By Angela Hughes, DVM, PhD, Veterinary Genetics Research Manager at Wisdom Health (formerly Mars Veterinary)
Whether tabby or calico, Siamese or Russian Blue, every cat owner loves their cat for their individual characteristics and personality. Now, cat owners and breeders have a new tool at hand to better understand their cat’s unique health and well-being, down to the DNA.
Wisdom Health, a division of Mars Petcare, has expanded its highly-developed animal DNA testing services to cats. Now available globally, the MyCatDNA™ test, also known as the Optimal Selection™ Feline test in North America, helps breeders produce cats that will go on to live their healthiest lives possible.
Breeders have always strived to find the perfect mate for their cats, in order to increase their breed’s genetic diversity, keep unwanted diseases out of the future generations and maintain valuable traits associated with individual breeds. Rather than selecting mates based only on general assessments of breed standard and health, MyCatDNA analysis helps breeders make more informed breeding decisions using their cat’s unique genetic makeup.
“New insights based on genetics, such as mutations linked to health conditions and traits, can transform the lives of cats and their offspring,” said Leslie Lyons PhD, the Gilbreath-McLorn Endowed Professor of Comparative Medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri – Columbia. “Having these discoveries and many other tools readily available to cat owners and breeders on a global scale can only improve the health care of cats and our breeding decisions. Combined with selection for other good qualities, such as temperament and healthy queening, and implementing outcrossing programs when possible, the MyCatDNA test can support breeding decisions effectively, especially when a broad base of breeders participate.”
Through a simple process, the MyCatDNA test develops a comprehensive view of each cat’s unique genome, including important inherited characteristics. The MyCatDNA analysis is able to identify more than 40 genetic mutations causing inherited feline diseases, as well as testing for traits such as blood type, coat color and length, and body type. Owners can access extensive health profiles for their cats through an easy-to-use online portal, which also serves as a service to help breeders identify potential breeding mates for ideal compatibility.
The MyCatDNA test is bringing more predictive, preventive and personalized healthcare to our cats – and their offspring. By giving owners and breeders deeper insights into their feline friend’s health and well-being, Mars Petcare is helping build A Better World for Pets™.
For more information about feline genetics or to find out how you can test the DNA of your own cat, visit www.mycatdna.com or www.optimal-selection.com.