Cat DNA Tests: Everything You Need To Know

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8 min read
8 min read

Updated - Oct 13th, 2022

With advances in science, we’ve grown more and more curious about our ancestry and our DNA – this is why services like 23andMe and AncestryDNA have become so popular. And for cat owners, this curiosity extends to our furry friends: Where does my big orange tabby cat come from?

Although cat DNA tests are fairly new to the market, even more so than dog DNA tests, there are products available that may be able to offer some insight into the genetic history of our favorite felines.

Read on for more information about the best cat DNA tests, how these tests work, and what they may (or may not) be able to tell you about your cat.

Disclaimer: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. 

The best cat DNA tests

Truth be told, there are only a few companies that offer at-home cat DNA tests to consumers. By far, the most well-known is Basepaws, which allows you to choose from two different test options – a breed and health DNA test and a whole genome sequencing test.

Other options include Orivet, which is primarily health-focused, and Optimal Selection by Wisdom Panel, which is designed for breeders.

Here’s what you need to know about these top three cat DNA tests:

#1 Ranked: Basepaws

The Basepaws cat DNA test compares your cat’s DNA sequence to sequences from other Basepaws cats and cats within the larger scientific community. From this testing, you can learn about your cat’s breed and breed group connections, health markers, and even how genetically similar he is to different wild cats.

Basepaws was founded in 2018 by Anna Skay – and in 2019, the company was featured on the ABC show Shark Tank, where Skay accepted an investment offer. Since then, the company has grown exponentially. Currently, Basepaws participates in numerous research studies promoting feline health and wellness, and their genetic tests are highly rated on Amazon.

Basepaws offers two cat DNA test options: the Breed + Health DNA test and the Whole Genome Sequencing test. 

The difference? As the name of the test indicates, the Whole Genome Sequencing test gives you access to your cat’s complete genetic information – according to Basepaws – up to 10,000 times more data than other DNA tests.

In addition, the Whole Genome Sequencing test also includes unlimited updates as Basepaws adds new health and trait markers to their report, something that is not offered with the Breed + Health test.

Moreover, although different from traditional cat DNA tests, Basepaws recently released a third product, their Cat Dental Health test. This test looks at the oral microbiome profile of your cat’s mouth to screen for major dental conditions.

Overall, the Basepaws cat DNA test is the most popular option on the market. The Whole Genome Sequencing test, however, is expensive – so if you’re not ready to spend that much, you might want to opt for the Breed + Health test.

#2 Ranked: Orivet

Unlike the Basepaws cat DNA test, the Orivet test is completely health-focused. This test will not provide information about your cat’s breed – it’s designed for purebred cats, domestic shorthair cats, or domestic long hair cats.

Instead, the Orivet Cat DNA Health Screen & Life Plan test ($84.45) screens your cat for genetic diseases, as well as physical traits. It will also identify your cat’s blood type. Orviet will provide you with a health risk analysis based on your cat’s genetics, breed, age, weight, gender, and more. You can then use the information provided to develop a wellness plan for your cat.

Orivet is a genetic testing organization that offers a range of genetic services to breeders, veterinarians, and pet owners – with a mission of promoting the health of pets (cats and dogs) with breed-specific care.

As such, in addition to the Cat DNA Health Screen & Life Plan, Orivet offers additional products for cats – these tests, however, are even more specific to individual cat breeds, diseases, or identifying parentage.

Although the Orivet test is less expensive than either of the Basepaws tests, if you’re looking to learn about your cat’s breed history, this won’t be the option for you.

#3 Ranked: Optimal Selection by Wisdom Panel

Similar to the Orivet test, Optimal Selection by Wisdom Panel offers a test that’s largely marketed to breeders. The Optimal Selection Feline cat DNA test ($99.99) can be used for pedigree or mixed-breed cats; it screens for genetic diseases and physical traits, such as coat colors and coat types.

This test also evaluates the genetic diversity for the cat being tested, as well as provides the cat’s blood type. Again, like the Orivet test, the Optimal Selection test does not offer information about a cat’s breed makeup or background.

Optimal Selection is the breeder-specific division of Wisdom Panel, a company that offers different dog DNA tests. Wisdom Panel does not offer these DNA tests for cats, but does provide breeder-focused testing through Optimal Selection.

Ultimately, even though the Optimal Selection Feline test is designed for breeders, it can provide useful health information, as well as interesting data about your cat’s physical traits and blood type. It’s more expensive than the Orivet test, but more affordable than the Breed + Health Basepaws test.

Again, if you’re mostly interested in learning about your cat’s breed makeup, either of the Basepaws tests will be your best option.

Pet Pro Tip: Any responsible pet owner should seriously consider pet insurance. Properly understanding how pet insurance works and what pet insurance covers can help you make an informed decision about your pet’s health needs and plan your finances accordingly!

How do cat DNA tests work?

When it comes down to it, the process of testing your cat’s DNA is the same, no matter which test you choose. First, you can order a test – from Amazon, Chewy, directly from the company, or from another online retailer.

Once your DNA test kit arrives, you’ll use the swab provided to take a sample of your cat’s DNA – swabbing the inside of their cheek for a few seconds. Next, you’ll secure the cheek swab and send the DNA sample back to the company for testing.

With Basepaws, for example, you’ll return the sample to their Los Angeles laboratory, where they’ll extract your cat’s DNA. After sequencing the DNA, they’ll work on compiling a report to send to you with information about your cat’s genetic profile.

Basepaws test results are usually available within four to six weeks after your cat’s DNA sample arrives at the laboratory. 

With Basepaws, Orivet, and Optimal Selection, you’ll be able to create and log in to your account and view your results online. Each company also provides updates as they receive new information or research.

Cat DNA tests and your cat’s breed

Unlike dog DNA tests, most of the cat DNA tests on the market do not provide information about your cat’s breed and ancestry.

As we’ve discussed, Basepaws is perhaps one of the only established companies that offers this capability. In addition to receiving information about your cat’s genetic health markers, your Basepaws results will contain:

  • Breed analysis: Shows your cat’s chromosome pairs with regions of genomic similarity to different breed groups
  • Wild cat index: Shows your cat’s genomic similarity to different wild cats
  • Feline breeds: Gives more information about the different breeds that makeup your cat’s heritage and their personalities

So, why is it so difficult to tell if a cat is a Siamese compared to a Burmese or a Bengal?

In short, unlike dogs – who have been bred for specific tasks for thousands of years – cats have a much more muddled ancestry. 

Most cat breeds are less than 100 years old and those that were bred were chosen randomly based on their appearance. Therefore, it’s difficult to pull breed information from a cat’s DNA when there isn’t a clear and established ancestry in cats to begin with. 

All of this isn’t to say that you can’t learn anything from Basepaws or a test that provides breed information – it’s just not a perfect science. 

Cat DNA tests and your cat’s health

As we’ve discussed, it’s much more common to see cat DNA testing that focuses on health – especially for breeders. Again, however, it’s important to understand exactly what these DNA tests can tell you about your cat’s health.

With these DNA tests, the companies are testing for certain health markers associated with feline genetic diseases. These diseases are caused by genetic mutations, and the test will indicate whether your cat has any of these mutations present in their DNA.

Some of the common genetic diseases that these tests look for are polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which is often seen in Persian cats, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is often seen in Ragdolls and Maine Coons. 

These tests do not diagnose your cat with a disease, nor does it prove that they will never develop any of the diseases that they’re tested for. 

Just like genetic testing in humans, however, these DNA tests can be used as preventative tools, especially if you’re planning on breeding your cat. They can also be used to help you create a plan for your cat’s health – but you should always consult with your veterinarian about your results.

Should you test your cat’s DNA?

Cat DNA testing is a new science and the technology is constantly evolving. So, if you’re wondering: Is it worth it to test my cat’s DNA? You might turn to the internet for answers.

Although some of these cat DNA tests can be a little pricey, most of the online reviews are very positive. In addition, Basepaws has been featured in a number of publications (Glamour, Wired) with writers sharing their fun experiences with the tests.

Ultimately, even if you won’t be able to find out with 100% certainty the different breeds that make up your cat’s ancestry, you’ll learn a little bit more about how feline DNA works and gain some new and interesting information about your favorite furry companion. And isn’t that what being a cat owner is all about?

Randa Kriss

Randa Kriss

Writer, Proud Dog & Cat Mom
Randa is a writer & former assoc. digital content editor at the American Kennel Club. She's also mom to 1 Corgi & 2 orange cats.
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