Mars Veterinary, pioneers in canine genetic testing, have launched a new test for feline breeders, under the Optimal Selection™ brand Powered by Genoscoper®. Developed in partnership with Genoscoper Laboratories of Finland—a company specializing in highly-developed DNA testing for companion animals—it is the most comprehensive test of its kind, on the market. Together, Genoscoper and Mars Veterinary are hoping to enable proactive and sustainable breeding programs by providing breeders with a more comprehensive view of each cat’s unique genetic health and well-being.
The new Optimal Selection test is a simple swab-at-home kit that includes screening for more than 25 genetic mutations causing inherited feline diseases and testing for traits such as coat color and length and morphology. The results reporting system allows breeders to review the cat’s extensive health analysis all on one easy-to-use online portal. This same reporting system features the Breeder Tool that enables the identification of potential mates based on a health results score for compatibility.
“We are excited to be working with our partners at Genoscoper to bring this first-of-its-kind disease testing panel to cat breeders,” says Dr. Cindy Cole, General Manager of Mars Veterinary. Many inherited diseases may not become apparent until a cat is older and may have already had litters. For this reason, inherited diseases can persist in the feline population and even increase within a breed if a popular tom happens to be affected with a late onset genetic disease and the mutation is being repeatedly passed down. “This kind of tool enables breeders to work proactively to identify diseases in their litters. Ultimately it can help them to make informed choices and may reduce the likelihood of producing kittens with preventable genetic diseases.”
Some cat breeds carry severe inherited conditions. Thanks to significant advances in the field of feline genetics during the last few years, DNA testing now offers important tools for breeders to maximize the health and longevity of their programs. The new Optimal Selection test provides breeders with a tool that bundles together the findings of various university research groups into a collection of over 25 mutation screens for each cat. Just as in humans, comprehensive DNA testing is an important part of the trend toward predictive, preventive, and personalized healthcare for cats.
Health testing in cats used to mean testing breeding stock for single mutations of interest in the breed. Fast-forward to 2017 and the new tools available to screen cats for inherited diseases and phenotypic traits have improved dramatically, providing a broader evaluation of a cat’s genetic health status.
“While the use of genetic testing is not new to the world of feline breeding, the breadth of its application is so much wider now,” says Jamie Christian, internationally respected cat show judge. “Genetics can provide breeders with the tools to enable smarter and more sustainable breeding decisions. Our hope in the cat breeding community is that through this kind of advanced testing, they will be able to increase their breed’s genetic diversity. Breeders will be able to keep unwanted diseases out of the future generations, while maintaining the valuable traits associated with the individual breeds.”