, 2022-06-23 10:20:06,
Cats do not have perfect genes—our furry feline pals can inherit devastating genetic diseases. Key disease-causing versions of genes have been discovered with the rise of cat genome sequencing. And pedigree breeding can exacerbate the genetic troubles cat breeds face. Now the largest ever genetic study of domestic cats reveals the frequency with which the known disease-causing versions of genes, or gene variants, pop up in pedigreed cat breeds and their nonpedigreed cousins.
More than 11,000 cats were screened for well-established disease-causing gene variants, says lead study author Heidi Anderson, a senior scientist at Kinship, a company specializing in pet genetic testing kits. “If you more comprehensively screen the cat, you’ll kind of find out everything” and minimize cherry-picking for expected diseases, she says. This approach led the team to identify 13 disease-associated gene variants in 47 breeds in which they had not previously been found and three variants that were unique to nonpedigreed cats. The researchers published their findings in PLOS Genetics.
The commercial test they used for sampling the cats is similar to tests available for humans, Anderson says. Owners swabbed their pets’ mouth to collect a DNA sample and then sent it in to be analyzed. Anderson and her team screened 10,419 pedigreed cats and 617 nonpedigreed ones for 87 different gene variants. Not all of the variants were associated with disease; some affected appearance or blood type.
Identifying blood type is important for cats that need to have surgery and may need a blood transfusion, Anderson says. It is also helpful for breeders who want to prevent neonatal isoerythrolysis, a condition seen mostly in domestic cats and horses that occurs when a mother has a different blood type…
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