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Discover Your Cat's Origins! DNA Testing For Felines

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Breed identity generally isn't as important to cat parents as it is to dog owners -- but if you're curious about your feline's origins, the answer is now in reach! Leslie Lyons, the head of Lyons’ Feline Genetics Laboratory at the University of California has developed a cat genome test that will determine whether your kitty's parents or grandparents belong to one of 29 “major fancy breeds."
The $118 test will amount to a drop in the bucket if you discover you picked up an Abyssinian at your local shelter. All it takes to get the process started is a cheek swab sample using the cytological brushes you receive with an online order. Results that boast 90% accuracy will be available within 10 to 15 days.
How exactly does the test work? According to Wired.com,
  • 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 (that Lyons collected while attending cat shows across the globe) 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).
  • After determining its geographical origin, the lab then compares the DNA markers that determine what the cat looks like to 29 breeds to determine if there are any similarities.
  • The 29 common breeds chosen were derived from US “cat fancy registries.” The heritage of cats outside of the U.S. are more difficult to trace as breeding strategies and their history differ across the globe.
However, the lab warns that the tests are not successful in every case. On its website the lab states: “A true random bred cat will not match to specific breeds and low match probabilities will not be reported. If your cat is a true direct cross with a breed, having a true breed parent or grandparent, this test can detect this breed genetic contribution in your cat.”

Related: "Who's Your Daddy": DNA testing for your dog
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