DNA Test for cats?

Antonio65

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Hi all, I would like to know if there are DNA tests for cats, a kind of test that is able to say if two cats are somehow related. On the internet I only find tests for genetic diseases or similar things.

A bit of background info.
I tend a feral cat colony of about 20 cats. They are nearly all related, like mothers, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. It's easy to see traits of certain breeds in them, many have cream spots on their coat, they have blue eyes and/or are cross-eyed. Somewhere in their genetics they have noble ancestors. Two cats have just recently joined the colony, and they are Maine Coon, or half this breed.

About three months ago I spotted another cat colony 2 km south from my original one, they were 13 cats. I rescued 11 of them, five have been adopted out due to their sweet character. Well, among this 11 rescued cats, a couple of them look very like two cats in my colony, to the point that for a moment I thought they were the same cats. I know that many cats look alike, but these two are rather peculiar, and seeing other two very similar cats is just curious.

So, my question is, is there a test to see if two cats are related, if they have a close relative in common? Like the test to see if two persons are family related (siblings, father-son).
I suspect that these cats have a mom, or a grandmother in common. I could ask the vet, but I would like to ask them for something certain, rather than being looked at like an extra-terrestrial.
Thanks!
 

lutece

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What exactly are you trying to find out with DNA testing?

There are DNA parentage tests for cats, which are used in cases where (for example) more than one male cat might have been the father of a litter. Here is a link to the parentage test done by UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Lab:
I don't know of a DNA test that is designed to pick up more distant relationships, such as cousins. If you want to use genetic testing to help make a guess at relationships between cats, you could write to UC Davis and ask them what they suggest.

If, on the other hand, you are talking about a breed ancestry test, here is a recent post with additional information on commercial ancestry tests available for cats: Help! What breed do you think my kitty is
 
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Antonio65

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Well, what I would like to find is distant relationship. I know who the mother of a kitty is, but I would like to understand if another cat, younger or older, is related to the other cat. Just to understand whether these two colonies have something in common.
 

StefanZ

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Yes. Also, the test although not very costly, arent for free. So its another consideration, is the knowledge that important for you to know, you are willing to pay money for it?

But please do as Lutece suggests: do contact the UC Davies, per mail or phone, and do ask what can be done. They are the specialists, and they have the best reputation of all the commercial testers. Especielly as they are backed up by this veterinarian university.
 
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Antonio65

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Yes. Also, the test although not very costly, arent for free. So its another consideration, is the knowledge that important for you to know, you are willing to pay money for it?
Well, the answer might be "yes, it is" and "I am willing to pay", but of course it depends on how much the test costs. There's a limit to my curiosity :lol:

But please do as Lutece suggests: do contact the UC Davies, per mail or phone, and do ask what can be done. They are the specialists, and they have the best reputation of all the commercial testers. Especielly as they are backed up by this veterinarian university.
I do not live in the US, would this be a problem? I mean, if they give me a positive answer, would I be able to access them from another continent? I guess I should go through my vets, and maybe UC Davis might not serve this part of the world. Moreover, the time needed to send/receive the sample (weeks) could spoil it and make it unusable for the test.
 

lutece

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I do not live in the US, would this be a problem? I mean, if they give me a positive answer, would I be able to access them from another continent? I guess I should go through my vets, and maybe UC Davis might not serve this part of the world. Moreover, the time needed to send/receive the sample (weeks) could spoil it and make it unusable for the test.
Most UC Davis genetic tests for cats are done using regular cotton swabs. You can send the swabs in the regular mail from anywhere in the world. DNA samples don't spoil during the time they are in the mail... in fact you can take DNA samples with cotton swabs and save them for years.
 
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Antonio65

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Most UC Davis genetic tests for cats are done using regular cotton swabs. You can send the swabs in the regular mail from anywhere in the world. DNA samples don't spoil during the time they are in the mail... in fact you can take DNA samples with cotton swabs and save them for years.
Alright, it is worth sending them an email and see what they propose.
Meanwhile I've also found a website for a lab in France that does lots of genetic tests. Among them there is a parentage test, but as the word say, I think it's just to make sure that a certain cat is a "parent" to another cat, not other relationships are listed. For just €40, which seems too little, in my opinion.
Thanks!
 

lutece

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The reason that these labs only offer parentage testing is that apart from parent and child relationships, it's not really possible to determine exactly what relationship there is between two individuals. A child almost always inherits one chromosome in each pair from each parent... but with other relationships such as siblings, uncle / aunt and niece / nephew, grandparents / grandchildren, etc., it can be extremely variable how much DNA the individuals will share. (If you want me to explain why this is in more detail, let me know.)

What you may be able to determine, however, is a rough idea of whether the cats in your populations are related, and which individuals are more closely related than others. For example if you run genetic profile tests like these:
And then plug in the results to this diversity coefficient calculator:
it wouldn't tell you exactly how the cats are related, but it might give you an idea of which individuals are more related than others.

There definitely are European labs that offer parentage testing and DNA profile tests (like Genomia, above). The main reason I suggested UC Davis is that I have personal experience with them, and I've also found them to be responsive when asking general questions related to a research project like yours.
 
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Antonio65

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There definitely are European labs that offer parentage testing and DNA profile tests (like Genomia, above). The main reason I suggested UC Davis is that I have personal experience with them, and I've also found them to be responsive when asking general questions related to a research project like yours.
What you wrote is all so interesting, thanks a lot.
I hope you didn't take offence at my words, it wasn't a criticism, I just wanted to sahre the news that I had found a different website :)

Antagene - Tests ADN chien et chat
 

lutece

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Yes, Antagene is a lab that a lot of French breeders use, another good one is Laboklin / Labogen, and there are others. You can try writing to any or all of them and see what they suggest for your research project. Basically what you want is something like the diversity coefficient mentioned on the Genomia site, to make an estimate of how closely individuals in your two colonies are related.
 
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