June 13, 2018

Expansive DNA Testing Now Available for Cats

Each cat has its own unique genetic makeup, and with the help of My Cat DNA—a feline genetic testing service—breeders, owners, and veterinarians are now able to make more informed decisions about feline health.
By Kerry Lengyel
With the recent acquisition of OptiGen, LLC, a New York-based DNA diagnostics company specializing in canine eye disorders, Wisdom Health, a division of Mars Petcare, was able to vastly expand its canine genetic testing service, My Dog DNA. And now, the company has expanded even further, adding the feline population into the mix.

My Cat DNA, also known as Optimal Selection Feline, helps users better understand their cat’s unique genetic makeup, including blood type, coat color and length, body type, and inherited feline diseases. The company believes this service will help breeders make more informed breeding decisions, improving the health of cats everywhere.

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“Combined with selection for other good qualities—such as temperament and healthy queening—and implementing outcrossing programs when possible, the My Cat DNA test can support breeding decisions effectively,” Leslie Lyons, PhD, professor of comparative medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine, said, “especially when a broad base of breeders participate.”

It’s not only breeders who benefit. The expanded service will also provide pet owners and veterinarians with valuable insight. Genetic testing such as this can identify cats at risk for developing genetic conditions that would otherwise go undiagnosed, thus allowing for earlier intervention.

In addition to garnering information about more than 20 traits, the My Cat DNA analysis is able to identify more than 40 genetic mutations causing inherited feline diseases.

The test provides information on genetic diversity in three ways:
  • Diversity of the individual cat tested.
  • Diversity of the overall breed population.
  • Diversity of the overall breed population compared to the diversity of other related breed populations.

Wisdom Health’s canine genetic test has already enabled the creation of My Breed Data, an online repository about inherited genetic disorders enabling veterinary practitioners to make more informed decisions for their patients. This new expansion will only improve that service, allowing practitioners to provide more predictive, preventive, and personalized healthcare to their feline patients.

“New insights based on genetics, such as mutations linked to health conditions and traits, can transform the lives of cats and their offspring,” Dr. Lyons said.

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