How does DNA testing for cats work?

How does DNA testing for cats work?
Everything you need to know about cat DNA testing.

As science advances, it allows us to dig much deeper into our history through DNA, which is why these tests have become so popular, but they are not only available for people, but for animals as well.
Although they are relatively new, cat DNA tests can reveal your cat's genetic history, so if you've ever wondered where your big colorful cat came from, with these tests you can find out.
But how does it work? And what are the benefits? Stay tuned and in this post, you will learn all about cat DNA testing.

DNA testing for cats?

When breeding cats, it is necessary to know a little about cat genetics.
It is good to have an understanding of how a trait is passed on and what risks there are with inbreeding, which is, breeding within a small group of individuals.
By learning more about genetics, it is possible to decide if cats are suitable for breeding and to create better conditions for the birth of healthy kittens.
Feline DNA testing analyzes the genetic makeup of your kitten to learn about his ancestry, as well as information about the breed and pedigree of domestic cats or their similarity to feral cats.
Yes, many of these DNA testing kits include information about the amount of feral cat DNA present in your feline. This is not about your cat's ancestry or origins, but about recent natural occurrences.
If, for example, you as a breeder, want to find out the hereditary coat color of your cat, exclude certain hereditary cat diseases, or do a paternity test.
In the case of mongrel cats, it is also useful because each breed has its own typical characteristics and behaviors, and as owners knowing about their character can help you to adapt to their nature.
Determining the genetic profile means determining a set of traits that are characteristic and distinctive for the individual, but also looking into possible hereditary diseases.

Genetics of cat breeding

Each cat nucleus contains 38 chromosomes. This is where all the genetic information, i.e. the cat's genetic makeup (DNA), is located.
These come in pairs, and it is these, alone or in conjunction with other characteristics, that give rise to a certain attribute of the cat. Predominants can be dominant or recessive in their genetic makeup.
A dominant characteristic is one that consistently outnumbers a recessive characteristic. A recessive characteristic must be present in two copies to manifest itself.
The term homozygous refers to the presence of two copies of a gene. The term "heterozygous" refers to the presence of two genes that are not identical.
For example, if a cat has black hair and is homozygous for both chromosomal pairs, the cat will have black hair.
On the other hand, if the cat is heterozygous black, it means that one gene is black and the other is a different color. Only the black color will appear since black is a dominant trait.
Much has been learned about what a cat's genes hide by following a breed over several generations and by DNA research. A cat's DNA, for example, contains a wealth of information about genetic disorders.

Benefits of DNA testing for cats

Prevent possible diseases

By performing genetic tests, it is possible to determine the risk of hereditary diseases caused by mutations in genes.
We can detect such diseases as well as neurological, eye, urological, and blood diseases.
Knowing the risk of the disease in advance will lead to regular check-ups, early detection, and prevention of severity. This is the first step to accurate prevention.

It helps to determine whether a cat is suitable for breeding or not

Since genetic information is passed from parent to offspring half at a time, genetic testing of parents before breeding the next generation is important to prevent hereditary diseases from increasing to future generations.
Such as lymphoma, for example, which is a malignant tumor that is common in cats, but depending on the type of cell from which it originates, anti-cancer drugs are divided into those that work well and those that do not.
Genetic testing reveals the definitive diagnosis and cell type of lymphoma and is a material for determining treatment policies and prognosis.

It allows confirming the identity of the cat

If he is lost or is stolen and found, or in the event that the microchip is defective, the identity of the cat can be proven and a new microchip can be inserted.

"Clear according to parents" examination

In breeds that are loaded with a specific recessive genetic disease, both parents are tested for the presence of this genetic defect.
If both parents are healthy, the offspring will also recover with almost 100% (the probability of a new mutation occurring is a fraction of a percent).
Sometimes, new kitten owners want to demonstrate that the selected kitten really is not at risk for a specific genetic disorder.
This can be detected either by direct testing for the specific genetic disorder or by paternity testing, i.e., the kitten is descended from declared parents who do not suffer from any genetic disease.

Improving his quality of life

Your cat's quality of life could take a totally different course after a cat DNA test.
Once you have a better understanding of his history, you will be able to improve some care or reinforce others that seemed unimportant.
For example, if he is prone to obesity, you will be able to attack the disease in time with the nutritious food and balanced amounts that your pet really needs.

Provides unknown information about your cat

Through the results, you will obtain the following information:

  • Breed analysis: analyzes the genetic similarity between your cat's chromosomal pairs with other breeds.
  • Wild cat index: compare your cat's genome with that of several wild cats.
  • Cat breeds: reveals information about the other breeds that make up your cat's ancestry and their characteristics.
  • Health screenings: all your cat's health issues and possible illnesses.

How do cat DNA tests work?

Currently, there are several DNA tests that show which variant of a genetic predisposition a dog or cat carries.
Feline DNA can be extracted with a saliva sample, just by rubbing a swab on your cheek or a blood sample.
The skin cells from the inside of the mouth are collected by the cheek swab, and the white blood cells in the blood sample contain DNA in their nuclei.
A DNA profile can also be determined from blood samples. The determination of paternity is the same as in humans. The DNA of the offspring and both or one of the parents are searched for common characteristics.
Once the scientists have this sample they can start analyzing the results and get a full report on your cat. The results are sent to a specialized genetic disease testing agency and genetic testing is performed.
The processing is done with an automated analysis system, gene sequences are decoded and genetic diseases are determined.

How to test your cat's DNA?

  • Order a DNA kit.
  • Using the swab included in the package, swab your cat's cheek.
  • The test must be sent to the company that will be in charge of DNA testing.
  • Wait for the result.

The company will send the owner a detailed report after the test. This also allows the DNA testing company to develop its own database and provide the information of the owners and their respective veterinarians.

What types of cat DNA tests are there?

There are different DNA tests that you can do on your cat, you can even choose some that focus more on your cat's family genes or health.
Different companies offer DNA tests for cats, and you can even do this test yourself at home without any complications or pain.
To choose the best DNA test kit, it should have the following features:

  • Testing for breed.
  • Ancestry testing.
  • Tests for physical and personality traits.
  • Tests for hereditary diseases.

Basepaws DNA Test

This is considered the best DNA test for cats.
If you want to solve this mystery at home, the Basepaws Breed + Health DNA test can be found on their official website or on Amazon where it has a 4.5-star rating.
With this test, you can learn about your cat's breed, health, and wild ancestors.
It demonstrates how genetically similar your cat is to 21 of its registered breeds and provides 17 tests for genetic diseases, with a total of 70 health indicators.
It's tested on thousands of cats, it's easy to use and you'll get your results in 6 to 4 weeks, plus you have access to a community where you can share your results with other cat owners.

Orivet DNA tests

This is another home kit you can try, but unlike Basepaws, this test focuses only on their health to detect genetic diseases based on their age, weight, sex, and breed, so it is designed for purebred cats.

Optimum selection

This is another test that evaluates the cat's genetics but also does not provide breed history. It is therefore ideal for purebred or mixed breed cats.
It focuses on detecting genetic diseases and physical traits, such as coat colors and coat types as well as data on your cat's physical traits and blood type.

CatDNATest is an affordable and effective test that provides an overview of your cat's genetic characteristics and health problems.
Their basic DNA test is inexpensive and will provide information about your cat's physical traits, lineage, health, and more.


This company also performs genetic testing for individuals.
The genetic test includes information on 40 inherited diseases. However, unlike most other tests, they do not test specifically for them. Instead, they reflect the likelihood of the disease based on the breed evaluation.
It can also report on physical traits such as body type, coat color, and more.

If you don't know which test you need, you can contact the company before buying the kit and ask about the results they offer, their database, their prices, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions about cat DNA testing

Should I test my cat's DNA?

Absolutely! It is not only fascinating to know more about your cat but also very useful to know more about his daily life, his care, to know more about his personality, and most importantly to know if he may suffer from any hereditary disease.
Although being prone to a disease does not mean that your cat is sick. It just gives you a clue about what to look for and avoid.
In fact, knowing that your cat doesn't have any risky diseases is often a relief that many pet owners don't expect to have, while the report on their breed can be incredibly interesting.

At what age can I test my cat?

There is no minimum age, as this information will not change, the tests can be done at any age.
The only thing that is important is that for some tests, in the case of small cats, it is best to take the sample. The period of time between nursing and sampling is a minimum of 45 minutes to 1 hour.

What is the accuracy of cat DNA testing?

Many of the cat DNA tests are still in the developmental stage. So you still need to expand your database to be able to better analyze the results.
So it does not have 100% accuracy in all tests, however, it can show you your cat's genetic history, results about possible diseases and information, its breed, and all the above mentioned with high accuracy.
Final thoughts
DNA test results also provide a sense of relief from uncertainties about your cat's origins and inform owners to help properly manage their pets' health care.
DNA tests are an important resource in the field of veterinary medicine. DNA testing of cats cannot yet provide 100 percent accuracy for genetic traits and inherited diseases, but it is improving.
It is an important process to get to know your friendly feline companion better and keep him healthy.