Every item on this page was chosen by a Woman's Day editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
With DNA tests for humans such a hot trend — an estimated 26+ million people have done one like Ancestry or 23 and Me — it's about time our pets got in on the action, too. You may have seen ads on social media of influencers revealing they discovered their adopted cats' true breeds. Exciting! Some of the best cat DNA tests are able to tell you where your kitty belongs in the big, mysterious world of the feline family tree that you've seen at the vet. He's a Maine Coon and you didn't even know it, you say? Some of these cat DNA tests can also detect potential health issues and challenges, as a cat's breed not only influences their personality and physical traits, but hereditary genetic health conditions as well.
If you're curious about what makes your cat unique, you can try an at-home cat DNA test. Like at-home dog DNA tests, these work by first collecting a sample of your feline's DNA. A lab then interprets the results based on the company's data, and you'll receive a full report with the findings.
Ahead, we break down the differences between four of the top cat DNA kits on the market, as well as what you should consider before choosing which cat DNA test to buy. (These also make great gifts for cat parents, by the way!) Plus, we tested the popular Basepaws Breed + Health Cat DNA Test — keep reading for a detailed review and everything we learned.
What to look for in a cat DNA test
According to Annette Louviere, veterinary expert at Wisdom Panel, these are the main factors to consider when shopping for a cat DNA testing product:
- The size of the company's breed reference database
- The number of genetic markers the test can detect
- The type of information reported after the test (examples include: health related to ancestry, traits related to ancestry, genetic diversity measurement)
Rowyn Rose, science communications specialist at Basepaws, also points out the importance of ease and convenience for you and your pet. "Oral swab tests, such as the Basepaws Breed + Health Cat DNA Test, allow for DNA to be collected in a matter of seconds with a quick and painless swab of a cat’s mouth," she explains.
Like Louviere, Rose also adds that you should factor in what information gets unlocked, which can include health insights about an individual pet’s genetic risk for disease. "DNA tests can also provide oral health assessments...and let pet parents know if their cat has a currently active dental disease (which can in turn affect their cat’s overall health)."
George Sofronidis, co-founder of Orivet Genetic Pet Care, points out that "pet owners should look for testing that is reliable and offers great customer service to help them understand the results, as well as easy access to those results (such as on a mobile phone)."
Similarly, Rose adds that the quality of supportive services, such as access to a genetic advisor to discuss your pet’s results, ease of sharing report results with your veterinarian, educational events and resources, and avenues for engaging with other pet parents who have used (or are interested in using) the DNA service or product can also be an important factor to consider.
- What does a cat DNA test tell you? Depending on the specific cat DNA test you're using, cat DNA tests on the market today can tell you about your cat breed, health markers based on ancestry, and even active dental disease. It's important to note that while you will get a plethora of information after you get your cat DNA results, you should still seek help from a veterinarian if you have health concerns or to assess your findings.
- How much does it cost to test your cat's DNA? Cat DNA tests vary in price, but for the most part, the most well-known brands offer them for a range between $100 and $200.
- Can you test for a cat's breed? There are cat DNA tests that test for a cat's breed. Basepaws and Wisdom Panel, for example, both do just that, in addition to providing results for other factors.
- What are the benefits of using a cat DNA test? Cat DNA tests "can support early detection before a disease becomes advanced," Rose says.
According to Louviere, "Wisdom Panel's Complete for Cats can provide pet parents with information regarding over 45 genetic health risks, determine genetic blood type, identify various traits the cat may be carrying, measure how genetically diverse the DNA is, as well as provide a glimpse into the cat’s ancestry by comparing their unique DNA against the world’s largest breed database."
And as Sofronidis explains, "for breeders, the tests can help determine if the cat will have certain traits like fur color and hair length, which is important to maintaining breed standards. For pet owners, a breed DNA test can give insight into potential behaviors based on the percentage of the specific breed."
Why Trust Us
For this roundup, Woman's Day contributor and cat owner Ysolt Usigan spoke to a veterinary expert at Wisdom Panel, science communications specialist at Basepaws, and co-founder of Orivet Genetic Pet Care.
She also put Basepaws to the test in an effort to uncover valuable information about her cat, Benjamin, recently adopted from a local cat rescue. Benjamin is mostly white with orange spots and short hair, so she assumed he's a standard domestic short hair cat. He's healthy according to his first annual vet checkup, but he's also a young cat. So, she tried Basepaws to see what she could find out about Benjamin's breed and health.
Basepaws Cat DNA Test: Breed and Health Results
Upon receiving Benjamin's Basepaws results, which took about 5 weeks from when she first swabbed his mouth and sent in the sample, she was delighted to see 65 pages of information in a PDF format emailed to her — 35 pages of which were specific to Benjamin and included (but were not limited to):
- His complete breed analysis (a combination of mostly broadly Western and Maine Coon, plus a hint of American and British short hair, plus some Persian, which was news to her!)
- Disorders for metabolic, blood, musculoskeletal and connective tissue, cardiovascular, renal, eye, skin, autoimmune, and endocrine (which were all clear, thankfully)
- His blood type and transfusion risk (blood type A with a medium risk)
- His coat texture, color, pattern, and length
- His oral health report (which revealed Benjamin does not currently suffer from a periodontal disease, but does have an issue with bad breath!)
Basepaws Cat DNA Test: Oral Health Summary
In addition to Benjamin's Oral Health Summary that showed he has a high risk of halitosis, the other 30 pages were general insights on:
- History of cat domestication
- Each type of cat breed, with breed history, genetic predisposition and health, personality, average weight, and origin
- Several pages on methodology
- Content on how to better take care of Benjamin's health!
Final Verdict: All in all, our writer loved Basepaws for the thorough information, and the action items she learned in order to keep her pet in tip-top health. She can't wait to run the test again at some point to see if she can curb Benjamin's halitosis, as well as test her other cats to learn more about their DNA and health.
Ysolt Usigan is a lifestyle writer and editor with 15+ years of experience working in digital media. She has created share-worthy content for publishers Shape, What To Expect, Cafe Mom, TODAY, CBS News, HuffPo, The Bump, Health, Ask Men, and Best Gifts. A working mom of two, her editorial expertise in parenting, shopping, and home are rooted in her everyday life.
45 Best Dog Halloween Costume Ideas of 2023
10 Best Outdoor Cat Houses for Adventurous Kitties
The Best Country Dog Name Ideas
All the Food Network Stars and Their Beloved Pets