genetic disease predisposition can be reliably determined from genetic testing in some cases, temperament is still a mystery when it comes to cats. The breeding of dogs was driven by the creation of domestic companions and working colleagues with a personality to match. However, cat breeds have been a primarily aesthetic pursuit; even cloning a feline friend doesn't guarantee a matching mood.


Are you worried about what you're feeding your cat? Check out our article on 4 Best Cat Intolerance Tests.


Modern domestic cat breeding has been shifting the focus to temperament and predictability. The relatively recent craze of ‘wild cats' - Bengals, Ocicats, Savannah, Egyptian Maus - has forced the issue. Additionally, the natural characteristics of these wild cats must be bred away; otherwise, sharing a living space would be impossible, with incessant pacing and territorial marking

Recently, genetics and at-home feline DNA testing have allowed breeders to make informed decisions to avoid the inevitable negative outcomes of in-breeding. In addition, these technologies are now available to the general public, allowing you to understand the making and history of your feline friend.

Like children, analyzing the DNA of your domestic companion can help you make educated lifestyle, health, and wellness decisions on their behalf. Thankfully, many of the privacy- and ethics-related concerns are waived when dealing with your pet; a full genetic test is only ever in their best interest.

What a Cat DNA Test Can Tell You

Cat’s Breed

Their cat’s genetic makeup may be a complete mystery for the proud pet owners of rescued or stray cats. When, or if, a breed is assigned at the receiving SPCA or rescue operation, it's usually based solely on visuals alone.

Top 5 DNA Tests for Your Cat (2021 review) 2

Feline DNA testing can provide you with a breakdown of the genetic makeup of your favorite furry friend. As a result of your breed test, you may be surprised to find that your pet's feline DNA is purebred Maine Coon, Siamese, Ragdoll, or that your 1:1 mixed-breed is a combination of a dozen different cat breeds.

Cat’s Hybrid Status

Many of these DNA test kits provide you with details on the percentage of wild cat DNA that exists within your domestic companion. This isn't the ancestral history or origin of your cat; it assesses more recent incursions from nature.

This kind of test is more applicable to larger, spotted, or ambiguous kitties than your average tabby. Although, the results may be surprising if they're included in the kit you choose.

Cat’s Health Risks

23andMe and many of the best cat DNA tests provide insight into potentially inherited health risks. For some cat DNA tests, this is included in the base price; for others, it's an optional add-on.

Top 5 DNA Tests for Your Cat (2021 review) 3

Some diseases and illnesses are more likely among certain breeds, underlying many of the health-related results these tests provide. However, some take it a step farther by scanning for specific disease-causing variants outside of breed analysis.

These insights may allow you to take proactive measures to prevent the onset of illness; they may also help you prepare for unpreventable outcomes, like blindness or deafness. Regardless, DNA testing could be vital to your cat's health and is something every responsible pet owner ought to consider.

Benefits of knowing your cat's breed

Cat breeds are not as common as dog breeds. They are much harder to determine. Unless your cats are from a cat breeder with identification papers, you have just as well a cat.

But, this doesn't mean it's impossible.

Cat breeds are widespread globally. It's important for cat owners, who care about their cats, to be aware of the regions where cat breeds and their genetic mutations are common.

There are over 70 hereditary mutations in cats. Many of these mutations influence diseases, coat color, and other physical anomalies.

Knowing the breed of your cat can help you identify these anomalies and manage them properly. You can determine the breed of your cat through DNA testing.

DNA cat testing is growing massively. With DNA testing, you can discover the genetic makeup of your cat. Your cat's genetic makeup helps you determine its breed through specific phenotypic features like hairs, nails, and body structure.

Knowing the breed of your cat can also help in the following ways:

  • It can help determine hereditary diseases associated with your cat breed.
  • It can help you take care of your cat better.
  • It can help you know how much these conditions can affect future kittens.

There are a lot of DNA cat testing companies you can trust.

Details on cat DNA tests

Like human DNA tests, there is always a margin for error in the estimates they provide, especially for health-related markers. However, the recent nature of cat evolution has made tracking their ancestry much more reliable than that of humans.

The following cat DNA test reviews will cover some of the better cat DNA tests on Amazon and the market in general.

Steps to testing your Cat's DNA

  1. Order a kit to take your cat's DNA.
  2. Swab your cats cheek using the kit's provided swab.
  3. Send in your cheek swab with your cat's DNA on it.
  4. Wait for the results.
  5. Periodically check results, as science can be added to the reports as new discoveries are made.

6 Best Cat DNA Tests

Below is the list of the top DNA tests for cats. These kits were carefully and meticulously reviewed prior to recommendation.

Basepaws - the 23andMe of Cat DNA Testing

Each genetic testing kit is quite different, with specific goals, options, and strengths. Therefore, they're not listed in any particular order. Choose the best one for you and your domestic cat.

Basepaws is one of the larger companies that focuses on cat genetics. Their test covers everything - your cat's health, breed, traits, and the wild cat index.

The test results feature a breed report that is more in-depth than much of the competition's offerings. The Basepaws report covers the four major breed groups, including the key cat breeds that are found in each group.

With Basepaws' cat health screening, their test results will tell you if your cat has one of 39 genetic mutations. These mutations are responsible for 17 common kitty conditions and diseases. This includes polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a potentially deadly condition found in an estimated 30% to 38% of Persians across the globe.


Top 5 DNA Tests for Your Cat (2021 review) 4

Key Features:

  • Breed focused, but can’t guarantee breed
  • Cheek swab test
  • Health test checks 39 markers for genetic mutation carrier status and predisposition to 17 diseases
  • Recently added, and always expanding, health details
  • Community and coaching features coming soon

Basepaws Whole Genome Sequencing - The Most Comprehensive Cat’s DNA Test

The Whole Genome Sequencing report by Basepaws delivers 10,000 times more raw data than any other DNA kit on the market. All this data allows you to fully explore your feline's genetics so you can find variants you may have missed otherwise.

The Basepaws cat DNA test collects so much data that it is used to find undiscovered genetic markers, contributing to the future of feline DNA testing. The cat DNA test kit includes your cat's breed and health information and all the raw data derived from the sequencing. The entirety of this information will be sent to you on a USB flash drive.

To take the test, all you need to do is use a buccal swab to collect a sample by swabbing the inside of your cat's cheek. You have to wait one hour from the last time your pet has eaten before taking the sample. Basepaws checks your feline's cheek cells to make certain it meets quality standards before testing it. Your DNA test kit includes a regularly updated cat breed and health report that's available online.


Top 5 DNA Tests for Your Cat (2021 review) 5

Key Features:

  • Minimum of 15X coverage using high-depth whole-genome sequencing
  • Consultation with a cat coach and genetic advisor
  • Cat’s breed and health report are updated continuously
  • 100% of the genome is decoded
  • 21 breed types from 4 breed regions checked

Optimal Selection DNA by Wisdom Health: $100

From a quick swabbing of your cat's cheek, you can gather some of your pet's cheek cells to learn a ton of valuable information. This kit will uncover a wealth of data about your cat's health, including its risk for up to 40 genetic diseases.

The genetic testing kit also explores your cat's breed, using genetic markers to check for over 20 traits. The traits tested for include coat type, morphology, and blood type, all derived from a single cat’s DNA sample!


Top 5 DNA Tests for Your Cat (2021 review) 6

Key Features:

  • Aimed at breeders, a similar level of detail to 23andMe
  • Only works with purebred cats
  • Swab test
  • Analyzes the extent of inbreeding in a given cat
  • Extensive health breakdown
  • Can’t guarantee the breed
  • Communication tools to connect breeders and fanciers

MyCatDNA: $100

MyCatDNA uses a quick cheek swab to test for over 40 genetic diseases and 20+ traits. They will also give you genetic diversity information, including the overall breed population and related breed groups.


Top 5 DNA Tests for Your Cat (2021 review) 7

Key Features:

  • Cheek swab test
  • Details on health and genetic ancestry
  • Can even provide insight on specific lines within breeds
  • 1 year of access to the breeder matchmaking system

Orivet HomeDNA: Price depends on tests

Orivet offers a variety of tests that are aimed more at veterinarians and cat breeders than they are at the average pet owners. Their DNA tests cover just about everything, from cat breeds, genetic traits, diseases to full breed profiles.


Top 5 DNA Tests for Your Cat (2021 review) 8

Key Features:

  • Aimed at breeders and veterinarians
  • Specific tests for known breeds and expected diseases

CatDNATest.org: $45

These affordable DNA testing kits, offered by CatDNATest.org, will tell you about your cat's genetic traits and health conditions. Their basic CFA panel will only cost you $45 and identifies your cat's sex determinant genetic and health markers, traits, parentage, and more.

The test results include information on your furry friend's coat color, long or short hair, and the likelihood of developing conditions like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. For an extra $5, you can take advantage of one of their add-on tests. These cover your pet's blood type, color points (for Burmese and Siamese), albinism, polycystic kidney disease (PKD), and more.


Top 5 DNA Tests for Your Cat (2021 review) 9

Key Features:

  • Very basic and specific, requires base knowledge
  • Processes swabs and blood samples
  • Can confirm parentage/offspring (between samples)
  • Basic traits and high-impact genetic illnesses
  • Add-on tests available for a fee

Difference between cat pedigree and ancestry (Traits to look out for)

Your cat pedigree is simply the category of breed your cat represents.

Ethical breeders may breed cats due to different reasons. These reasons may be to obtain some exotic features, behaviors, and other aesthetics.

A pedigree cat is a purebred cat. These cats are bred to preserve specific characteristics and breed-related behaviors.

Pedigree cats are carefully selected and are allowed to breed only within themselves. Some pedigree cats breed naturally in a specific region and keep their gene pool within their species.

Ethical breeders may select these cats and breed them based on accepted legal genetic protocols. An example of a pedigree cat is the purebred Siamese which is known for its blue eyes.

Another good example is the Ocicat, which you would notice usually have spotted coats.

Pedigree cats are highly sought after and are usually expensive. 

Your cat ancestry is simply the region where your cats formerly existed. It's your cat's ancestral lineage.

Some characteristics are known and common within some cat breeds. Some features include the legs, coat color, fur type, fur length, and others. You can use these features to determine your cat's ancestors and know more about them.

All of these are possible with DNA testing.

Cat DNA testing has made it easy to determine cat ancestry. Calibrated features specific to different breeds of cats have made this possible.

However, if you love your cats, the thrill of discovering their ancestry can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience.

It is fun and exciting to know the origin of your little furry friend.

You can do this using available cat DNA testing kits.

How can I protect my cat from diseases?

Just like humans, cats need protection from diseases, too.

Although they are hygienic and usually take care of themselves, they are still prone to illnesses.

Cats can hunt and eat infected animals. It can cause them to become sick. It is necessary to protect your cats in any way you can.

There are practical ways you can protect your cats from common illnesses.

Let's find out how.

  1. Keep their environment clean.

Responsible pet owners keep their cat home clean. Cats can get infected with microbes, too. These can occur when they live in a dirty environment. 

Keeping the environment clean will not only prevent the cats from infections, but it will also protect you from contracting the infections from them.

You can clean their homes at least twice a week with antiseptics. Doing this will ensure maximum protection from all microbes.

  1. Feed them a well-balanced diet.

Poor diet is one of the reasons why your cat may be prone to diseases. Diets contain nutrients that can boost your cat's immune system.

Feeding your cat diets rich in vitamins and minerals is essential to keeping illnesses at bay.

Since most cats grew up as hunters, proteins, fiber, and a moderate amount of fats should be the major nutrients in their food.

You can also include the recommended amounts of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in their diets.

  1. Take them to the vet.

Most pet owners wait till their cats are sick before taking them to the vet.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends you take your cat for a vet visit at least once a year, regardless of whether the cat is sick or not.

It's best to have a good relationship with your veterinarian. This relationship can help you to get accurate information about the well-being of your cat.

A good relationship with your vet allows you to monitor your cat's health right from the beginning. If any health risk is detected earlier, there would be enough time to correct it.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends you take your cat for a vet visit at least once a year, regardless of whether the cat is sick or not.

The vet should recommend a timeline for administering these vaccines.

Your vet may also offer advice on parasitic infestations. They can give you information on ticks and fleas and how to protect your cats against them.

A final word on cat DNA tests

Unless you’re a breeder or veterinarian, Basepaws is probably the best bet for the most actionable and useful information about your cat. It requires no knowledge of your cat’s history upfront and provides you with a full genome picture of your feline friend. However, while that may not be completely useful at the moment, outside a few instances, this will only become more helpful as research proceeds.

Finally, there are many reasons to give your cat the same attention that a family member would deserve. You can avoid surprises when it comes to illness that may manifest. You can also get confirmation on the components of your kitty’s mix. Tests like these can give you a new appreciation for the heritage of your furry friend.

FAQ

How much does a cat DNA test cost?

The prices vary from test to test, with cheaper tests (like CatDNATest.org) going for as little as $45. More expensive tests can easily cost you over $100.

Are cat DNA tests accurate?

As long as you use a trusted company, your test results should be pretty accurate. DNA testing is still an evolving science though, so their accuracy is constantly improving.

How do cat DNA tests work?

Depending on the type of cat DNA kit you purchase, how it works will somewhat vary. In general, you will need to take DNA from the inside of your cat’s cheek and send it to the company’s laboratory. Blood or hair is used with some test kits as well. 

The lab will analyze the sample and check its genes for certain genetic markers associated with breed groups and health issues. Your report is then made available online or sent to you through the mail.

However, with the Basepaws Full Genome Sequencing pet DNA test, the analysis is far more comprehensive. While the majority of other companies only decipher 0.01% to 0.02%, this kit decodes 100% of the genome.

Is my cat at risk for a genetic disease?

While it’s possible to identify some genetic diseases at birth, oftentimes, inherited conditions don’t develop until later in a cat’s life or never manifest themselves at all. Due to several factors such as inbreeding and selective breeding, purebred cats have a higher likelihood of developing a genetic disease within their lifetimes.

Genetic conditions are incredibly common with certain purebred cat breeds. An example of this is Scottish Fold cats, who often suffer from degenerative joint diseases which can lead to deformed limbs and even lameness.

One of the only reliable methods for a cat owner to identify potential genetic diseases in their pet is through DNA testing. Pet DNA tests, such as the Basepaws Breed + Health DNA Test, check for commonly found genetic diseases such as PKD, retinal degeneration, myotonia, and much more.

What good would a cat DNA test do?

A DNA test for cats can give you a wealth of information about its health, breed groups, genetic variants, and breed regions. It can be used as a fun way to get to know a little more about your pet, help diagnose certain genetic conditions, or improve its overall health. If you're a cat breeder, you can use a DNA test to check a cat's carrier status for certain diseases that could be passed onto future generations.

Top 5 DNA Tests for Your Cat (2021 review) 1
BasePaws

The 23andMe of Cat DNA Testing

Basepaws gets our recommendation for cat DNA testing because they're an established company, they are the market leader, and provide terrific info for you and your cat.

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