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What Feline DNA Profiling Offers for Your Cattery
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What Feline DNA Profiling Offers for Your Cattery

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Wisdom Breeder is excited to offer DNA profiling as a single service or as a bundle with all new MyCatDNA and Optimal Selection Feline kits starting in June 2024! Learn what feline DNA profiling is and how to best use this valuable tool in your cattery. 

What is DNA profiling? 

A cat’s DNA, like their nose print or a human fingerprint, is unique to that individual. DNA profiling, sometimes called DNA fingerprinting or genetic ID, allows breeders and registries to permanently identify a cat using their unique DNA pattern. Unlike microchips or tattoos, DNA profiling is a non-invasive method of identifying a cat, and also allows for confirmation of pedigree by parentage analysis. Until now, profiling for cats has been of limited availability, although the technology has been around for many decades in humans and other domestic species. Cats are now poised to enjoy profiling and parentage using the newest in technology.  

The International Society for Animal Genetics (ISAG) is the governing body that ensures the standardisation of the DNA markers used for profiling in many domesticated animal species, including dogs and cats. Until 2019, the ISAG  feline profiling panel used what are called microsatellite markers, or “STRs.” However, in the last 10 years, SNP marker panel testing has been widely adopted for its accuracy and efficiency for a number of purposes in companion animals genetics, supplanting STRs for most purposes, and is the basis of all Wisdom Breeder products.  

As a member of ISAG, Wisdom is proud to have participated in the development and approval of the first ever SNP-based profiling panel for cats. This process involved more than 3700 cat DNA samples of 41 breeds and non-pedigreed cats, to select markers across all chromosomes that will consistently and accurately identify any tested cat, ensuring a robust testing panel for use by all breeders and registries. The chosen panel contains 101 markers, with markers intentionally chosen for their location, testing performance, and their high rate of variability between individuals. 

When is profiling helpful? 

DNA profiling is incredibly useful in a number of situations a breeder might encounter, and it could be argued that all cats should have a DNA profile on hand. However, there are certain situations in which DNA profiling is more frequently needed or required: 

  • Parentage testing/pedigree confirmation 
  • Dual sire litters 
  • Semen collected for fresh use or storage 
  • Frequently used sires (definitions vary) 
  • Imported/exported cats 
  • Legal disputes 
  • Prior to breeding or registration 
  • Demonstrating ownership 

How it works 

A number of samples types can be submitted for DNA profiling, but the most common is a cheek swab or blood sample, the same sample types used for Optimal Selection or MyCatDNA testing. Semen and solid tissue samples can also be submitted, but require special handling and are only recommended in special situations. If DNA profiling is required by your registry, please check their sampling requirements in advance (e.g. vet verification documentation) to ensure your cat’s results will be accepted.  

Once a cat’s sample is received,  it is analysed against the most advanced published panel, ISAG 2020, with Wisdom’s top-of-class genotyping accuracy rank. A unique profile consisting of a 98 autosomal markers, 2 X-linked markers, and 1 sex-identifying marker (101 markers total), is archived in the Wisdom database for that cat, ready to be used as needed. Each cat’s profile is so unique, they can be differentiated from any other cat in Wisdom's database.  

If parentage analysis is required, both the dam and potential sire(s) must be tested using the same panel and technology to proceed. An official Wisdom DNA Profiling certificate is provided in the cat’s account on completion. Wisdom does not share DNA profiles with anyone but the sample owner unless requested except if the sample is submitted through a cat association testing program and profiling and sharing permissions have been elected. 

How to use profiling in your breeding program 

DNA profiling allows a breeder to be ready for a variety of kitten buyers and circumstances, whether that’s a request for export, stud service, adoption into a pet home, or challenge to their breeding record. It forms the basis for scientifically-validated pedigrees through parentage testing. If a dual sire litter is suspected, breeders can prove beyond a doubt who the father of each kitten is, with no guessing based on temperament or traits. Because DNA profiling is unique to one cat only, with 99.9% accuracy, it’s a wonderful gift to kitten buyers should their cat ever become lost or stolen and require proof of ownership, and fellow breeders appreciate the peace of mind of a permanent, verifiable ID when purchasing new breeding stock for their program. DNA profiling for pedigreed cats allows breeders to rapidly prove the accuracy of their records if needed. In short, profiling builds trust. 

What DNA profiling doesn’t do 

DNA profiling, although amazing, doesn’t tell you everything you might want to know about your cat. It does not determine breed, it doesn’t determine if your cat is pedigreed, and it does not determine parentage without additional analysis and the testing of sire, dam, and offspring. Profiling also doesn’t screen for traits, disorders, blood type compatibility or genetic diversity. If you are planning to breed your cat, please ensure you also test your cat with one of Wisdom’s breeder products for best health.