Genetic DNA tests in cats - why are they important?
There are various commercial genetic tests and test kits available on the market, but we urge you to consider the need for such tests, as most often they are not assessed and sufficiently proven, leading to hasty or incorrect conclusions about the animal. We recommend that you seek specialist advice on the need for genetic testing.
If you do not know what genetic tests your pet needs, we recommend that you consult a veterinarian or the Latvian Felinology Association (WCF), or a breed club if you plan to use the animal for breeding.
Cats were domesticated in the Middle East about 9,000 to 10,000 years ago. Through trade routes between ancient civilisations, cats spread all over the world. Despite their rapid spread, cats are remarkably similar in shape and function to their wild ancestors (Felis silvestris subspp.).
A small subset of domestic cats is purebred. They are cats that are intensively artificially bred to maintain or alter their characteristics (most often visual traits). During breeding, these traits are passed on to all offspring over several generations, as both copies of DNA contain this trait (are homozygous). Populations that lack genetic diversity can often have significant problems and are at greater risk of developing diseases or other changes in the breed’s appearance, as some undesirable genetic changes may occur along with the desired traits. In a cat, the disease-causing mutation can be in one copy of the DNA, which means that it will be recessive and not manifest, but can be passed on to any offspring. When two such cats are mated, 1/4 of the offspring will develop the disease due to this gene mutation. By closely related mating (in small populations), these mutations are propagated, and the breed develops not only the desirable traits but also unwanted or harmful ones (inbreeding). It should be noted that there are also diseases and other traits that can only manifest at a later or adult age, and genetic DNA testing is useful in such cases.
The colour of a kitten is determined only by its parents, but the kitten will not always inherit all the features of the fur that are manifested in the parents. Male cats always inherit both fur colour genes from their mother, so most often they will be either the same or a slightly lighter colour. Female cats receive colour genes from both parents.
Dominant fur features - black, white, red, and other colours, a two-tone coat, shaded or smoky fur, are mandatory for both parents to pass it on to a kitten. If both parents have recessive features – a cream colour, bluish coat, etc. they will never have a kitten in one of the dominant colours.
Some traits require the expression of genes in both parents - both kitten’s parents must have the gene, even if it is not visually manifested. For example, two-tone or spotted fur. Conversely, other signs may manifest if they are present in only one of the parents, such as a light/white coat on the abdomen or a smoky/shaded coat. White cats can also pass another colour on to their offspring that is hidden or not visible in them. The hidden colour can be determined based on the cat’s pedigree.
The challenge for cat breeders is to limit the variability of the genes that make a breed different without losing the diversity that is necessary for good health and long-term survival. Genetic DNA testing for cats is a very useful and accurate tool in this challenge.
SIA GenEra offers DNA tests for cats both for phenotyping, which can predict the potential phenotype of the offspring, and genetic disease mutation tests, which can help avoid diseases.
Important to know!
All available veterinary DNA tests are performed remotely - animals are not admitted to the laboratory!