Advances in genetic science over the last two decades have triggered a curiosity about our own genetic makeup and that of our pets. Now, cat owners can join in by using the best cat DNA test to find out more about what makes their kitty the unique individual that they are.
Cat DNA tests are fairly new and up until a few years ago were only used by vets to test for genetic diseases. Then, breeders started to use them to predict what the offspring of a particular pairing would look like and to screen for diseases in their breeding stock. Now, the tests are available to cat owners. But which one should you choose? Here, we give you everything you need to know about the best tests on the market and what you should look for before trying one out for yourself.
- Cat DNA tests are useful for vets, breeders, and cat owners
- Not all tests look for the same thing
- For some tests, you must know the breed of your cat
- Some tests give an accurate diagnosis of a genetic disease
- Some tests identify the breed and then simply lists the diseases most prevalent in that breed
- Most tests are carried out with cells from a cheek swab
The 10 Top Rated Cat DNA Tests
- Easy and painless procedure to obtain the sample
- Free shipping within the US
- Oral health DNA test evaluated by vets
- Comprehensive genetic diseases screening
This easy, fast, and super informative cat DNA testing kit is the most advanced kit on the market. It gives you breed-specific health data and can even help you improve your relationship with your kitty by revealing personality traits and unique needs.
The Basepaws cat DNA test comes with everything you need to complete the test. You have to create an account, register your kit, swab your cat’s gums and teeth, and post off the sample. The results are returned within six weeks based on 21 cat breeds, 50 trait markers, and 40 diseases. You also get a bonus-free dental health report.
- Results cover breed and ancestry
- Early detection of dental disease saves on vets bills
- Covers 40 genetic diseases so that you can plan ahead
- Quick results and easy to test
- Whole gene sequencing is a lot more expensive
- Information changes as data base grows which can be confusing
- Comprehensive genetic testing
- Tests for 45 genetic conditions
- 25 genetic traits tested including coat type
- Identifies blood type
Vets have collaborated with leading geneticists to produce the Wisdom Panel cat DNA test. You get easy-to-understand information on your cat’s breed, health, and traits. In addition, these DNA test kits give results on genetic diversity and compare it to other cats of the same breed.
These cat DNA tests also give information on blood type and some genetic variants relating to drug sensitivity which could be vital if your kitty needs emergency treatment. It also informs you about the risk for some genetic diseases, including polycystic kidney disease. Breed mixes are reported to the nearest 1%.
- Phone consultation included
- High accuracy (to 1%) on breed identification
- Tests for 45 genetic diseases
- Results are easy to understand
- Cannot be used to tell if two cats are related
- Results have taken longer than a month for some people
- Suitable for owners, breeders and vets
- Breed-appropriate genetic testing
- Personalized life plan that you can share with your vet
- Provides your cat’s blood group
If you want to screen your cat for genetic markers of disease, this would be one of the best cat DNA tests. The Orivet cat DNA test kit will not look for ancestry or breed traits but will screen for diseases associated with your cat’s breed. To give an individual report, it also looks for diseases related to your cat’s age, weight, gender, and lifestyle.
It has services for pet owners (who may not know their cat’s breed), breeders, and vets. Via their website, breeders can also screen for individual diseases such as polycystic kidney disease. It comes with comprehensive instructions, postage is paid for you, and you even get to know your cat’s blood group.
- Easy to carry out with quick results
- Provides a tailored life plan for your cat
- Tests for dozens of diseases
- Results are returned within three weeks
- Does not give details of breed or ancestry
- You must know your cat’s breed(s) to use the test
- Reasonable price for the cat owner
- Suitable for mixed breed cats
- Genetic disease test for 40 conditions
- Physical traits test included
The My Cat DNA test kit is one of the least expensive in our review. Yet, it offers a comprehensive cat DNA testing service available to breeders and pet owners. It can be used on pedigree and mixed breed cats and gives you a blood type.
These feline DNA tests use genome sequencing to look for over 40 genetic conditions, including five acute Intermittent Porphyria and Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency variants. Furthermore, many traits tests are included for different coat types, patterns, and body features. This evaluates genetic diversity and is very valuable if you are considering breeding.
- Tests for 40 genetic conditions
- Gives information on more than 20 traits
- Constantly updated with new information
- Easy to use
- Only likelihood of disease is reported
- Breed health DNA test
- Looks for over 20 genetic traits
- Only suitable for defined breed groups
- Pre-paid postage
Optimal selection cat DNA tests are provided by the Wisdom Panel company that offers ‘My Cat’ DNA tests and human DNA tests. The service is very similar to that provided by ‘My Cat’. It is essentially a breed health DNA test, so it provides cat breed DNA testing and then tells you which diseases are associated with that breed.
Information is reported on more than 40 genetic conditions and 20 different traits, which are mostly connected with coat color. It is a useful test for breeders as you will have an idea about what the kittens will look like.
- Easy to collect the DNA sample
- Information on a large number of diseases
- Gives your cat’s blood type
- Discounts for some breeder associations
- Not a genetic test for diseases
- Affordable cat DNA kit
- Basic test offering five health markers
- Useful for breeders and pet owners
- Add-on tests for blood type available
Provided by catDNAtest.org, this is the budget version of a DNA test for cats. It is straightforward to collect a buccal swab (inside the cheek), but your vet could also collect a blood test. To keep the cat DNA test cost down, they offer a basic test that gives you identity markers, five health markers, and four trait markers.
These cat DNA tests were designed originally for breeders to predict what kittens would be produced from each pairing. However, it can also be handy for cat owners. Some examples of add-on DNA tests include blood type and Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
- Cat DNA testing is carried out by Neogen – one of the largest animal genetic testing companies in the US
- Run by the Cat Fanciers Association Inc
- Inexpensive compared to many other tests
- Flexible – you pay only for what you need
- Operated by a consortium of DNA tests experts and Cat Fanciers Association Inc
- Affordable and quick
- You can pick what service you want
- Blood type test can be added on
- Choice of four DNA tests for cats
- Simple swab from cat’s mouth
- Provides information on 75 diseases through genome sequencing
- Test available for polycystic kidney disease
Easy DNA is a company that provides a broad range of DNA tests for humans and several types of domestic animals. Their feline DNA testing comprises four tests which vary in price by how complex they are.
The cat intolerance analysis tests for insensitivities to food, environmental and artificial allergens. This will help you manage your cat’s exposure and improve their quality of life. It tests for 148 food and 52 non-food allergens, including things like chicken and pollen. The genetic disease test looks for 75 genetic conditions and gives you information on blood groups and traits, such as the color of a cat’s fur and folded ears. Their feline DNA testing for polycystic kidney disease is useful for diagnosis and breeding.
- Simple to collect the DNA sample from inside cat’s cheek
- Several testing options
- Comprehensive cat DNA health screen available
- Genetic traits such as coat color can be tested for
- DNA testing for cat breeds and ancestry (including similarity to wild cats) is not yet available
- You have to choose from several available tests
Best Cat DNA Tests: Buyer’s Guide & FAQs
Cat DNA tests work in different ways and it is important to understand the differences so that you can choose the most appropriate one for you. Here we explain how they work and what you should consider before buying one.
What a Cat DNA Test Can Tell You
These tests analyze the genetic makeup of your kitty by looking for specific DNA sequences. By doing this, the tests can identify a number of characteristics. Firstly, they can detect the presence of genes that cause diseases and conditions such as Burmese Head Defect. This can be essential for diagnosis, health planning and to give you information prior to breeding. Secondly, they can be used to identify genetic traits that affect your cat’s appearance such as coat color and length.
Finally, they can be used to look at your cat’s ancestry and determine their breed or breeds. Some tests create a wild cat index that tells you how closely your cat is related to wild cats. It can be fascinating to find out your cat’s heritage in this way.
How Does a Cat DNA Test Work?
All of the complicated scientific analysis goes on in the laboratory. All you need to know is how to collect the DNA sample. You will be provided with everything you need to collect your cat’s DNA in a kit. This collects some of the tiny cells that contain the DNA.
There will be a swab that you wipe on the inside of your cat’s cheek. The instructions will tell you when and how to do this. You must not collect the sample right after your cat has eaten as it will cause contamination. It can be a little challenging to use the swab for some cats but if you enlist the help of another human it can usually be achieved quite quickly. It is not painful and does not harm your cat.
Then, you simply pop the swab into the container provided and send it off. The test results will either be available via a website or in writing.
Benefits of Doing a DNA Test on a Cat
There are several benefits of using a cat DNA kit. The health screening will give you information on health risks from a wide range of diseases. This enables you to plan your cat’s health care and will help you decide whether to breed from them or not. Genetic diseases are passed down from parent to kitten and if a parent cat is carrying the gene for a particular disease you may prefer that they did not breed.
Finding out appearance traits is also very useful for breeding purposes. If you know what traits (e.g. coat color or length) your cats carry the genes for, you will have a pretty good idea of what the kittens are going to look like. If you are aiming for a particular look, the test will take the guesswork out of the breeding program.
Finally, some tests will tell you the breed of your cat if you do not already know it. The breed test tells you which breed or breed your cat is. Breed analysis is useful – not just because of curiosity about your cat’s heritage. Certain breed groups often have particular personality traits. For example, the Siamese cat is known for being very friendly but needs constant companionship whilst the Maine Coon likes to play. Once you know this, you can provide your cat with the stimulation they need to keep them happy. Your cat’s breed may also affect your health insurance because some breeds have certain health risks.
Things to Consider When Buying
The best cat DNA tests are clear about what they can and cannot tell you about your kitty. Here are the main things that you should consider before you buy one.
Different Types of Tests
Not all DNA tests are the same! The situation with feline DNA testing is more complex than for dogs. This is because dogs have been actively bred for specific tasks for thousands of years. In contrast, most of the cat breeds we see today and under 100 years old and that is a short space of time in genetic terms. There is not a clear genetic code associated with each breed which makes analysis more complex. Basepaws cat DNA test is one of the few that actually give you ancestry information. Here is a summary of the different types of tests that you can get:
- Analysis of cat breed: looks for genomic regions associated with a particular breed
- Trait analysis: looks for specific regions associated with physical traits such as eye color, folded ears, or coat length
- Health analysis: looks for specific regions associated with inherited diseases
- Wild cat index: gives you an idea of how closely related your kitty is to a wild cat
The cost of these tests is quite variable. Therefore, it is advisable to look closely at what you are getting for your money. In general, the more accurate and comprehensive a test is, the more expensive it will be. If you have a tight budget, it would be best to choose one of the companies that offer a range of cheaper tests that only test for a few characteristics. This will avoid you having to pay for information that you do not need.
Cat’s DNA is present in all cells of their body. To collect a specimen you need to get some of these cells to send to the laboratory. The most common cells to collect are blood cells, fur (hair) cells, or skin from the inside lining of the cheeks (buccal swabs).
The tests featured here require you to collect buccal swabs. You will be provided with everything you need including the swab and full instructions. The basic method is to wipe the swab several times across the internal surface of the cheek. This will not harm your cat in any way but they may not be very impressed with it. It may help if another adult holds your cat still while you collect the swab.
Speed of Results
Some tests are available in as little as three weeks but others can take a couple of months. If speed is an issue for you, contact the test provider and ask what their turn-around times currently are.
Dog vs. Cat DNA Testing
Dog DNA testing has been around for longer than feline testing. In general, dog DNA testing is more sophisticated.
The principles involved in dog and cat tests are the same. However, the cat DNA test options are often more limited. This is because dogs and cats have been domesticated in very different ways. Humans set out to domesticate dogs. They captured wild dogs and purposely bred them to achieve particular traits such as herding ability, bravery, or retrieving ability. For companion dogs, we selected small sizes and friendly nature.
Cats, however, domesticated themselves. Wild cats realized that human settlements were places where they could get food and shelter. Cat breeds have only been around for a hundred years or so and there are not yet any clear genetic markers that are 100% accurate.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The costs of these tests are very variable. At one end of the scale are sophisticated tests that look for multiple traits, breed information and health issues and are highly accurate. These can cost several hundred dollars.
At the other end of the scale and the budget tests that just screen for a few diseases and look for a few traits and these cost under $50.
At the moment there is little data to indicate how accurate these tests are. As time goes on, they will improve and the accuracy will be assessed. However, up until now, very few studies have been carried out. Because cat breeds have only been around for about 100 years there is no clear genetic marker associated with each breed and this makes the tests less accurate.
The DNA analysis for specific diseases is more advanced and is considered accurate however.
You can get a cat tested at any age. The complete DNA profile of your cat is fixed at the moment that they are conceived. It stays the same throughout the cat’s life. Therefore, the test can be carried out at any age.