Using Advanced Technologies: Within a Breeding Program
Cat Talk|February 2021
Most dedicated animal breeders have more than a passing knowledge of basic genetics and will carefully screen their breeding stock for genetic defects and phenotypic traits.
Lucy Drury
For approximately $100, give or take a few dollars, your new prospective king or queen can now be screened for over 40 inherited defects (most somewhat breed specific), blood type and a host of phenotypic (observable) traits. Every year additional genetic markers are discovered and added to screening panels offered by university and commercial laboratories. Projects such as the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Initiative, which reads the entire DNA sequence of a cat’s 38 chromosomes, and then correlates the data in new and interesting ways, gives us even more insights into disease-causing mutations and phenotypic traits of interest to breeders.1

While there are a wealth of scholarly studies regarding what DNA sequences line up with what disease mutations or the complexities of phenotypic traits such as tabby (agouti) patterns, there is little information or advice on what to do with this information once a breeder acquires it. You might say, “What do you mean, do with it? If your cat screens positive for a defect, that cat should not be used in a breeding program. If you don’t want any color point kittens popping out of two tabby parents, make sure you don’t put two color point carriers together. Why would there need to be a study? Isn’t that obvious?”

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