DNA testing is something that has become increasingly popular since it was first used to solve a criminal case back in the 1980s.
It is debated whether or not DNA was first discovered in the 1950s or 1860s, but either way, the scientists never could have guessed that we’d be using it to complete research into our pets.
As home DNA test kits have grown in popularity to analyze our human DNA, companies have also started to produce home DNA kits that can be used to find out more about our furbabies.
Traditionally, these were mainly designed for dogs, however, it is becoming increasingly common for companies to also produce feline DNA test kits.
Most buying guides are put together to help you narrow down your options in an oversaturated market, but this guide is an objection to the rule. As DNA Tests for Cats can be difficult to find, we’ve put together this guide to the best ones that are available.
We’ve also included an additional buyer’s guide full of information about DNA tests, and an FAQ section to ensure you make a fully informed decision when you purchase a DNA test kit for your fur-baby.
In a hurry?
If you want to purchase a DNA test for your cat and don’t know which is best for you, we’d recommend buying the BasePaws Cat DNA test kit.
It is full of wonderful features that are supported by excellent science and research to ensure that your cat’s DNA results are accurate, including:
- Choose between testing for your cat’s breed or testing for your cat’s breed and health based on your preference. This makes it a great option if you don’t want to test your cat’s health as most companies only sell one test (which covers breed and health simultaneously).
- It compares 21 individual breeds, 4 main breed groups, a chromosome map, and a wild cat index to give you as much information about your cat as possible.
- It tests for 39 gene mutations which correspond with 17 health conditions and diseases in felines, using the same technology as human ‘health and wellbeing’ DNA kits.
- It is simple to complete, all you need to do is swab the inside of your cat’s mouth for 5 seconds and send it off to get your results.
OUR TOP PICK
Our favorite DNA test for cats is the BasePaws cat DNA test kit. Basepaws not only produce testing kits for cats but also for dogs and they have a large database to compare your cat’s results against.
The test is easy to complete, all you need to do is swab around the inside of your cat’s mouth for approximately 5 seconds before bagging it up and sending it back to the test center. Your Cat’s DNA will then be analyzed and tested for their breed and potential health conditions.
On their database, BasePaws compare your cat’s DNA against 4 main breed groups, 21 individual breeds, a chromosome map, and the wild cat index to provide lots of information about your cat’s heritage.
They also test against 39 gene mutations which have been connected with 17 feline health conditions and diseases. This information is then gathered, and a 35+ page report is constructed for you, you will usually receive the results within 4-6 weeks of sending the sample.
With all this in mind, there’s no doubt that this is one of the best options available.
- Choose between health and breed or just breed test
- Compares 4 main breed groups, 21 individual breeds, chromosome map, and wild cat index
- Screens for feline diseases looking at 39 gene mutations and 17 conditions and diseases
- Easy to complete - swab your cat’s mouth for 5 seconds
- Test results within 4-6 weeks
- Detailed results, including a 35+ page detailed report
- No notable drawbacks
Another excellent option is the Optimal Selection DNA test kit which is powered by Wisdom Panel (a leading DNA company in canines).
This test is suitable for pedigrees and mixed breeds alike, making it a popular choice among breeders who want to ensure that their cats can produce healthy offspring.
This test includes both breed and health tests and compares your cat’s DNA against the company’s vast database. They test your cat’s DNA against 40+ health tests and are also able to determine blood type and genetic diversity in your cat.
Additionally, it tests against 20+ common traits in cats, including coat color and morphology to give you more information about your furbaby.
Optimal Selection has a continually growing database so you might observe changes in your results over time, however, you should receive results in 2-3 weeks.
With that in mind, there’s no doubt that this is one of the best test kits available.
- Suitable for pedigrees and mixed breeds
- Includes 40+ health tests, identifies blood type, traits, and genetic diversity
- Tests for 20+ traits including coat color and morphology
- Results in 2-3 weeks
- Continually updated research based on new discoveries
- Easy access to results online
- No notable drawbacks
You should also consider the My Cat DNA Test Kit.
We will keep the review on this product very brief as it is also powered by Wisdom Panel, and is almost identical to the Optimal Selection product that we have just looked at.
This test is extremely simple to use, all you need to do is swab your cat’s mouth, and it will provide you with multiple results about diseases, traits, and health conditions in your cat.
This product is almost identical to Optimal Selection, however, prices do vary between the two products so check out both before you make a purchase.
- A comprehensive test for breeders
- Simple and easy to use
- Screens for multiple diseases and traits
- Looks at 40+ genetic diseases reported in terms of known relevance
- Looks at 20+ traits for information about your cat
- Evaluates genetic diversity
- Extremely similar to the Optimal Selection DNA kit.
We also love the DNA kit by catDNAtest.org. This company is much lesser-known, but they are an excellent option if you want to have tests completed that are specific for your cat.
This company is specifically designed for feline DNA testing making it unique from the other products we have looked at so far.
You can tailor this test specifically to your cat, choosing whether you want to test for parentage, health or traits, or all three.
Additionally, you can add on health tests that are specific for your cat’s breed which a lot of companies do not offer.
This test requires a simple swab of your cat’s cheek and their DNA sample is tested against the company’s continuously growing database.
With that in mind, this is an excellent option if you want a test that is specific for your cat.
- The company is designed specifically for feline DNA testing
- Screens for parentage, health, and traits
- You can additionally add on health tests for common health conditions in some cat breeds
- Simply swab the inside of your cat’s cheek
- Produces tests for worldwide
- Continually growing and improving database
- Lesser-known company
Finally, you should consider the Orivet Home DNA kit. This test is highly scientific, and a lot less commercial than other types that we have looked at.
Due to this, we would only really recommend this company if you have existing scientific knowledge that could help you understand the results.
It is an extremely targeted approach of DNA testing that produces general tests as well as tests for specific breeds of cats.
It includes a DNA profiling kit that identifies 101 nucleotide bases and also trait tests against all known phenotypes.
On top of this, the company also offers genetic screening which allows you to test against both common and uncommon health conditions.
This test is specifically designed for breeders and can be customized to find out all the information you need to know about your cat against their breed.
It is a test that is better suited to breeders rather than those who are just curious about their cat’s history, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is one of the best DNA kits available for cats.
- Produces general tests as well as tests for specific breeds of cat
- DNA profiling kit identifies 101 single nucleotide bases
- An extremely targeted approach to DNA testing
- Great value - designed for breeders to reproduce quality offspring
- Trait testing allows you to screen for all known phenotypes
- Genetic screening for common and uncommon illnesses and traits
- Lots of different options can be confusing
Best DNA Test for Cat Buying Guide
If you want to buy a DNA test for your cat but don’t know where to start, you are in the right place.
We’ve already told you about some of the best DNA tests for cats currently available on the market, but if you want to find out more about these tests in general we’ve put together this buyer’s guide for you.
Dog DNA vs Cat DNA
If you are looking to buy a cat DNA kit, and have done any research into trying to find the ideal product, you will know how few and far between cat DNA kits are.
There appears to be a lot more interest in researching dog DNA than cat DNA, and that is evident in the funding for Cat DNA research, and the cat DNA tests that are available. That being said, there are quite a few different cat DNA kits available, they are just more difficult to find.
You might be misled into believing that cat DNA and dog DNA kits can be used interchangeably, especially as many search devices will show you dog DNA kits when you search for cat kits.
However, you cannot use a dog DNA kit to test your cat’s DNA. While we may think our fur babies are very similar, their DNA is very different from one another. They come from different species, and dogs have significantly more chromosomes in their genetic build than cats do.
So while the range of products is much more limited, it is very important that you only complete the DNA kit that is designed for the species of animal you are testing.
So if you want to test your dog’s DNA you should buy a dog DNA kit, likewise, you should buy a cat DNA kit if you want to test your cat’s DNA.
Why would I buy a Cat DNA kit?
You might be reading this and asking yourself, ‘why do cat DNA Kits exist?’. Understandably, a lot of people who don’t like cats will be asking this, but any cat owner will know why cat DNA kits are such an attractive purchase.
Unless you bought your cat from a breeder with proof of their pedigree breed, your cat’s history is likely a mystery. Even more so if your cat is from a rescue center or if you took them in as a stray off the street.
If your cat is a mixed breed, it might seem like an exciting opportunity to identify the different breeds that make up your cat’s genetics. While DNA testing kits cannot be used to fully determine a pedigree breed within your cat, they can be used to look at the possible different breeds that your cat has roots in.
As well as looking at possible breeds, the DNA kit can also be used to determine potential health risks your cat is facing based on their genetics.
As well as these two basic tests, a cat DNA test can also be used to determine the place that your fur-baby comes from, and also the wild cat that your cat is closest to in terms of their genetics.
So in short, you might choose to complete a cat DNA kit if you want to find out more about your cat’s breed, or if you want to identify potential health conditions your cat might develop throughout their life before they happen.
DNA Testing Process
It might come as a surprise to some people that cats have DNA. It is a common misconception that only human beings have DNA, but every living organism actually has DNA. In fact, a cat’s genetic makeup is fairly similar to ours as human beings.
Humans have 46 chromosomes, and cats have 38 which are divided into pairs. Just like human beings, a cat’s genetic DNA sequence is unique to them.
However, unlike human beings, cats have incredibly similar DNA to one another and it is not uncommon for two cats to share up to 99% of the same DNA as each other. This is how DNA testing can be used to identify your cat’s breed and health conditions, among other things such as traits and behaviors.
So how do cat DNA tests work? They actually work very similarly to human DNA tests. Just as with human beings, a cat’s DNA can be found in pretty much every cell that makes their genetic build and the most common way to harvest DNA from your cat is via their saliva.
Due to this, the majority of cat DNA kits require you to rub a swab on the inside of your cat’s cheek before placing the swab in an airtight container and sending it back to the test center.
The majority of testing kits will include return delivery so you will incur any further cost to submit the sample. Once the test center receives your cat’s sample, it can take anywhere between 2-8 weeks, or even more, for the sample to be analyzed and the results to be produced.
Most DNA tests will allow you to view the results online and will provide a long description so that you can fully understand the results.
Identifying Cat Breed
So what are the main functions of a cat DNA kit? The most popular reason that people will complete a cat DNA kit is to determine their cat’s breed.
We’ve already touched on this briefly, but let’s take a better look at how a DNA kit can be used to help identify your cat’s breed. Before we go any further, it is worth noting that a DNA kit cannot 100% determine a breed and can therefore not be used to register your cat as a pedigree.
If your cat is a domestic short hair, you might believe this to be their breed. However, domestic short hair isn’t necessarily a breed, instead, it is a name used to cover a variety of different types of cats that do not subscribe to one specific breed.
While their name is used as if it is a breed, domestic shorthairs differ greatly from cat to cat. Their eye color can vary from blue to green to gold to hazel, and their fur color and markings can vary just as widely.
They have a wide variety of lifespans, and in most cases, their only similarity is that they have short fur that requires minimal effort from their owners. It is due to cats such as the domestic shorthair, that cat DNA tests are so popular.
Any domestic shorthair will have its ancestry in pedigree breeds, so completing a DNA kit will allow the cat’s owner to find out more about their cat’s history and what led to them looking the way that they do.
Identify Cat Health Conditions
Finally, let’s look at the other main reason that some people may choose to complete a DNA kit for their furbaby. While DNA testing to identify breed history was the original reason to buy cat DNA kits, in recent years it has also become popular to DNA test your cat to identify potential health risks.
Just like with human ‘health and wellbeing’ DNA kits, scientists have been able to identify common illnesses and health conditions that plague certain breeds of cats. By completing a DNA kit, your cat’s breed identity can be identified, and also any potential health risks that might come along with your cat being that breed.
Since testing for potential health conditions has been introduced into cat DNA kits, it has developed greatly. It is now possible to test for over 39 gene mutations that have been connected with more than 17 feline diseases and health conditions.
It is the opinion of some scientists that there are 250+ health diseases and conditions that are hereditary in cats. You may expect your mixed breed to be more at risk of these health conditions, partly because of the high cost of pedigrees, but it is much more common for these conditions to be passed down through purebreds.
A mixed breed is less at risk of common health conditions of certain breeds, as the percentage of their genetics that is from that breed is significantly less. This is why DNA kits for health purposes are a very common purchase for pedigree cat owners as they can be a great way to identify and treat potential health conditions before your cat even develops symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Cat DNA tests accurate?
No DNA test is completely 100% accurate. Any scientific test will have a margin of error, and DNA testing is no different.
However, that does not mean that cat DNA tests are inaccurate.
In fact, thanks to recent development and research into the history of cats, cat DNA tests are often more accurate than human DNA tests.
Especially when they are DNA tests that are completing research into the health of your cat.
What is the rarest cat color?
While cats seemingly come in a variety of different colors, there are some colors and markings which are quite rare.
The color of a cat’s fur is determined by a recessive allele in the gene that determines the color of their fur.
It might come as a surprise to some people that the rarest color of cat fur has been reported as chocolate brown.
What is the most common breed of cat?
As you have probably guessed from the contents of this article, the most common breed of cat is a domestic shorthair.
The domestic shorthair ‘breed’ accounts for between 90 and 95% of domestic cats here in the United States, easily making them the most popular breed of cat available.