DNA mutations of the cat: the good, the bad and the ugly

J Feline Med Surg. 2015 Mar;17(3):203-19. doi: 10.1177/1098612X15571878. Epub 2015 Feb 20.


Practical relevance: The health of the cat is a complex interaction between its environment (nurture) and its genetics (nature). Over 70 genetic mutations (variants) have been defined in the cat, many involving diseases, structural abnormalities and clinically relevant health concerns. As more of the cat's genome is deciphered, less commonly will the term 'idiopathic' be used regarding the diagnosis of diseases and unique health conditions. State-of-the-art health care will include DNA profiling of the individual cat, and perhaps its tumor, to establish the best treatment approaches. Genetic testing and eventually whole genome sequencing should become routine diagnostics for feline health care.

Global importance: Cat breeds have disseminated around the world. Thus, practitioners should be aware of the breeds common to their region and the mutations found in those regional populations. Specific random-bred populations can also have defined genetic characteristics and mutations.

Audience: This review of 'the good, the bad and the ugly' DNA variants provides the current state of knowledge for genetic testing and genetic health management for cats. It is aimed at feline and general practitioners wanting to update and review the basics of genetics, what tests are available for cats and sources for genetic testing. The tables are intended to be used as references in the clinic. Practitioners with a high proportion of cat breeder clientele will especially benefit from the review.

Evidence base: The data presented is extracted from peer-reviewed publications pertaining to mutation identification, and relevant articles concerning the heritable trait and/or disease. The author also draws upon personal experience and expertise in feline genetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding / methods
  • Cat Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cat Diseases / genetics*
  • Cat Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cats / genetics*
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA Mutational Analysis / veterinary*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / prevention & control
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / veterinary*
  • Genetic Testing / veterinary
  • Genetic Therapy / veterinary
  • Mutation*


  • DNA